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Launch: Starting a New Church from Scratch

3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  197 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
Starting a church from scratch? Start here! This is no typical church planting or church growth book. The authors, both pastors at The Journey Church of the City in Manhattan, offer specific strategies for beginning a church from scratch, based on their own experiences in launching a church with no members, no money and no staff and watched membership skyrocket to more tha ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published January 11th 2007 by Regal (first published December 20th 2006)
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Sep 13, 2016 Bruno rated it liked it
God this, god that. Can't expect to read a book on building church without reading God 10 times on each page. Definitely got some insight on pastor strategy on mass manipulation, but less bad than I thought - turns out to be a book on leadership and on creating small business from scratch.
Aaron Carpenter
Jan 15, 2016 Aaron Carpenter rated it really liked it
Recommended to Aaron by: Scott Slayton
Better than I expected. Searcy books are chock-full of best practice advice and dubious Bible exegesis, and this one is no different. As a church planter, however, I found this book to offer timely wisdom and directly applicable actions steps. At times it feels too programmatic, as if it weren't contextually conditioned, but Searcy anticipated most of my objections and answered most of my questions - even ones I hadn't thought to ask. I don't like the proof-texting, and I'm always cautious of an ...more
Dec 18, 2010 Jeff rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011-book-list
Some insights:

The three deadly sins of church planting:

1. Lack of calling.
2. Lack of strategy.
3. Lack of funds.

God's dream for your church is bigger than your dream for your church.

The question you must wrestle to the ground is, "Will I allow my fear to bind me to mediocrity?"

The only way to live in this adventure -- with all its danger and unpredictability -- is an ongoing, intimate relationship with God. The control we so desperately crave is an illusion. Far better to give it up in exch
Feb 10, 2012 Steven rated it really liked it
I've read many, many reviews of this book. Most of the criticisms are from people who want less practical steps and more theology and philosophy behind the church's ecclesiology and such.

Here's the deal from my perspective. Searcy starts out at the beginning of this book, and every book, by saying "here are the nuts and bolts" and "if you want the theology behind this, there are plenty of other books written".

So if you're looking for something other than practical tips that he's used effectivel
Mar 16, 2012 John rated it really liked it
very helpful book for those who are looking to plant or 'revamping' a church. searcy and thomas provide basic nuts and bolts about planting a new church. they also walk you thru each process of what needs to happen and what things to avoid. i thought they provided a well balanced approach of trusting in the LORD 100% and giving 100% of our efforts.

on the other hand, i must admit, had i read this few years earlier, right out of bible college/seminary, i wouldn't have appreciated it. after few ye
Kelley Taylor
Aug 18, 2015 Kelley Taylor rated it really liked it
We are in the middle of launching a second campus. Much of this material applies to us even though it's not a "church from scratch." I appreciate the humor and practicality of the content. I found myself highlighting, taking notes in the margin, and laughing through every chapter. THANK YOU for sharing your experience. I foresee this will be a book I quote and refer back to many times over the coming months and years.
Daniel Alvers
Jul 27, 2011 Daniel Alvers rated it did not like it
I liked this book ok. It was not as bad as I thought it was going to be. They had a lot of great advice but it’s a very pragmatic book. I think finding practicality in leadership of a church plant is important, but I think it's more important to have a robust view of God. I think it also important to have a good grip on the gospel and what it means to be called a church. The implications of that were not discussed. They also did not talk about what it means to have a theologically integrated ecc ...more
Shawn Brace
Nov 01, 2015 Shawn Brace rated it it was amazing
Despite some of its consumer-driven perspectives on church planting, this was a very informative and practical book that clearly articulated a roadmap to church planting. I definitely highly recommend it.
Feb 05, 2014 A.J. rated it really liked it
Good book. Don't think he tries to be a cover-all here, just gives some great things to think about when you are launching a church plant.
Ian Stamps
Mar 05, 2015 Ian Stamps rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Super practical

This book is written to be a handbook and manual on planting a new church. It delivers completely. Easy to read and gives a solid roadmap to follow.
Nov 25, 2014 Stephanie rated it really liked it
Great book on the practical way to get a church launched. Very helpful and insightful.
Jan 14, 2014 Tyson rated it liked it
Love the fact that my 13 year old daughter researched this book on amazon and gave it to me as a Christmas gift. While not earth shattering or overly innovative this book has some good information.
Apr 29, 2009 Jerry rated it it was ok
Shelves: church-planting
Pretty bad, though helpful at a few points. Why does anyone in the Rick Warrenosphere assume that if you do things right, your church will necessarily grow? This book is largely a set of "launch" techniques that are not without some practical merit, but it simply leaves untouched any of the difficulties church planters in the NT actually face--doctrinal integrity, preaching, troublesome people, and the like.
Nov 29, 2009 Kevin rated it liked it
This book is mostly practical advice from one church planter's experience. While there is quite a bit of helpful ideas laid out, it almost feels like the authors are just talking about how they're experts is the church planting world since they led a successful plant.

I'm glad I read it, though, and it's worth reading of you're considering a church plant. Make sure that you don't read only this book, though.
Larry Williams
Dec 21, 2012 Larry Williams rated it really liked it
Purely systematic and organizational way to look at church planting. Great for systems. Weak on other issues like theology and pastoral care. Pretty sure the authors were not focused on this point which I believe this is why the systematic approach to the book was so good. Looking for systems buy this book. Looking for pastoral care or praise and worship look other places.
Jun 20, 2009 Cass rated it it was ok
This book is funny and irreverent. It is easy to read, very accessible to any reader. The reason I didn't really like it is simply because this isn't exactly the kind of church we are hoping to plant. Their method has surely worked for them in their environment and at that particular moment in time, so I suppose it is worth reading, simply for ideas.
Juan Flores Zuñiga
Nelson Searcy and Kerrick Thomas are the real thing. God guided them to develop a planting model that is fresh, revelant and biblical. If you are being call by God to plant this is a must read. They write out of experience, what they learned when doing it. They are not theorist, but incredible honest and faithful practitioners
Jeremy Copeland
Sep 10, 2008 Jeremy Copeland rated it liked it
It's a good book, I read it really quickly. He doesn't really say anything new, but he gives you a very simple straight-forward look at what it takes to launch a new church. It's well worth the read, especially for those just beginning to think about church planting.
Oct 01, 2011 Lee rated it really liked it
The best book on the fundamentals and core spiritual decisions of church planting that I have ever read. Highly recommended for anyone thinking about starting a church or if you've just started a church.
Jun 19, 2012 Tom rated it really liked it
We're launching a new satellite venue and this book has been an essential guide to thinking through that. We haven't launched yet, but this book is helping us prepare for a successful launch.
George Hunger
Jan 07, 2013 George Hunger rated it liked it
A great practical book on church planting strategies. This book looks at every facet of church planting and gives practical ideas. A must read for every church planter.
Jun 20, 2008 Jimmy added it
The best thing I can say about this book is that I wish I'd had it to read before I planted Rocky River Community Church eight years ago. Don't plant - LAUNCH!
Nov 06, 2013 Brian rated it it was amazing
Excellent advice on planting a church big. This may not be for everyone, but for more introverted pastors and for outside-in planters, this is an absolute.
Elder Robert
Nov 25, 2013 Elder Robert rated it it was amazing
One of the most helpful resources I read during the planning and research phase of planting Word Center Interdenominational Fellowship Church...
Heather Hampton
Apr 19, 2010 Heather Hampton rated it really liked it
Great for anyone who wants to start a church! This book gives a lot of tips and suggestions on how to do things in a variety of situations.
Joe Cox
Oct 11, 2012 Joe Cox rated it really liked it

Great book to read that can help you count the cost before you mention the idea of launching a church.
Trevor Dailey
Sep 01, 2015 Trevor Dailey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book full of insights for planting and or replanting your church.
Ryan Fisher
My favorite church planting book... of course I'm a chump and it's all theory
Randy Jones
Apr 20, 2013 Randy Jones rated it it was amazing
Definitely a good read to get useful insight on church planting.
Shamshadeen Mayers
Jun 14, 2012 Shamshadeen Mayers rated it liked it
Very insightful book on step by step church planting....
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Share This Book

“Keeping a new church outwardly focused from the beginning is much easier than trying to refocus an inwardly concerned church.

In order to plant a successful church, you have to know that you know that you are undeniably called by God.

The call to start a new church plant is not the same as the call to serve in an existing church or work in a ministry-related organization. You may be the greatest preacher this side of Billy Graham but still not be called to start a church.

If you think you may have allowed an improper reason, voice or emotion to lead you to the idea of starting a new church, back away now. Spend some more time with God. You don’t want to move forward on a hunch or because you feel “pretty sure” that you should be planting a church. You have to be completely certain.

“You’re afraid? So what. Everybody’s afraid. Fear is the common ground of humanity. The question you must wrestle to the ground is, ‘Will I allow my fear to bind me to mediocrity?’”

When you think of a people group that you might be called to reach, does your heart break for them? If so, you may want to consider whether God is specifically calling you to reach that group for His kingdom.

Is your calling clear? Has your calling been confirmed by others? Are you humbled by the call? Have you acted on your call?

Do you know for certain that God has called you to start a new church? Nail it down. When exactly were you called? What were the circumstances surrounding your call? How did it match up with the sources of proper calling? Do you recognize the four specific calls in your calling? How? How does your call measure up to biblical characteristics? What is the emerging vision that God is giving you with this call?

As your dependence on God grows, so will your church.

One of the most common mistakes that enthusiastic and well-meaning church starters make is to move to a new location and start trying to reach people without thinking through even a short-term strategy.

Don’t begin until you count the cost.

why would you even consider starting a church (the only institution Jesus left behind and the only one that will last forever) without first developing a God-infused, specific, winning strategy?

There are two types of pain: the pain of front-end discipline and the pain of back-end regret. With the question of strategy development, you get to choose which pain you’d rather live with.

Basically, a purpose, mission and vision statement provides guiding principles that describe what God has called you to do (mission), how you will do it (purpose) and what it will look like when you get it done (vision). Keep your statement simple. Be as precise as possible. Core values are the filter through which you fulfill your strategy. These are important, because your entire strategy will be created and implemented in such a way as to bring your core values to life.

Your strategic aim will serve as the beacon that guides the rest of your strategy. It is the initial purpose for which you are writing your strategy.

He will not send more people to you than you are ready to receive. So what can you do? The same thing Dr. Graham does. Prepare in a way that enables God to open the floodgates into your church. If you are truly ready, He will send people your way. If you do the work we’ve described in this chapter, you’ll be able to build your new church on a strong base of God-breathed preparation. You’ll know where you are, where you’re going and how you are going to get there. You’ll be standing in the rain with a huge bucket, ready to take in the deluge. However, if you don’t think through your strategy, write it down and then implement it, you’ll be like the man who stands in the rainstorm with a Dixie cup. You’ll be completely unprepared to capture what God is pouring out. The choice is yours!”
“Never treat your launch team like a core group. It’s not. Your launch team is a time-limited, purpose-driven team. It ends with the debriefing session following your launch. At that meeting, release the launch team members to join a ministry team of their choice. Your launch team will not stay with you over the long haul. Many church planters make the mistake of thinking that the people from their launch team (whom they have grown to love) will be the same people who will grow the church with them in the long term. That is seldom, if ever, the case.

While it’s sad to see people go, it’s part of God’s process in growing your church. So, expect it, be prepared for it, and be thankful that you have the opportunity to serve with so many different people at different points along the journey.

Preparing a launch team to maximize your first service is first and foremost a spiritual enterprise. Pray and fast—a lot.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that being a solid leader undermines the spirit of teamwork. You can lead a team, hold people accountable and ensure that things get done in a way that fosters teamwork and gives glory to God. So get ready.

show people your heart before you ask for their hand. People want to know that you care, and they want to be part of something bigger than themselves. If you can articulate your vision in a way that excites people, they’ll want to be on your team.

The launch team is not a democracy. Don’t vote. You are the leader. Lead.

While it’s true that you want to share the gospel with as many people as possible, you will need to develop a clear picture of the specific demographic your new church is targeting in order to effectively reach the greatest number of people. Diffused light has little impact, but focused light has the ability to cut through steel. Take time to focus so that you are able to reach the specific people God has called you to.

1. Who Are the Key Population Groups Living in My Area?
2. What Population Group Is Not Being Reached Effectively?
3. What Population Group Do I Best Relate To?

Healthy organisms grow, and that includes your church. If you feel stagnation setting in, your job is not to push growth any way you can but to identify the barriers that are hindering you and remove them.

The only people who like full rooms are preachers and worship leaders. If you ignore this barrier, your church will stop growing.

Early on, it’s best to remain flexible. The last thing you want to do is get in a position in which God can’t grow you because you aren’t logistically prepared. What if twice as many people showed up this Sunday? Would you be ready?

When a lead pastor isn’t growing: The church stops growing, the sermons are stale, The staff and volunteers stop growing, The passion for ministry wanes.

Keeping your church outwardly focused is just as important now as it was during your prelaunch stage. Make sure that you are continually working to expand God’s kingdom, not building your own.

A healthy launch is the single greatest indicator of future church health.”
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