Today, people are able to build airplanes that fly because, a century ago, the Wright brothers discovered the pivotal design that put the “flying” into “flying machine”. Those who want to create such a machine simply have to decide to build one, study the design, assemble the parts, and send the craft skyward.
Building a prevailing church requires the same process. The Pivotal Design has been discovered, and now it is up to a gifted and committed team of leaders to implement that design to create a prevailing church. Each new Ministry Advantage (MA) project follows a three-phase process, which is outlined below. The phases are research, assembly, flight.
From day one, everyone must be aware of these cautions:
- Starting a church is harder than you think (no matter how hard you think it is!).
- The DNA of the group forms quickly, which means you must be vigilant about creating positive DNA, which we call Book-of-Acts culture.
- Step 1
- Pray. Seek clarity about God’s call. Check your heart to be certain that your highest motive is to win people to Christ.
- Step 2
- Step 3
- Schedule a listening session with MA staff to share your situation and vision and to learn more about MA.
- Step 4
- Identify potential planting team members. The planting team consists of the three to four leaders who serve as the church’s initial staff. Click here to learn more about the planting team.
- Step 5
- Once your potential team members are identified, meet in person with an MA staff member to discuss your vision, introduce your team, and achieve clarity on the MA affiliation process. Your team is responsible for the expense of the trip.
- Step 6
- If you and MA agree to continue with the process, the next step is to complete the Planting Team Assessment. All team members of funded projects complete the full assessment process.
- Step 7
- If the assessment is satisfactorily completed, team members attend a workshop.
- Step 8
- After the workshop, if both parties agree to proceed, MA announces that a new project is entering the Assembly phase.
During this phase, which takes between three and 23 months (depending on the size of your launch team or core group), you are not “doing church” as much as you are “building church”. The project begins in earnest, and concrete steps are taken to bring together the Pivotal Design components. Actions include:
- The planting team (or at least the lead pastor) participates in weekly coaching calls.
- The planting team reads the book Launch by Nelson Searcy. (Click here to purchase.)
- The planting team and available launch team members take field trips to prevailing churches in the area.
- The planting team holds weekly leadership meetings.
- The launch team (or core group) forms as planting team members and others invite people to check out or commit to the project.
- The launch team comprises those who attend and serve during the church’s pre-launch (Assembly) phase.
- The planting team creates the ministry infrastructures and recruits leaders for the pre-launch teams.
- The creative team meets regularly to plan monthly preview services.
- The church begins the 3 & 1 weekend format, comprising three monthly gatherings and one monthly preview service.
- The church begins to receive tithes and offerings.
- The planting team raises funds from outside sources.
- The church establishes a professional online presence (website, Facebook, etc).
- The planting team communicates weekly with the launch team and friends of the project.
- Reach Out
- Launch team members pray for, spend time with, and invite people on their individual Impact Lists.
- The group holds monthly Bridge events to which people can invite their unchurched friends. Examples include mini golf, ice cream in the park, and community service projects.
During this phase, the planting team sets benchmarks for the project and gauges its progress, ensuring that the Pivotal Design components are coming together and that the project is on the path to becoming a prevailing church. When all benchmarks are met satisfactorily, MA announces that a new church is entering the Flight phase.
The project is announced as a Ministry Advantage Church when:
- The group has established healthy DNA, including a next-person focus.
- The group has settled on at least three planting team leaders who each (a) make a long-term commitment to leading the church and (b) serve at least 15 hours a week in leading the church.
- All other Pivotal Design components are in place.
- The group is experiencing sustained numerical growth and has launched, having progressed from the 3 & 1 weekend format to a full weekend experience every Saturday or Sunday.