- Jim Townsley
- May 11, 2012
The final six months prior to the first service can be compared to the preparations for a wedding. It wouldn't seem that there is that much to do, yet by the time it arrives everyone is totally exhausted. I can assure you that the months previous to a first service will be the busiest days of your life. There are so many things to do it is important to develop a check list. The following list is not exhaustive, but it is thorough. Take the time to review this list and personalize it to your specific situation.
Church signs should be prepared to place in the front of the meeting facility and in some cases interior signs should be prepared to locate the auditorium, nursery, Sunday school, and bathrooms. Notices and display ads should be prepared and deadlines for publication must be met. TV advertizing and public service announcements must be prepared according to the deadlines given. Bulk mailings must be prepared and mailed in a timely fashion. These may need to be started two months before the first service. Publication deadline are usually earlier than inexperienced pastors may realize. Posters must be designed, printed, and distributed well before the first service. The web site should have been completed one year before the first service, but it may need to be updated previous to the start of the church.
The meeting place must be secured a few months before the first service. Sometimes there are delays and cancelations and time must be allowed for things to go wrong and still be corrected.
A checking account must be opened and be activated. All offerings and income should be deposited in this account. The church checking account must be separate from your personal account. You may choose to hold meetings with supporting pastors and this requires planning and scheduling. A charter must be designed and prepared. Application for tax exemption should be initiated and secured as soon as possible. An employer identification number must be secured. This is quite simple, but legal aspects of the church should be reviewed by legal counsel.
Visiting churches must be informed and organized to help distribute literature. Thank you letters should be written to supporters and every team that helps visit.
The Constitution and by-laws should be developed and printed well before the first service. The constitution should also be accompanied with a doctrinal statement and a covenant of the church.
Several items will be needed for the services of the church. A pulpit, a piano, song books, chairs and tables are all obvious needs to hold services. (THE SWORD OF THE LORD will provide free song books to every new fundamental church plant.) Less obvious items needed for the first services may include a sound system, nursery equipment, Sunday school material, a communion set, and offering plates. Other office equipment should have already been purchased and used earlier in the process of preparation.
Two budgets should be prepared. A personal (survival budget) should be prepared for the pastors' personal expenses and a second budget should be prepared for the expenses of the church. In addition, temporary support for the new church should be documented and tracked.
Visitor cards, the order of service sheets, tithing envelopes, ink pens, visitation cards, visitor packets, bulletins, tracts, faith promise cards, and decision cards are all important to prepare well before the first service.
John and Romans Distribution
Several months before the church holds that first service, literature must be printed. Distributing John and Romans is a frequently utilized tool. These must be ordered and designed several months prior to the start of the church. These will need to be stuffed in weather-proof bags and possibly a special first Sunday postcard inserted as well. Distribution maps should be prepared prior to the arrival of teams coming to help distribute the packets. Distributions should be primarily that last four weeks before the first service.
Tracts, church stationary, a church brochure, a church logo, and a pastor's business card should all be secured well before the start of the new church.
The First Service
Holding special times of prayer is vital to the new church. Ushers and nursery workers should be designed and they may be from a visiting church at least for the first service. Altar workers should be prepared to counsel people making decisions at the altar. The auditorium must be clean and organized. Song books should be placed on the chairs and all chairs should be in perfect alignment. A visitor card could be placed on every seat. In a rental facility it is important to present the meeting place as much as possible like a church. A display table or visitors desk should be evident as people enter the sanctuary. Recording and sound equipment should all be tested and set up properly. An order of service should be prepared and distributed to every participant in the service.
Many of these details could be prepared well in advance of the final weeks prior to the first service. Even sermons could be developed well in advance. Why is it important to get these things done as early as possible? Because the last two months should be spent by the pastor visiting from morning until night. If all these details are left for the end, valuable time will be taken from visitation and soul winning. Meeting and talking with people face to face is of the utmost importance. It is also extremely helpful to have a supportive wife who may also accomplish many of these tasks. As you can see, church planting is not for the faint of heart! Following that first service everyone involved will be worn out, but at the same time they will be extremely gratified.