17 Months from Start to Launch: The Story of One Church Plant

We have had an incredible journey these last five years as a new church. God continues to amaze us. I am consistently asked the story of starting Grace Community Church. Specifically other planters want to know what we did prior to launch. I’ve been asked enough that I thought it was worth sharing here.

The vision for Grace was placed on my heart 10 years before this process began, so we either had a head start or we were behind the curve; however you look at it. There were three of us sharing the vision, but the other two moved and I wasn’t in full-time ministry at the time, so the dream basically died…at least to me.

That’s when our timeline began in May of 2004:

May – I had an almost prophetic encounter with another pastor who encouraged me to revive the 10 year dream God had placed on my heart.

May-June: I took about 6 weeks to pray…

July: Approached my co-pastor to see his interest (He wasn’t interested at the time.)

July-August: I kept praying during these months for clarity…

September – My co-pastor and I started dreaming together, he wasn’t completely on board yet, but he was willing to see what God wanted to do…

Oct-Dec – I personally met with potential core members to share the vision, while my co-pastor and I kept shaping the vision…

Jan – Feb – Core pastor agrees to be a part…we invited potential core team to an organizational meeting, committed core to vision, solidified core…

March – June – Core learnings – The core team divided responsibilities, then traveled to different churches, learning all they could about what a successful church might include.

July – Core Training – We met to make clear our vision and primary strategy.

August – Practice/Preview services – With these services, although we didn’t promote them, we invited anyone who wanted to attend.

September 11, 2005 – Launch church – The rest is our history post-launch…

That’s our timeline. How does that compare to your church plant?

Any questions? Please ask.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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9 thoughts on “17 Months from Start to Launch: The Story of One Church Plant

  1. We are wondering about importance of location. Are there any guidelines for seeing a location? Shouldn't we know that first before we can make a launch timeline? We have 25 committed people, all ages, and are just beginning. I feel like we shouldn't go on with anything until we know the neighborhood we are going to locate to. We are temporarily meeting in another church.

    • Honestly, I think vision, team, assignments, etc. are more important than even location, but location is important. More than that though, I'd look for the target audience. Who are you attempting to reach? No church can truly appeal to everyone and some people are less "reached" than others, geographically speaking. When you decide this, it helps with the location. I agree with you, decide the neighborhood, but in the meantime, you can be shaping who you want to be in a big picture way before the location is revealed. We knew who we wanted to reach, but didn't have a secure location until the week before we launched. It was a faith testing time!

  2. Wow! That looks a lot like what we are doing. I am currently in the core team meeting phase, dividing up responsibilities and seeing what everyone will do. I'll pull some wisdom from your post and have our team members visit some other churches. That would be great. Thanks for the info!

  3. Where did your core team come from? I'm 9 months into a church plant and was a parachute drop, so much of my time has been spent trying to find the core team…I'm up to six very committed people with lots of others who circle around the edges. Where did your core folks and your co-pastor come from?

    • We found our core through people we knew and referrals. We looked for those with a "holy discontent". I wrote a post about that here: http://www.ronedmondson.com/2009/03/keeping-core-… and here: http://www.ronedmondson.com/2009/07/one-secret-to

      They are people who would love church, if it was working for them. Maybe they got injured, it wasn't meeting their needs, their kids didn't enjoy it…etc. Often you can find these by connecting with a few pastors who aren't afraid of what they see as competition. (Hard to do…but doable.) Sometimes you can find them at other Christian organizations, such as the Y or a crisis pregnancy center. Ask around…who used to go to church but doesn't now.

      The co-pastor was referred to me…It was the same deal. He was ready to move, but felt called to the city…but wasn't in a church where he could really use his gifts or enjoy ministry.

      hope some of this helps.

  4. Thanks Ron. I'm not quite at 17 months for our church plant…but I could write up the 5 year journey to it. God had to change things in me and some of it was painful…but all of it was good.