Launch Team Momentum and DNA

May 28, 2014


In the fifth and final installment of this blog series on building a core launch team, Stadia’s Doug Foltz focuses on building momentum with your launch team and why what you do at launch team gatherings matters more than you think.

I worked with a planter once who had 40 adults on his launch team from day one. Three months later, the number of people on the team had shrunk to 25 adults. What happened?  The team lost momentum.

Let’s start with the assumption that you’ll have at least 50 adults on your launch team.  Most church planters are great at building the team to about 20 people, or the size of a rather large small group. The problem is what’s next? You may still be months away from holding preview services. So how do you build momentum? How do you keep the team growing?

The problem for many lies in the fact that they are trying to build the launch team on their own. The answer lies in turning those 20 adults in church planters. We are a consumer culture. Let’s face it. As pastors, we sometimes feed into this cultural sin.

If you are focused on building the team yourself, you’re really just creating a consumer culture where you’re the product.

At some point, those 20 adults must be commissioned and sent. They must see themselves as church planters and just as you have invested in them, they must in turn invest in those God has given them influence over.

When this happens, growth will naturally occur, so be ready for it. You must have a plan. It’s easy to meet in your living room crowding in 20 adults, but what happens when it becomes 30 adults? Or 50? There isn’t a right or wrong answer here. Some planters take a small group model to the launch team and reproduce groups. Others move into a larger meeting facility as the team grows. Some do a hybrid of both. Some use service in the community to gather the group. Others focus more on marketing and fun events.

My advice is to dream about what God is calling the church to become. How do you envision discipleship and leadership development happening? To build and keep momentum, use this vision as the foundation for what you do with the launch team now.  Remember you’re setting the DNA of the church. Church DNA is a lot like concrete. It might be wet now, but a day is quickly coming when it will dry and to make a change, you’ll have to chip away at it.

Setting DNA at Launch Team Gatherings

How do you begin to set DNA?

I’ve found that launch team meetings are DNA-setting experiences. What you do and communicate at these meetings matter.

These meetings are where the vision and values of the church begin to be lived out. First and foremost, launch team meetings are vision casting experiences. Plan out what will be communicated at new member or 101 level classes. This is your church planter playbook. Communicating the playbook to the launch team is crucial.  Remember that you’re setting the DNA. If no one plays by the playbook, it doesn’t matter what is in it.

Also, remember that what you’re launching is public services. From the beginning, your launch team is the church. So balance business meetings with time together to worship. In fact, launch team meetings may be a terrible thing to call your gatherings.  The word “meetings” communicates business; for many people, “church meeting” communicates pointless and boring.

In his watershed book, The Forgotten Ways, Alan Hirsch identifies three key elements to church: worship, discipleship and mission. Launch team meetings should include aspects of each of these elements. If launch Sunday is the first time your launch team has done these three things together, chances are you’ve missed the chance to ingrain these habits in the church DNA.

A self-described “church planting junkie,” Doug Foltz serves as director of planter care for Stadia as the director of planter care, where he helps church planters clarify and implement their vision. He stands alongside church planters, leveraging his 15-plus years of church planting experience with more than 50 new churches. In 2004, Foltz moved to Charlotte, N.C., to help plant LifePointe Christian Church. Currently, he lives in a rural town in Illinois and speaks nationwide about church planting. 

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