The ‘Zero Year’

Episode 655: The “Zero Year” is the time of preparation that leads up to the church plant. Host Clint Clifton interviews Matt Smethurst, planter of a brand-new church in Richmond, Virginia, about the various “Zero Year” factors that moved him into position to start his plant.

In This Episode, You’ll Discover:

  • How God first started to “mess with” Matt about planting a church in RIchmond
  • The way intentionally planting during the pandemic affected Matt’s decision-making process and the timing of the plant
  • What training, materials and resources he found helpful
  • Two things that most prepared Matt to be a church planter

Helpful Resources:

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Sharable Quotes (#NewChurches):

The “Zero Year” is a time of preparation that leads up to the church plant. Sometimes this is spent in a church planting residency. Sometimes it’s focused on fundraising. And sometimes it’s just it’s all the logistical stuff. It’s just simply moving to the place that you’re going to plant a church. @ClintJClifton

When I started looking at some of the demographic trends, it became clear that Richmond is growing at twice the rate of both the state of Virginia and the nation as a whole. Just that population growth and the gospel need gave us just a real heart for the place. @MattSmethurst

One mistake church planters sometimes make is to use data alone to make the decision about where they will go. But I think there is a part of church planting that, especially because you’re going to settle into a place for a really long time, it’s got to be a place you really want to be. @ClintJClifton

Two-thirds of our people are not coming from other Richmond churches. They have moved to Richmond within the past two years, and that means they haven’t really been able to put down deep roots in a community, in a church. In that regard, the timing of this church plant is is really ideal. @MattSmethurst

In my mind – and I think this is true theologically and biblically – I feel like I’m going from the supply line to the frontline in the kingdom of God. Organizations like TGC are at their best when they don’t understand themselves to be the tip of the spear in terms of kingdom advance, but understand themselves to be equipping and resourcing those who are at you know on the front lines. @MattSmethurst

I’m 38 and not 28, and I think it has helped me come into this knowing who I am and also who I’m not, and therefore what my church is going to be like and what it’s not. I’m I’m not under the impression that I or River City Baptist Church can be all things to all people. @MattSmethurst

At the end of the day, ministry is about shepherding. @MattSmethurst

It’s actually arrogant to assume you don’t need training. Anointing yourself to just go plant a church in a vacuum is a little bit like baptizing yourself. @MattSmethurst

If you’re a Type A, Alpha Male entrepreneur with an idea a minute and you can carry a crowd, that does not qualify you to plant a church. Do you love God’s people? Are you a shepherd? Do you want to feed them with the word of God and not just the ideas of man? @MattSmethurst

I’m a perfectionist, an optimizer. I’m always wanting to tinker and tweak and improve. But one of my fellow elders keeps reminding me that we need to play the 30-year game. We don’t have to have this well-oiled machine hitting on all cylinders from the very first week. Apple didn’t start by releasing the iPhone 6, right? In other words, start basic and, as God provides, you can add other things. @MattSmethurst

I always tell church planters, “Act your age.” Because they come out of the gate wanting to have everything. One of the byproducts of acting your age, though, is to focus on the main thing, and the most obvious main thing, the biggest feature of this new church, is going to be your Sunday morning gathering. @ClintJClifton

Now there will be repercussions. People will say, “Oh, you don’t have a youth group.” You’re going to have to let people come and leave because you don’t have all the services they think are necessary, but that is better than trying to provide all those things when you’re not equipped. @ClintJClifton


Published April 5, 2022

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