7 Top Issues Church Planters Face #4: Systems

Systems and Processes

Planters usually begin their planting journey with great intentions. Their strengths tend to be relationships and their passion is often looking toward weekend church gatherings.

Starting a church is not easy, but it is often when the church has the most receptivity in the community. With certain exceptions churches will not maintain the momentum that most church planters are seeking. Once the newness wanes, momentum must be transferred to sustainable systems. In new churches, intentional systems and processes are critical to long-term impact in the community.

Darrin Patrick explained why most churches stay small.

Most churches stay small because most pastors don’t know how to build systems, structures, and processes that are not contingent upon them. Most pastors can care for people, but don’t build systems of care. Most pastors can develop leaders individually, but lack the skill to implement a process of leadership development. When a pastor can’t build systems and structures that support ministry, the only people who are cared for or empowered to lead are those who are “near” the pastor or those very close to the pastor. This limits the size of the church to the size of the pastor.
Five Key Considerations are Examined When Addressing the Issues of Systems and Processes.

1. God’s Part and Our Part
Healthy systems and processes enable and facilitate growth, but don’t cause it. The Apostle Paul explained that we cooperate with God in the planting and watering of the seeds, but that it’s God who makes the seeds grow (1 Cor. 3:6). Establishing healthy processes, systems and cultures is part of our cooperation.

2. A Fix-It Mentality
Most planters tend to ask good questions regarding systems and processes including, “How do we reach more people?” or “How do we keep moving forward?” The answer may include the creation or revising of a system or process. Issues are often much deeper. Simple solutions to complicated problems are not always reasonable.

3. Assessing Health
Systems and processes must be continually assessed for their contribution to the mission. Do they create leverage for growth and momentum, or are they creating barriers and obstacles?

4. Pre-Launch Behaviors
Like a pre-natal baby in a mother’s womb, the things a planter does and does not do during the core phase will have lasting impact for years to come. Planters must intentionally create health through the establishment of systems and processes, or they risk birthing unhealthy churches.

5. Urgency and Accountability
When building a new house, most localities require an occupancy permit before a family can move in. A permit guarantees that the basic systems are healthy and functioning. There is no equivalent standard or requirement in new church plants. As a result, many new churches are built with the equivalent of no water, no electricity and no suitable foundation. Basic systems and processes cannot be rushed or haphazardly created. They allow the planter the time and energy to focus on the entire direction of the church, rather than on the details.

Conclusion (by Acts 29)

1. Ask systematic questions about each of the eight critical areas below to build a healthy church. A) What is the intended outcome for this area? B) How is it best communicated? C) What are the steps to accomplish the outcome goals? D) Who will lead each of these areas? E) How will progress be measured? F) What role (if any) will the lead pastor play in contributing to or overseeing these areas? G) What measures of accountability or ensuring progress will be put into place? H) What funds are necessary to sustain the area?

i. Teaching and preaching and doctrine
ii. Making Disciples (evangelism and mission)
iii. Community and Community Groups
iv. Worship
v. Reproducing leaders and staff development
vi. Finances and corporate generosity
vii. Strategic planning
viii. Family, marriages, children and youth

2. We must have a methodology but guard against a methodolatry. Methodolatry is worshiping your methods instead of worshipping Christ with your methods. It also believes that a certain method will produce a specific outcome.
3. Listen to Leadership within the Local Church by Pastor Tyler Jones.
4. Listen to the teaching from the Raleigh Boot Camp by Pastor Jamie Munson on Systems and Structures.

Want to learn more about systems, processes and church-planting? Consider attending one of our upcoming boot camps.

Top 7 Issues Church Planters Face Series:


Abbreviated from a Report Prepared by Exponential and Ed Stetzer.

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