3 Skills that Save Church Planters Time and Energy

church planters

Planting a church requires perseverance, commitment, and passion for reaching people with the Gospel.

It also involves using several skills you may not think of right away such as…

  • Legal paperwork
  • Setting up a church checking account
  • Making your first hire
  • Maintaining records of people you’ve contacted about your new church
  • …and much more

Navigating those waters isn’t easy.  Thankfully, there are lots of resources available to help those who’re just starting out in their church planting journey.

Patrick Bradley provides one of those resources via his website, ChurchPlantingTactics.com.  He’s worked with church planters since 2007 and offers practical tips to help church planters move quickly from theory to execution.  I asked Patrick a few questions about his work with church planters.  Check out our interview:

What are the top administrative / church operations issues that create the greatest headaches for church planters?

While it’s hard to put them all in the same box, generally church planters aren’t bent toward operations at all. The whole ‘field’ of administration can be headache-inducing for them (but it doesn’t have to be). Let me point a couple of specific challenges that tend to rise to the surface:

Legal Paperwork. They don’t teach classes on incorporating, bylaws & 501(c)3 applications at seminary. Since most planters will plant only once or twice in their lifetime, it’s not something they’d benefit from learning.

Systems. Planters are highly relational. They may not immediately see the value in creating various “the way we do things” systems. But when leading in a volunteer organization on a tight budget, you have two resources to get things done: people and systems. Untrained volunteers can function well and get things done if there are good systems in place. But the opposite is too often true in our churches: skilled volunteers get frustrated when systems are haphazard, poor, or mysterious.

Consistency. Church planters are far from being flaky; it’s more like they get bored with maintenance. They dream big dreams and take new ground, but would rather bite down on tin foil than maintain something for years. You can see how that is a setup for the wheels to come off some important things that require ongoing maintenance, like a prayer team newsletter, thank you’s to financial supporters, and social media posts.

Most church planters are probably more gifted in and motivated by preaching, discipleship, and evangelism. For someone who’s starting a church, how would you recommend he/she get help with the administrative tasks (understanding that the budget is probably a bit tight)?

Here’s the best news a church planter will hear all day:

You don’t have to do all the administrative stuff yourself in order to get it done!

For as many gifted pastors and planters out there, there are as many people who are great doers and maintainers.

Some ways you can use them are:

Recruit a Fundraising Team. Early in the process while you are raising support and just getting established in your community, you have friends and family across the country cheering you on. Especially for those not able to contribute financially, inviting them to be part of your fundraising team allows them to help you in very practical ways:

  • Compile the list of all your contacts into a usable spreadsheet or database
  • Stuff letters & address envelopes
  • Compose, edit or proofread your supporters newsletter
  • Mail out thank yous
  • Plan & execute vision dinners or other support-raising events

Recruit an Admin Team. Fast forward to when you’ve started your weekly gatherings – you’re not going to be doing everything yourself on Sundays; you’re going to recruit teams for music, children’s ministry, etc. One of your teams should be an Admin Team. They can help with things like:

  • Posting calendar events to the church website & social media pages
  • Inputting contact information for visitor follow-up
  • Cleaning up data in the church management software

Your website includes great practical, step-by-step tips on handling various church administration tasks. What’s the top resource on your site you’d recommend for aspiring or new church planters?

For aspiring planters, I’d recommend doing lots of missionary homework. Learn everything you can about your community and the people who live there. Fall in love with your community. Check out my post on Free Soft Demographics Reports.

For new planters, you need a budget. Whether you have lots of resources or you’re planting on a shoestring, you need to have some idea of where the money’s coming from (and when) and what your really need to spend it on. Check out my series on Creating a Budget.

What’s your favorite / most rewarding part of working with church planters and why?

Church planters are my heroes. They are thought-leaders, risk-takers, innovators, and they really care about people. Spending time with them and helping them be better at what they do has been incredibly rewarding.

Thank you, Patrick, for sharing your insights!  My key takeaways are that church planters should:

  1. Learn to develop systems and processes
  2. Gain an appreciation for (or at least tolerance of) consistency
  3. Start recruiting administrative help ASAP

Also, these tips are great for anyone in church leadership whether you’re planting a church or leading an existing one.  Systems, consistency, and finding people to handle administrative tasks are necessary for any church.