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Launch: Starting a New Church from Scratch

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  165 ratings  ·  30 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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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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Great book on the practical way to get a church launched. Very helpful and insightful.
Trevor Dailey
Great book full of insights for planting and or replanting your church.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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!
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
One of the most helpful resources I read during the planning and research phase of planting Word Center Interdenominational Fellowship Church...
Heather Hampton
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

Great book to read that can help you count the cost before you mention the idea of launching a church.
Ryan Fisher
My favorite church planting book... of course I'm a chump and it's all theory
Randy Jones
Definitely a good read to get useful insight on church planting.
Shamshadeen Mayers
Very insightful book on step by step church planting....
Daniel McNaughton
An excellent and practical book on church planting.
Church planter "must read".
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“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!”
“An accurate budget must be built on a base of thorough research. You must do research on your community to find out what it will cost to get a church off the ground. You need to solidly answer questions such as:, What will the cost of living in this community be?, What will my salary be? How about salaries for additional staff?, How much will it cost to rent space for the church to meet in?, How much will it cost to operate a business in this city (office rent, phones, computer equipment, copy equipment, and so on)?

Talk with other pastors in the community. Find out what their start-up costs were and what they are currently spending to maintain and operate the church. Other pastors can be a valuable resource for you on many levels.

The worst mistake you can make is to start the budget process by viewing economic realities through a rose-colored lens. If you speculate too much or cut corners in this area, you’ll end up paying dearly down the road. Remember, God never intended for you to go it alone. There are people and resources out there to help you prepare. Ask others for help.

God receives no glory when you are scraping the bottom to do His work. So don’t think too small.

Church planting is an all or nothing venture. You can’t just partially commit. You have to fully commit, and often that means with your wallet.

Don’t underestimate the importance of having a base of prayer partners. You need prayers as desperately as you need money.

You need prayers as desperately as you need money.

An unhealthy launch may occur when a new church begins as the result of a church split, when a planter is disobedient in following God, or when there is a lack of funding or solid strategy.

Finding the right teammates to help you on this journey is serious business. The people you bring on to your staff will either propel you down the road toward fulfilling the vision for your church or serve as speed bumps along the way.

You should never be afraid to ask potential staff members to join you—even if it means a salary cut, a drastic position change or a significant new challenge for them.

When you ask someone to join your staff, you are not asking that person to make a sacrifice. (If you have that mentality, you need to work to change it.) Instead, you are offering that person the opportunity of a lifetime.

There are three things that every new church must have before it can be a real church: (1) a lead pastor, (2) a start date, and (3) a worship leader.

Hire a person at the part-time level before bringing him or her on full time.

When hiring a new staff person, make sure he or she possesses the three C's: Character, Chemistry & Competency

Hiring staff precedes growth, not vice versa.

Hire slow, fire fast.

Never hire staff when you can find a volunteer.

Launch as publicly as possible, with as many people as possible.

There are two things you are looking for in a start date: (1) a date on which you have the potential to reach as many people as possible, and (2) a date that precedes a period of time in which people, in general, are unlikely to be traveling out of town.

You need steppingstones to get you from where you are to your launch date. Monthly services are real services that you begin holding three to six months prior to your launch date. They are the absolute best strategic precursor to your launch. Monthly services give you the invaluable opportunity to test-drive your systems, your staff and, to an extent, even your service style. At the same time, you are doing real ministry with the people in attendance. These services should mirror as closely as possible what your service will look like on the launch date.

Let your target demographic group be the strongest deciding factor in settling on a location: Hotel ballrooms, Movie theaters, Comedy clubs, Public-school auditoriums, Performing-arts theaters, Available church meeting spaces, College auditoriums, Corporate conference space.”
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