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How to Grow a Launch Team

By Nathan Camp

*This blog is brought to you by StartCHURCH’s latest video course, Launch to Lead.

John Maxwell says that a leader who has no one following him is just a guy taking a walk. In other words, it’s only when you have people following you that makes you a real leader.

The truth is, in the process of going from a church dreamer to a church planter, the first critical move forward starts with adding people along in the journey of your church. This starts with building a launch team.

What is a launch team?

A launch team is the initial group of people that gather together to see a church reach its launch.

Let me be really clear.

This isn’t staff.

These are not employees.

These might not even be your highest level leaders.

This is a group of people who gather together for the purpose of taking the idea of your church plant and getting it to the launch service.

This is a group that plays a unique role in the life of a church plant in that it is focused on the pre-launch phase of your ministry. Often, this group is a temporary part of the church plant story.

The primary functions of the launch team

1. They are carriers of the DNA

When I talk about the DNA of a church plant, I am talking about the vision, culture, and essence of what the church is from the inside out. As the church planter, pastor, and leader, you establish the very DNA of the church within the church from the first days.

However, you cannot be the ONLY person who is carrying the DNA of the church plant. A critical part of that vision becoming a reality is that the DNA is carried by your launch team.

2. They become your initial volunteers

Sometimes, church planters underestimate the sheer workload required to plant a church. Just a service alone, which often times is portable in the early days, can require tons of man-power!

3. They become your initial visionaries

They are more than just volunteers: they are often those who help flesh out the vision in your heart.

Do you have a vision in your heart of what the church could be and should be? What does that vision look like actually lived out? We need a launch team to help us actually devise a plan on how to live out the vision in our hearts.

What makes a great launch team member?

Many a church planter has asked, “Where do I find this launch team?” and “How will I know I have the right ones?”

Here’s the answer:

You will have to go find them!

It falls upon you as the planter to go out and find the people that will make up your launch team.

Often, when you are in the process of building a launch team, you find yourself asking anybody and everybody you know to consider joining the team.

If there’s anything that the Bible teaches, it’s that God can use anyone for His glory, and that is true for your church plant as well! Never underestimate who God can use to help get your church off the ground.

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How great church planters recruit great launch teams

1. Look everywhere and consider everyone

A consistent theme throughout the Bible is that God uses unlikely people to do great things. The story of your church plant will be the same. God will add people to your team that will surprise you. Keep your eyes open.

2. Cast a clear and compelling vision

People who will join your launch team need a clear vision of the WHY and the WHAT of your church plant.  I can’t stress this enough: spend the time on the front end, before you meet with anyone, honing your ability to cast such a vision.

3. Never make promises

Don’t promise people a title, a role, or a job.

4. Anticipate pushback

Look at your presentation with an objective eye, and ask these two questions:

  • What are the questions people might have at the end of it?
  • What are the reasons someone might say no?

Anticipate and weave those answers back into the presentation.

5. Make the hearer the hero

Don’t just talk about how great your church is going to be or how good of a preacher you are. Instead, speak to the value they bring. Speak to their skill set and what you think makes their place on the team so significant.

6. Make the launch team time-bound

No one wants to join a team indefinitely, especially not the kind of people that join launch teams. Set a finite commitment.

Again, 90% of your launch team will not be a part of your church within 6 months of launch, so make the expectation clear that that is ok and expected.

7. Tell the truth

Church planting is hard!

It is going to requires a lot of time and energy. You do no one a favor by getting them on the launch team with the expectation that it is going to be easy.

8. Clarify this is the launch team, not the lead team

Some people think that if they join the launch team, they are going to be automatic leaders in the church. This is not the case. The lead team is the long term leadership team of the church that may or may not consist of people on the launch team.

9. Clarify expectations

It’s unkind, and actually downright cruel, to let someone make decisions about joining the launch team under faulty premises. A church planter must get good at clearing away the cobwebs and giving crystal clarity.

The 3 areas most church planters have tension with their launch teams are:

  1. Giving of finances
  2. Inviting people
  3. Working hard

10. Give them passion

Church planter, you have to be able to give your team a passion that will drive them forward.

A mentor of mine used to say, “If the passion on the inside is stronger than the circumstances on the outside, you are destined for greatness!”

You have to give them a vision that is so passionate that when the hard days of church planting arrive, the fire on the inside is stronger than the heaviness on the outside!

How to recruit a launch team member

Once you have met someone that you think posses the qualities you are looking for in a launch team member, book a time to meet with them personally. Let’s go through a high-level overview of your one-on-one recruitment times. You should go through a series of four segments:

  1. Who you are and where you’ve been.
  2. What it is God has called you to do.
  3. How you would like them to consider being part of the church plant.
  4. When you would like to follow up with them. Give them time to pray about the decision, and set a follow-up meeting date before you leave.

Don’t leave this time open-ended. Ask, “Would you take the next week and pray and ask God if He would have you be a part of one of those three levels with your church plant, and then we can meeting again next Saturday?”

Don’t be shy or unclear or unplanned as to what the next steps are.

When to start on your launch team

So, when should you start building your launch team?

As soon as you respond to God’s call on your life, you will want to start forming your launch team. The sooner you get your launch team started, the better!

Once the team is finalized, you will want to be sure they are properly trained. As I mentioned earlier, there is nothing that can steal your enthusiasm more than a lack of clarity.

Plant with confidence today

The first make-or-break moment in the life of any church plant is the ability to recruit, train, and engage a high-capacity launch team.

We hope you see the value of the launch team, have committed to defining who and what you are looking for, and are setting aside time in the coming days to start searching for and recruiting these crucial members of your team.

At StartCHURCH, we love helping churches and ministries protect what God has called them to lead. If you are being called by God to plant a church, I encourage you to check out our Launch to Lead video course. We created this video course just for church planters to help prepare them to lead their church plant with confidence from the start.

If you have any questions about the video course or how StartCHURCH can help you with your church plant, give us a call at 877-494-4655.

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