Mad Skillz: How to plant a church in a new(ish) community
Andrew Millsom is a college buddy of mine planting a new church with my old church in Townsville, Willows Presbyterian. His church is called Northside Presbyterian and it is a new church in a new suburb in Townsville, North Queensland. One of Australia’s fastest growing cities. Townsville is an amazing place full of amazing gospel opportunities. This new church is in Townsville’s Northern Beaches area, so if you live nearby, and you’re looking for a family friendly church. Check. it. out. They also have great coffee (supplied by me – you too can buy coffee for your home, business, or church).
These are some of Andrew’s thoughts almost nine months in (though the plant is the product of years of preparation from the Willows perspective, and it launched in January, Andrew moved to Townsville towards the end of last year).
I’m not your hairy-chested, Mark Driscoll type church planter, but still I think I’ve learned some things. Here’s a sample.
1. A hand-picked core group is great.
If you come to Northside you’ll see something that looks a lot like normal church. But it’s what you won’t see that matters – you won’t see people sniping at each other, fighting, forming cliques, or complaining about stuff that isn’t being done their way. And you won’t realise that almost everyone there is in a small group and desires to serve in some way. All this makes the day-to-day work of church planting a lot easier. And Northside is like this because the core group was hand picked.
2. Just because you plant a church doesn’t mean new people will come.
This might sound obvious but sometimes we’re tempted to think this way. Sure the church is good, sure it doesn’t have some of the ‘baggage’ of an established church, sure it really is a church worth coming to. But if people don’t know you’re there, they can’t come. You need to put effort into getting your name out there.
3. The basics remain the basics.
The important things stay the same whether you’re in an established church or a church plant – teaching the Bible, welcoming newcomers, looking after the people who’re already there. If anything, without some of the distractions of a larger church, church planting means you focus on these things even more.
4. Being a part of a team is really helpful.
Church planters are generally one-man-bands. And like any pastor of a small church you need others to encourage and challenge you. I’ve been blessed to be part of a great team at our mother church, Willows, but I also try to catch up with one of the other pastors in the area (the Baptist guy) on a regular basis.
5. A community presence is gold.
We meet in a community hall in a state school. We did a working bee there last Saturday. Gold! You can’t buy that sort of goodwill for
the church or for Jesus Christ for that matter. People in our community no longer automatically have a positive view of Christians; we have to earn that. And church
planting (generally) provides more opportunities for doing that.
6. Best book I’ve read on church planting
Church Planting Is for Wimps by Mike McKinley. It’s just really down to earth… and short!