Because of what I do, I love to visit new churches and take the opportunity to learn from them.
I worked on staff at a large church for ten years which gives me a unique perspective when I visit a church.
My background is in quality management so I pay attention to small details, systems and processes that affect the church experience. There are many things that impact a member’s experience and each is important.
So let me tell you about this church.
I received a promotional mailer from a start-up church in my community. The mailer had a great design and feel, so I thought I would visit.
The church does a great job – particularly considering they are a startup (they were six months old when I visited).
I was so impressed with what I saw I thought I would share all the things they are doing well!
This church meets in a middle school gymnasium so there are undoubtedly logistical challenges.
However, when you park your car, you are greeted with a friendly parking lot attendant.
Then as you walk to the door of the building there is someone opening it for you and as you stroll through the lobby there are countess people welcoming you and helping you find your way. It is clear that this church values guests and makes them feel as though they are part of the family.
2. Clear Mission and Vision
People who visit a church want to know what a church is about. Clear mission and vision statements help visitors understand who the church is and what they are trying to achieve.
It is very clear from the moment you step into this church that it is on a mission. Its mission is: “Helping people experience a life changing relationship through Jesus Christ.”
This mission statement is made clear in print, from the pulpit and is the first thing you see when you go to their website.
3. Great, Relevant Teaching
People go to church for many reasons. But the most important one is to learn God’s word in an applicable and relevant way.
The pastor is a gifted teacher and uses biblical principles to demonstrate how to apply God’s word to everyday life. I walk out of church feeling challenged, yet empowered to step into the world and make a difference.
4. Connection Between Pastor and Members
This pastor does a great job of connecting with visitors and members.
He reaches out to every visitor and offers to meet with them and answer any questions they may have about the church. He then learns what skills they have and he puts them to work.
A startup church is dependent on the help of its volunteers – as they are the labor engine of the church. When people are able to get plugged in quickly they have a sense of belonging and a purpose.
5. Pathway for Discipleship
There are a lot of great churches that successfully influence people to take a step toward Christianity. However, many lack a defined process to disciple them.
This church does a great job by providing four, what they call Next Steps. This pathway helps members:
- Understand what it means to be a Christ follower;
- Understand the mission and vision of the church;
- Identify their unique gifts and purpose;
- Identify an appropriate volunteer role.
This structured process helps everyone get on the same page and begin working toward a shared goal – which is fulfilling the mission of the church.
6. Small Group Opportunities
Church happens more than on Sunday morning. Small groups provide an opportunity for members to dive deeper into a biblical principle by discussing and sharing ideas and personal experiences. These interactions, with other believers, help to strengthen faith and deepen friendships.
Small groups are only as effective as those who lead them which makes leadership development a critical first step before launching these groups.
7. Programs for Children and Youth
Our kids are our future and this church understands that. They have developed programs that kids look forward to and want to participate in. These programs provide applicable teaching at a kid friendly level.
You stand in the lobby of this church and watch kids interact and you can tell they love being there. A kid who likes church is a kid who will be committed to their faith.
8. Active in the Community
This church recognizes that it is part of a community and the importance of stepping out and influencing those in their neighborhood.
They plan and sponsor events, as well as provide volunteer labor for community sponsored events.
After all what is the point of learning biblical principles without living them out?
The church prides itself on diversity and values a multicultural membership. They recognize the importance of bridging the cultural barriers within their community by welcoming people from all cultural backgrounds.
This church supports this effort by offering Hispanic translations for sermons and often you will hear these translations in praise and worship.
I often wonder what it is like to be from a different culture and live in a community where you don’t understand the language yet yearn to be connected.
10. Quality of Sound and Music
One of the first things that impressed me about this church was its ability to develop a great worship team so quickly.
This church clearly recognizes the importance of investing in the equipment to enhance the worship and teaching experience.
Good equipment makes everyone’s job easier and helps to create a great worship experience.
11. Professional Website
A professional looking website is imperative for any organization, particularly one that is trying to communicate who they are and what they are trying to accomplish.
This church has a great looking website with graphics that tell a story. It has a great layout, design and is easy to navigate. Another thing this church recognizes as important.
I made my decision to visit this church because their mailer peeked my curiosity and their website confirmed that it would be a good fit. I sometimes wonder how many great churches lose potential visitors because their website does not represent them well.
12. Use of Mobile Technology
One of my favorite parts of this church is its use of technology and how it embraces the mobile revolution. They recognize that technology can fill in the gap of paid and volunteer labor, as well as engage members in a church service.
I’d be willing to bet that there are not a lot of church plants that are using mobile technology to engage with members and to intentionally save time and money.
Within this church app members are able to give, view sermon notes sign up for events or sign up to volunteer. It is a great way to keep members engaged during and after the service. And when members input information in the app it makes Monday morning easier for the church office – because they won’t have to!
I admire people who have the guts to start a church. The challenges are great and it is an uphill climb. However, churches that are committed to excellence and take the steps to reach out, support and interact with their community will find success in what they do.
What tips does your church plant have to offer other church startups?