The Church Startup

I think that starting a church is one of the most effective ways to fulfil our calling of going into all the world and making disciples. A church startup needs to come out of calling, which we cover shortly, but once that is there The Church Startup gives a framework where your vision, community profile, planning and resourcing can be documented on one page that keeps things simple and allows your team to align around the activities that matter most.


What we are aiming to do is look at what we can learn from the early church planters in the New Testament, and be respectful of our church traditions or more recent twentieth and twenty first century church models, but not be bound by historic ways of doing things that are either not relevant, don’t allow you to express your creativity and gifts or that meet the unique characteristics of the local community you are starting the church within.


This post is soon to be a book (which you can register for a copy for here) - but gives a high level understanding of the Church Startup Canvas so you can start implementing the principles now.


The Church Startup Canvas is a one-page plan on the aspects you need to work through to start your church.



It is split into 9 core areas that you need to develop as part of your church startup planning:

The top two sections, Community and Vision, represent the preliminary planning phases and the foundation of the local church that lens that everything else can be looked though. It’s about local pastors who have been called to a local group of people and been given a heart and vision for seeing them in relationship with Jesus.

The middle sections, Gather, Equip and Mission represent the key things we learn about church planting from the New Testament and the ways the early disciples organised themselves. They represent the key activities of the church and how we structure ourselves to provide them to our community in a relevant way.

The bottom four sections, Income, Expenses, People and Key Measures are about the operational resourcing and data we need to see the church function at its optimum.

1. Community: As a church pastor you are called to a local community that has unique characteristics. These are the people God has called you to reach and by identifying these characteristics you can be more informed in how to reach them.

2. Vision: People need a vision to follow – it’s the summary that articulates where you are heading. When you are pioneering something this picture is important in calling people to join you. It also becomes a simple statement that you can hold everything you do up against. In other words, if this new event, activity, program, team, outreach etc doesn’t contribute to achieving the vision then we shouldn’t be doing it.

3. Gather: All churches, including the early New Testament church, had a rhythm of how they gathered. In some cases it was the larger gathering in the temple, and sometimes within homes. In the early church this was daily and for us now weekly. The gathering is about finding a way to meet regularly for teaching, prayer, communion and fellowship. It’s about caring for one another and genuinely doing life together as followers of Jesus.

4. Equip: Jesus trained his twelve disciples and Paul did the same with those he travelled with. All people within a church need to be equipped and given a context to put the training into action.

5. Mission: As followers of Jesus we are called to make disciples. It’s the mission of everyone in the church to baptise them and teach them to live like Jesus. The equipping is about teaching people not only to grow in their own spiritual maturity but to learn how to lead people to Jesus in the places in the world God has put us. The mission context is about how as a church we reach out to our community.

6. Income: Income represent the money and resources needed to support the functioning of all the other parts of the model. Here we consider mainly the church income but also have an additional chapter on how the church pastor gets funded.

7. Expenses: Expenses represent where the money and resources will be used to support the functioning of all the other parts of the model. Having an implemented philosophy on how you use money in the church is important in setting up for success.

8. People: People represents how you will structure your governance, staffing, volunteers and leadership training to make sure your people are working effectively together.

9. Key Measures: The key measures are the data indicators that allow you to understand whether all parts of the model are working. Without data it is hard to objectively decide what iterations need to take place to improve on your church startup plan.


Let's look at some of these in more detail.


1. COMMUNITY

Starting a church is about a heart for people. Jesus’ first commandment was to love God. The closer you get to God the more you have a heart for people, because that is His heart and leads to the second commandment of loving people.

Once you know you have been called to start a church the first step is to start praying about the group of people that God is calling you to reach. For us the first step in that journey was about reaching the people in the area that we were living. While we had travelled for many years, it was the location that Kylie and I first met that we were called to reach.


You may find you are called to an area you are familiar with, or you may be called as far away as another country. Acts 1:8 gives us a model for this – we are called to be witnesses in Jerusalem – the home town of the people Jesus was speaking to, Judea and Samaria – their neighbouring areas and the ends of the world – and overseas destination. The point being that you need to know where God is sending you.

This community of people will have a unique set of characteristics and by understanding them it will help you develop the rest of your church startup plan. It is easy for us to assume the needs of a community but without researching or even finding a way to ask them we may present the church in a way that is irrelevant or even offensive.

In business terms this could be looked at as your target market. I don’t really like that phrasing for a church setting but the principles we can learn are very relevant. Its about collecting data and answering a set of questions that help you understand the strengths of the community that you can participate in and the needs that you may be able to meet as you practically love them.


If the location God is sending you to is overseas or within an indigenous group and is therefore a culture that you have limited understanding of, we’d encourage you to do further reading on cross-cultural ministry as there are other challenges presented.

On The Church Startup Canvas you want to add in a summary of the key characteristics of your community in the Community block. There will be more data sitting behind this – but this is the 1-2 sentences that give a high-level picture. To get that data you may need to look for census information, city summaries from online sources or even take a set of questions and do some door-knocking in the community to learn first-hand.

Types of questions you want to find out include the following:

  • Average age

  • Male to female ratio

  • Marital or family status and size of family

  • Average education levels

  • Family of origin backgrounds

  • Family earning capacity

  • Unemployment ratio

  • Other churches in the area and their characteristics

  • Community service providers that are operating in the area

  • Popular bars, cafes, restaurants

  • Key community groups such as sporting clubs

  • The local government authority and any major projects or issues on their agenda

  • Local tourist attractions

  • Key social and political issues

  • Common local interests and hobbies


2. VISION

You’ve probably heard the phrases – what is your vision or mission statement, or strategy, or what you believe, or your core values or your purpose. They all have valuable but sometimes we can spend a lot of time writing words on a page that become difficult to put into tangible execution.

Another way to look at vision with your church startup is to think 10 years down the track (or more). As people from both inside and outside are describing the church – what is you are hoping they are saying? Write this down in 100 words.

This is vision.

It is a future. A destination.

As a leader you need to know where you are going and you must be able to influence others to go with you.

Here's another couple of definitions of vision that may help:


“Vision is a picture of the future that produces passion”


“A clear mental picture of what could be, fuelled by the conviction that it should be.”

Andy Stanley - Visioneering

“Vision is the ability to see the opportunities within your current circumstances.”

Rick Warren


Vision helps to know the things you say yes to. Yes gives unity, purpose and direction. It gets everyone heading in the same direction and allows your resources, finances, time, prayer, gifts and talents to all be aligned.

Vision also helps to know the things you say no to. There is lots of model, blogs, websites, podcasts and programs that you get hold of and many are not right for your leadership style, culture, team or gift mix. People in your church will have lots of ideas and there is always the tension of doing more – so vision gives you a foundation that you can line everything up against to determine what you say yes to and what you say no to.

When we started our first local church, our pastor at the time said to make sure we guard our hearts on the things we knew God was calling us to do. The advice has proved to be invaluable as it’s about using vision to determine what you say yes to and what you say no to. As we grew there was pressure to add certain ministry areas, or not work with certain people in our community, or use our finances a certain way – and by holding true to the vision God gave us (and keep in mind it can evolve as you grow) – we were able to not adding more and more to the church for the sake of appealing to the ever-growing needs of our congregation. Instead we have chosen not to comprise on what we are called to do. While this has meant people have left the church we know that a single local church is not for everyone. Your vision is for a local pastor of a local church in a local community.

As you build your vision we need to remember we have a vision framework that we already operate in. As we have already read in Matthew 16:18 Jesus said “I will build my church.” In other words – we don’t need to come up with fresh vision – but just join in the cause that Jesus set over 2,000 years ago.

If church is the gathering of people around a common purpose – then that purpose must start with Jesus’ two greatest commandments.

Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord.  And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

Mark 12:29-31

We, like many others have distilled this down to the simple vision statement of “Love God, Love People”. If anything we do is not oriented around this or help us do it better – then it is not worth doing. It probably takes a lifetime to work out how to Love God and Love People so we’ve decided that we don’t need to get any more complex in a vision statement. That said, for others it is more helpful to have a different language set that fits with a specific call or something related to their community. Here are some other vision examples:

§ To make disciples of all nations.

§ To reach the greater _______ community and expand the Kingdom of God.

§ To be a place where love works.

§ Live like Jesus.

§ To lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus

Once you have your vision it is important to write it down – we get some examples from scripture on this.

I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guardpost. There I will wait to see what the Lord says and how he will answer my complaint. “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.

Habakkuk 2:1-3

Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.

Proverbs 29:18 (ESV)

When we planted our first church I thought that we just needed to give a message on our vision over a few weeks and people would get it. What we learnt was that we almost never stop communicating vision and it takes a while for people to get it. It needs to comes through in our preaching, our worship, our outreach and now we run quarterly “Catch The Vision” sessions where we invite new people in the church into our home to us go through where we have come from, where we are going and how they can get involved so the vision is clear and they can find their place in that.

In communicating vision there are few things we have learnt that will help.

Keep it simple. Almost like an elevator pitch – the high level perspective of the vision should be able to explained, giving someone an opportunity to connect to it in a matter of minutes.

Vision is best described with your stories. Stories make the vision real and reinforces what it looks like in action. It also gives people a chance to picture themselves there.

With vision there should be a call to action. You want people to understand how they get involved, not just listen to words.

As you communicate your vision you will find that you develop a language set around it. These are memorable phrases that help people make the vision active. A couple that have developed for us are “Be The Church”. It reminds us that church isn’t just a Sunday thing. Sunday is just part of us motivating one another to live out our life as followers of Jesus and be His ambassadors in the parts of the world we have been placed. Another one is “Visibility Is Credibility”. We’ve learnt that with our community outreach, it isn’t about a one-off event but rather getting outside the church building and involved with the community in all sorts of forms, always loving, always caring and always giving the same message. This consistency helps build trust and the visibility makes the church accessible.


With the Church Startup Canvas you can now write down the vision God has given you for your

local church.


3. GATHER

If we were to look at the New Testament and try to describe the church only using what we were able to learn about from the early followers of Jesus, it would be interesting to match it up against how we run church in today’s terms.

There are many traditions that have developed within the church that we just continue to follow and replicate. Some have meaning that is still relevant today and others are more a representation of culture than the “must-haves” of a church.

For example, why do most churches start their services with music. Is this a must-have to be a church, or is it just a tradition that has developed over time. Not all people in a community are going to connect to God with music, yet it is a prominent feature of modern, western churches. Another example is communion. It was originally a feasting time and over the course of that feast people stopped to remember who Jesus was and what He has done for us. These days many churches have a more sanitised version of communion that is neatly delivered with a small piece of bread or cracker and a small cup of grape juice. This is a more symbolic approach rather than the raw feasting approach of the early church.

I’m not suggesting any of these things are wrong. I’m also not suggesting that we should go back and be a church like the New Testament. What I am wanting to do though is give you permission to ask if you need to run your local church startup like all the other churches you have been in. The great thing about starting a church is you get to ask these questions, challenge the status quo, learn from the past but build for the future. I’m also wanting us to learn from Scripture and think about how the early followers of Jesus organised themselves as a church and how those principles apply to us today so that we can start churches that align scripturally but are contextualised for your local community and our generation.

So our answer to the question of how we would we describe the church of the New Testament, only using what the Bible says, is that there are three main things they did. These things form the basis of the middle section of the Church Startup Canvas – they gathered, were equipped and were on mission.

The early disciples gathered regularly which included teaching, fellowship, communion and prayer. A key insight into this is found early in Acts:

And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Acts 2:42-47

We can see here that they gathered in the temples and gathered in homes. We call this the big and the small of gathering.

The temple gathering gives the benefit of everybody in the church community together. When a larger group of people gather, there is great sense of the presence of God. A larger group of people tend to have access to a larger pool of resources and therefore have the potential to make a significant impact on their community.

The house gathering is about doing life well together. The more intimate setting allows for relationships to be well established and a setting where people support each other in the challenging times and celebrate with one another in the good times.

There are many more resources around how to effectively run your large gathering and how to maximise your small group gathering. The point here is that you need to determine the rhythm of how you will gather and we want to give you permission that this doesn’t need to just be on a Sunday. You need to reflect back on the parts of The Church Startup Canvas you have already written – your community and your vision – and determine what makes the most sense to fulfil that.

In our first church startup we chose to gather on the traditional Sunday. However rather than running a church service on the Sunday and small groups during the week we determined that many people in our church we living full lives. We highly valued the context of the small groups and generally in our society midweek attendance of small groups was about 30% of the church membership. Our response was that given people had already carved out time on Sundays to go to church we would alternate our large gathering (which we called Sunday Sessions) on the first and third Sunday of the month and we put our small groups (which we called Lifespace) on the second and fourth Sundays of a month. This allowed people to benefit from both types of church settings and kept space during their week to not have so many church meetings and events happening – but have space for people to reach out to those in their world (as a side note in our first few years we saw our small group attendance in the 80-90% region).

Once you’ve worked out your rhythm, you then need to work out what you will do when you gather. If we look at the early church one thing that can’t be neglected is the love and care for the people within the church. As Jesus says

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 13:34-35

If we can’t love fellow followers of Jesus, then how are we going to be able to love those outside of the church. If we are genuinely looking after each other, our emotional, spiritual and physical needs, then we are in a good state to love others. We see with the early church they intended that none were in need.

The other aspects of your gathering that we read about from the Acts 2 passage is fellowship, communion, prayer and teaching. We know they also sang songs and worshiped together and they found ways to spread the gospel message and plant churches.

We are not going to unpack all of the elements you might include in your gathering in this book – but do take a closer look at keys parts of how the early church met – equipping and being on mission.

Remember in your gathering what the writer of Hebrews says:

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”

Hebrews 10:24-25

On The Church Startup Canvas you can now complete the Gather block including the rhythm that you will meet as well as the key elements of what will happen when you meet.


4.EQUIP

The first people that started churches were part of Jesus’ twelve disciples. They had spent about three years with Him in which he was training them to spread His message when He eventually left earth. Jesus taught them, he practically demonstrated what He was teaching then gave the disciples opportunities to put their training into action. Consider the following scripture as an example of Jesus equipping His disciples:

One day Jesus called together his twelve disciples and gave them power and authority to cast out all demons and to heal all diseases.  Then he sent them out to tell everyone about the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick.  “Take nothing for your journey,” he instructed them. “Don’t take a walking stick, a traveller’s bag, food, money, or even a change of clothes. Wherever you go, stay in the same house until you leave town. And if a town refuses to welcome you, shake its dust from your feet as you leave to show that you have abandoned those people to their fate.” So they began their circuit of the villages, preaching the Good News and healing the sick.

Luke 9:1-6

Once the early church began we read that the Apostles continued to teach, equipping the followers of Jesus to continue to spread the Gospel message. They followed Jesus’ model by teaching, then demonstrating and then giving new followers the opportunity to put the training into action. Paul often did this by taking young disciples with him on his travels such as John Mark, Silas and Timothy. In regards to equipping, Paul said this to Timothy:

“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.”  This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it. This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers.

Teach these things and insist that everyone learn them. Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. Until I get there, focus on reading the Scriptures to the church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them.

Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received through the prophecy spoken over you when the elders of the church laid their hands on you. Give your complete attention to these matters. Throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress. Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you.

1 Timothy 4:8-16

When we look at the early church we also see how followers of Jesus are equipped with spiritual gifts. Paul describes this as each of us having a part to play and in 1 Corinthians 12 he likens this to how different parts of a body function together. Paul had to intervene in the church in Corinth to give guidance on how these spiritual gifts should be used and is just a further example of the ongoing equipping that is needed in a church startup.

We fight in our society against consumerism and so in the church, assuming we are caring for people (part of our gathering point) this is about people not being spectators or consumers but active participants who desire to come and serve. We need to create a place where the things the church is learning can be put into action and the attitude is shifted towards what you can give rather than what you will get out of it. I say all this to make sure that as you reflect on how you will equip people in your church, it goes beyond just theoretical and theological teaching and is not just about people serving in the church, but equipping them to live in the world as a followers of Jesus who is making other followers of Jesus.

When you are equipping people in the church I think it is also important to plan out a balanced perspective to the things that Jesus taught. We tend to have our own slant towards topics that have built our own faith or that we are passionate about. In churches I have seen where this slant goes too far one way. For example, when it is all about practical love the church can become more like a charity or a social justice organisation. If it slants too much towards the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit, then we create a culture where people are always searching for the miracle or a tangible touch from God. If we just become about the Bible, with an evangelical exegesis in every message, then in pursuit of an intellectual understanding of God we can miss the relational and emotional aspect of God. The point is that all of these elements of the Christian life have their place – they are just not the only things can’t be taught in isolation to the breadth of the Christian experience. As we equip people in the church we need to teach across all the things that Jesus taught. Jesus tells us this in the Great Commission:

“Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:20

Part of the Equip block is taking the time to think about what you will be teaching to begin with, how you will teach that and how you will get people to put that into action.

By way of example in our first church startup – each year we build a 12 month theme for our teaching. We prepare a bible reading plan in advance of the year, so our church can read the key scriptures ahead of the teaching time at the service. I’ve included some of the annual themes below to help elaborate this and you can reach out if you’d like the specific content.

  • Making disciples who make disciples – looking at the discipleship models of Jesus and Paul and how we put them in place today

  • Looking at the Old Testament Characters as a type of Jesus – linking the Old Testament to the New Testament as each character foreshadows Jesus

  • The things that Jesus said – there was about 50 commands Jesus gave and we studied one each week

We have also offered one mid-week course for those who would like to go deeper in a specific topic. These have included courses that we have developed such as:

  • Everybody Gets To Play – content to help people discover how God has uniquely made them (personality, intelligence type, spiritual gifts, heart motivation, love languages etc) and where that means they fit from a kingdom purpose

  • Avodah – looking at how your work and faith interact

  • Christian Stuff – the basics of Christianity including The Bible, Creation, Separation, Jesus, Holy Spirit, and The Church

  • Better Together – targeted at singles and marrieds this focuses on doing relationships well

On The Church Startup Canvas, you can now complete the Equip block covering off the method that you will use to teach and how that will be put into action.


5. MISSION

The final aspect of the church in the New Testament that we learn from and need to put into practice, is the context of mission.

Mission begins with Jesus Great Commission. He says:

“I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Matthew 18:18-20

Often the “go” part of this scripture is misinterpreted as go somewhere else – other than where you are at the moment. A better way to understand this is “in your going” or as we read in the ESV translation “go therefore”. The relevancy is that in starting a church you need to go to the community that God is calling you to. For some this will be heading to other nations and new cultures, for others it will be in the location you have been living.

We need to recognise that in this scripture Jesus is talking to the eleven disciples that were present with Him during His ministry on earth, but also to all His disciples to come. As followers of Jesus we all have responsibility to make disciples, baptising them and teaching them to obey the things that Jesus taught us. Many modern churches teach people to bring people to church, so that that the “professional pastors” can then lead them to Christ and baptise them. I believe we need to flip this and be teaching people in our church how to lead people to Christ – and then coming to church is about them joining other followers of Jesus to gather, care for one another, get equipped and get on mission.

Jesus also gave other strategies to the early church on how to do mission. Before He ascended to heaven He says:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Acts 1:8

Here Jesus outlines three areas that we need to go to – Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and the end of the earth. For the people He was speaking to Jerusalem was their home town, Judea and Samaria were the neighbouring regions and the ends of the earth became nearby countries they started visiting. We have aligned this to our own mission strategy by starting mission in our hometown – Perth city. We have then expanded to the regional areas of our own nation in The Kimberley region and then decided that our “ends of the earth” is heading to one other nation. Outside of our hometown mission, our strategy has been to find other local churches and partner with them in their work. We have realised that as they are on the ground reaching out to the community they are called to – we can best support them by praying for them, sending teams to encourage them, and providing resources to help progress key projects for them that lift their profile as they practically love their own communities.

There are many mission organisations to get involved with and many people in your church will have various causes they want to support, but we have found that this approach doesn’t mean your mission focus is diluted. When you partner with the same organisations over many years, there is a strength in the relationships that are created and by putting greater resources into fewer partner organisations, you can see the impact of that work usually with greater long term fruit.

With that foundation on mission we need to understand what mission could look like and at the heart of this is fullfiling Jesus’ command to love other people. Throughout scripture when God’s people love other people, it demonstrates the love of God in a very real and tangible way.

In this mission sense, love is both proclaimed and demonstrated. It is both practical love that is a more servant evangelism style and is also about seeing the God’s love tangibility manifest in someone’s life, like praying for them to be healed and is a more power evangelism style.

To unpack this lets begin with the practical love which is how love is positioned many times in scripture. Isaiah says this well:

“No, this is the kind of fasting I want. Free those who are wrongly imprisoned,
 lighten the burden of those who work for you.
 Let the oppressed go free,
 and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry,
 and give shelter to the homeless.
 Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.”

Isaiah 58: 6-7

Paul talks a lot about loving others and says that anything else we do in our spiritual journey means nothing unless it is founded in loving others:

“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it, but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.”

1 Corinthians 13: 1-3

Jesus himself talked about loving people in practical ways:

“Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’ And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’”

Matthew 25:44-45

The idea of loving people is not just about generic acts of kindness. If we really love people, then ultimately we want to see them in a relationship with Jesus, knowing that at that point they will be able to live their life to the fullest, as their eternal future is secured. We have to make sure that this is not just about us looking for great things to do in our community, but that we are constantly pointing people towards Jesus, giving Him all the glory, all the praise and all the honour.

What we have learnt though, is that this practical love is an effective way of introducing people to God. Finding ways to practically love people nudges them towards God in a non-confronting way, that removes the preconceptions of religion or other methods of evangelism. We have found that people are often humbled when something is given to them, rather than them being asked to give something. We have seen such great response to this and believe in it as a method of mission that we previously wrote a book on the topic called Love Love – don’t just pretend to love people… really love them. With our first church startup, we found that when it came to practical love people would often default to making meals or doing gardening projects so this book was written to both provide a theology on practical love as a way of mission and servant evangelism, but also provide over two hundred ideas on how to love people to encourage a bit more creativity.

One thing to be said about practical love is to research the need in the community that you are called – but don’t assume need. By way of example, when we looked into our community with our first church startup to find where some of the needs were, one of the more obvious places was a group of homeless people. While we first assumed that the way to help them was by providing a place to stay, or providing them with meals, this turned out to be an incorrect assumption. Their primary need was actually a desire for conversation and having a group of people where they belong. When we were giving away hamburgers many of the homeless community would prefer to come and cook and serve the food, offering a service to the community themselves, rather than just eating the food.

You will find that there are many needs in your community and when it comes to starting mission with your church startup we recommend thinking first about your hometown and the community you have been called to, as opposed to other neighbouring areas or nations. Once you have mission working in your hometown then you can consider expanding this to other areas.

Mission isn’t just about practical love though. We have said that to ultimately love people is to see them in a relationship with God, knowing at the point they receive Christ as their Lord and Saviour they will live their life to the fullest. While one way of loving people is through a practical love, another way is by responding to the Holy Spirit, believing that in a moment, someone can have an encounter with the living God that will change their life.

This is the idea of power evangelism, a term first coined by John Wimber. He said that it is “evangelism that transcends the rational through the demonstration of God’s power in signs and wonders and introduces the numinous of God.”

Jesus made the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, healed the sick, raised the dead, stilled the storm, multiplied fish and loaves and many more signs and wonders that are still happening today. We need to listen to the Holy Spirit’s promptings. We need to have the faith that God will heal someone when we pray for them, that God can give us prophetic words for people, or words of wisdom and discernment, that we can cast out demons and live the supernatural life that Jesus died for and that we were intended for.

Both servant evangelism and power evangelism are about presenting the Gospel and equally play a part in pointing people towards God and form part of our mission context.

On the Mission block of the Church Startup Canvas you can write the first one or two “projects” that have the church engaged in outreach. As you think about preparing this there a few things to consider.

As we have said don’t assume need and make sure you have researched this and talked to those people Sometimes your mission is not about starting something new but joining in good works that are already taking place in the community and being a Christian influence where need is already being met.

We mentioned earlier that part of the language set we have developed is the terms “Visibility is Credibility” as this is highly relevant when you think about mission. When Jesus loved people, he typically went to where they were, rather than expecting them to come into a meeting place he was already at. As the church we need to get out of our buildings and get on mission where we can be seen.


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© 2020 Derek Gerrard