In recent years, many church planters have been inspired by the stories of new church plants launching with over 200 people on the first day.
Church planting gurus tout the importance of starting a new faith community with strong momentum, and starting with 200 or more seems to be the gold standard of launch day goals. And so, many new church starters make it their goal to launch with at least 200 people at their grand opening service.
The trouble is, many first time planters have no idea what they need to do to have 200 at their public launch. So they try out ideas, hoping and praying for the best. The things they try ranges from expensive marketing campaigns to passing out water bottles labeled with the church Web site at the county fair to simply hoping that if they say they are going to have 200 at their first service it will happen. Too often they miss their goals by a long shot and end up consoling themselves with pious-sounding platitudes about it not being about the numbers.
Getting off to a strong start doesn’t have to be a guessing game that ends in disappointment. And it is about the numbers, but you need to know the right ones.
Here’s how to use numbers to prepare the new church launch strong.
- Determine the number that will indicate a strong start to the people you are trying to reach. The strong start number varies depending on the size, economic status, ethnicity, and education level of the community you are trying to reach. As a general rule, 200 is a good number in a suburban setting while 50 might be a good number in a small rural community. Typically, churches planted to reach first-generation immigrants can start with a smaller number of initial attendees than churches starting up in a diverse urban community. Do your research to determine your ideal start-up number.
- Multiply your ideal startup number by two. This is the number of people you and your launch team will need to build relationships with before you have your first public launch. A relationship means that you know a person well enough to understand what they care about, what they hope for and what they are afraid of. During the pre-launch phase of the church, you and your launch team will devote the bulk of your church planting efforts to initiating and cultivating these relationships.
- Multiply your relationship number by three. This is the number of connections you need to have in the community before you have your launch service. A connection means that you know their name and you are praying for them. You make connections as you go about your everyday life. When you interact with people, intentionally seek to know their name and begin to pray for them. This is something everyone on your launch team can do.
- Multiply your connections number by 10. This is how many people need to be made aware that the new church is in the process of starting up. Awareness happens when someone in your target community is simply made aware of that a new church coming to town. This can happen through social media, random acts of kindness events, traditional advertising campaigns, etc.
Once you know your awareness number, get to work making people in your community aware that you are there. Some of those will become connections whose names you know and for whom you are praying. Some of those will become friends with whom you can begin to share Christ in word and deed. And some of those will become part of your public launch. Leaders guided by this approach are finding that about twenty percent of your connections number will show up at your first service.
These categories of activity will help you avoid the pre-launch guessing game and help you determine what you and your launch team will do and how you will measure your progress toward a strong launch.