The missional purpose for the NewStart strategy launched in 1994 was clear: starting strong, new churches the right way. Now the evidence shows the intentional shift in start up tactics is really working. Twelve years of evaluations has confirmed a remarkable turnaround in new church evangelism: this past decade has produced more and stronger churches than in any of the previous four decades.
In this past statistical year, over 140 new Nazarene churches were started in the USA and Canada – and nearly half were multicultural. This growing number of new churches signals an increasing competence and confidence in the local churches sponsoring more and stronger new Nazarene congregations.
The key components in these NewStart strategies are outlined in the following description. A more detailed explanation is available free from NewStart in the Bill Sullivan’s book, Starting Strong New Churches.
1. THE RIGHT LEADER – New church leaders agree the difference in these new churches has to do with the NewStart Assessments and training opportunities for new church pastors. Rather than only accepting volunteers to plant new churches as in the past, the NewStart strategy assesses potential leaders for their entrepreneurial gifts and graces needed to launch a new ministry. The difference has been a careful screening for capable leaders for the significant challenges of starting strong new churches the right way.
2. THE RIGHT REASON – While many good reasons exist for starting a new church, only one primary motivation keeps a new church on course: new churches start to reach new people with the Good News of the gospel. Other secondary motivations eventually lead to distraction and disappointment.
3. THE RIGHT SPONSOR – For decades, only districts started new churches in the USA and Canada. NewStart has empowered and encouraged local churches to sponsor new churches. The records show local congregations are sponsoring more and stronger new churches - over 1,200 since 1994!
4. THE RIGHT CORE GROUP – No pastor, however gifted, is able to start a strong new church alone. The strongest new works have a team of mature believers to join in the effort. Usually, these lay leaders assist in the various ministries as they are gifted and able. The strongest new churches have at least 40 on their team before they launch. Usually the stronger the launch team and leader, the stronger the new church.
5. THE RIGHT TARGET GROUP – Each strong new church has a clear target group in mind when they launch. They ask, “Are there significant numbers of unchurched in this target group our new church can reach?” Then they connect with that target audience, win them to faith in Christ and enfold them into the church.
6. THE RIGHT MINISTRY ACTION PLAN – The biggest mistake new churches tend to make is they start too soon. Premature births can cause baby churches to go on life support for too long after they launch. The right ministry action plan will develop the various life support systems before the new church’s launch.
7. THE RIGHT INVITATION – Growing churches, new and older, have learned how to invite new people to worship with them the first time. Unless a church has new visitors, it does not grow. Intentional steps are taken for inviting new people to come back the second time and third time, and eventually become a part of the fellowship. Effective congregations find what works best for them – and then they work at it.
8. THE RIGHT LOCATION – New churches that make a difference do their homework on where to launch. They use the latest demographic information and research community needs for their approaches to ministry. They focus limited funds, the best volunteers and early efforts in the right place to start.
9. THE RIGHT FINANCIAL PLAN – The strongest new churches have developed a workable financial plan for the first two to three years. These leaders understand that multiple revenue streams must be created for a new church to survive the first two to three years of financial drought when they are getting started.
10. THE RIGHT PRAYER PLAN SUPPORT – The spiritual challenges in starting a new church are incredible. The only way to overcome all the obstacles is to import the needed prayer support. Every NewStart needs a minimum of 100 prayer partners outside that new church interceding for the ministry. No human strategy is sufficient. Without God’s help, new churches face impossible odds. But with God, all things are possible.
by Jim Dorsey