Thursday, January 29, 2009

Six Things You Need To Start A Traditional Church

1) Money - Lots of it. One church-planter suggested it would take as much as $18,000 to get started.

Another pastor emptied his savings account and spent $50,000 of his own money to start his church and some have suggested it could be as high as $8 Million.

Of course, depending on the size of your church, and your paid stafff, your numbers may vary.

2) Trained Professional Pastor - At least one charismatic, credentialed teaching pastor and visionary is necessary if you want to start a church. Chances are if you're seriously thinking about planting a church this person is you. Go ahead and check that one off your list.

3) Worship Leader and Worship Band - They should be made up of talented, experienced and professional-level musicians and largely volunteers, except perhaps for the worship leader who may receive a minor stipend each month.

4) A Building - Whether you rent, lease or decide to purchase a building you cannot have a successful traditional church without a building large enough to grow into. Must have a nursery, children's Sunday School rooms, and youth area.

5) Volunteers - Lots of them. These will be the people who handle child-care, set-up, tear-down and clean-up, and ushering. You cannot have a successful traditional church without a small army of loyal and dedicated volunteers.

6) Marketing - A website is a given, but you might also invest in postcards, door-hangers, invitation cards, bumper stickers and outdoor signage to attract the unchurched, or those who are shopping for a new church. Let them know your'e there or you will die a quick, yet painful, death.

*Notice that nearly all of these things are focused on developing the Church itself. Almost none of it is directed at making disciples, developing the spiritual health of those alongside you, or loving people in the community.

Three Things You Need To Start A Typical House Church

1) People - At least one other person than yourself.

2) God - Be sure to invite the Holy Spirit every time you meet and then wait for Him to speak and lead you.

3) A Place to meet - It could be a living room, a park, a coffeehouse, or any place large enough for the people who gather.

*Notice that having trained leaders, volunteers, thousands of dollars and an army of volunteers is greatly reduced. Also notice that worship leaders, buildings and marketing are completely unnecessary.

Just thought I'd share this with everyone.



Like a Mustard Seed said...

I like this breakdown here, as it seems that so often I'm coming across people who have these visions for a church that is really "different", who want to experience life in the body of Christ in a completely different way than they were raised, and yet, as they step out to start their "new" thing, all six of the things you mention here are all included. Sure, the buzz-words used are different, with various attempts to repackage the same old formula. But in the end, that's just what it is, the formula for building the church into a business, a business that spends most of it's time/energy/growth on itself, maintaining the infrastructure that is thought to be so necessary......


Troy Hamby said...

I was on the verge of planting a new "post modern" church through a church planting organization and the director told me that I must raise $100,000 on my own and they would match it...but they wouldn't partner with me until I raised that amount because that is the MINIMUM it would take to START with! The more I thought and prayed about this, the more disturbed I became because I realized that my generation couldn't care less about lights, websites and all the other bells and whistles. They yearn for relationships and no amount of money can buy that.

So, needless to say, we decided to go another route!

Scott D said...

Is there any room for a larger gathering or do you see this as a waste of time? I totally agree that we need to spend more time than we do in the traditional church on REAL discipleship. However I also see that value of a larger gathering. Even in the book of acts after Peters first sermon we see where the masses met in the temple court everyday and then the broke into more intimate groups of discussion a growth and fellowship. Is there an argument to be made for both?


Scott D

Keith Giles said...


There's a time and a place for everything, I think. So, while it's true that the New Testament does mention that the early church gathered occassionally as a larger group, that was not the norm for them, it was an exception.

Of course, there's nothing inherently wrong with meeting in the large group and I've been personally blessed by large worship conferences and at events where large groups gather, but I think that those times are "once in a while" types of gatherings, not "main and plain" types of gatherings where people are allowed to share equally, use their gifts to serve and bless one another, and share God's Word together.

It depends on what your focus is and, as you mention, our calling as the Body is to "make disciples" and to "teach them to obey everything that (Jesus) commanded them" - so if that's our main focus then the smaller group is better suited to this, and it's the main sort of gathering we see in the New Testament on a regular basis where people were meeting often and breaking bread together and encouraging one another in their walk.

Scott said...

I would agree with you to a point. I believe as I have studied the large group gathering was more prevalent than you might think. Jesus even made these gatherings a priority in His life. In luke the word says that as was His custom Jesus went to public worship to read the scriptures. To me this indicates a more public and larger group meeting.

I agree completely that smaller groups are a better place to learn and become disciples of Christ, however to me the larger group often feeds those questions and discussions for the smaller group.

On a side note, I have to say I really enjoy you stretching me and making me work though some of my thoughts. I pastor in a small community and it is easy to get caught in a rut. I truly am committed to life long learning and your thoughts truly provoke a lot of thought for me. So thank you for providing this type of dialogue.

Keith Giles said...


I think you and I are coming at this subject from two different angles.

My perspective is shaped by an understanding that Jesus fulfilled the Temple system on the cross. According to the New Testament authors (and as prophesied in the OT), Jesus, upon the cross, offered the final sacrifice, as the high priest, and destroyed the Temple (both of his body and the physical Temple), and created a new temple (that's us) not made with human hands, and a new priesthood (us again) who offer daily sacrifices (of our lives and of praise).

So, if I begin there, I don't see any need to return to an old testament, Jewish Temple form of worship because Jesus fulfilled those things and the NT tells us that we are the new temple, the new priesthood and the daily sacrifice.

When you point to Jesus and large crowds what I see is that Jesus did his best to AVOID those crowds. Yes, he did minister to the crowds and had compassion on them, but he also did his best to get alone with his 12, and to find time for prayer alone, and to thin the crowd with statements like "you must eat my flesh and drink my blood" to determine who was really following Him and who was just there to see the next miracle.

In our house church, since we don't have any larger gathering to inspire dialog, questions, etc. it is our daily interaction with Jesus, our daily reading of scripture and our daily experience practicing our faith that drives our smaller group discussions on Sunday morning and Thursday evening.

I would also thank you for challenging my ideas, Scott. God is teaching me the art of communicating truth without engaging in arguments. I really appreciate your heart.

If you go over to the [Subversive Underground] link to the left you'll find some articles I've written that deal with a lot of these questions you're asking here. Although, I'm happy to just have the dialog here if you prefer.


Scott said...


I think my biggest hurdle to overcome on house church verses organized church is that most Christians seem to be lazy. There seem to be very few who will take seriously enough their walk to prepare themselves for the small group dialogue that I really believe is more helpful to our walk than a larger gathering. I know that sound arrogant but it is a true statement.

So without the larger gathering to spoon feed those who are not ready I struggle with what to do with them. The ideal my be a home church setting, but I am still impressed in the need for a regular larger gathering.


Keith Giles said...


I used to think the same thing. When we first started our house church I assumed it would take us week or months before people broke out of their spectator mode and started opening up and sharing and using their giftings.

The amazing thing was that they immediately jumped into it with both feet. Granted some people were a bit shy and took a bit longer, but the majority of people were dieing to be released and share what God had poured into them.

Most of those in our house church, and probably your church, have spent most of their life in thew pew. They've heard hundreds and hundreds of sermons and thousands of bible studies. Encouraging them to start sharing it- - and better yet - LIVING IT OUT - is what house church is really all about.

Most of us could stop learning now and never live long enough to put all we've learned into practice.

Just try "loving one another" - that one sounds easy but it's a life-long journey.

I will also concede that the larger gatherings are good in many ways. There's nothing wrong with it and honestly, some people aren't ready to give that up.

I suppose I look at how God describes His church in 1 Cor 12 and Acts, etc. and I don't see how we can operate as a relational, family-oriented, organism if only one person is speaking while the other 500 sit and listen quietly.


Jerald said...

At the moment I'm involved with a group who is planning a new church start in my community. I love it because the group doesn't have any money or much experience in "doing church."
Every time they meet there is a prayer for God to lead and a concern that the group will hear what He's saying.
I love it!