As a planter awaiting the start of your new church launch, what do you see ahead of you? How do you feel as you look toward the future—excited? Or nervous? A mixture of both feelings? You know the date of your official church launch, and you have an idea as to how much work awaits you from here to there. You may be asking yourself, Okay, but how do I train my core team effectively? Well, here are the details to help get you started.
The teaching drive of this launch team training is to cast vision for your fellow core team members. You will spend these weeks explaining what your fellow planters can expect in the weeks to come. Here in this time, you will paint the beautiful picture of the life of your church to come and how your teammates will be the ones helping to reach those who are far from Christ. You want to cast a vision of not just people coming to your church to hear the gospel, but of your members carrying the gospel out to their community. The overall buy-in, vision, excitement, and anticipation in the beginning sets the tone for the rest of this launch season.
Many of your members are going to determine their involvement beyond week one based off of the words they hear from you throughout that first week. So, you’ll want to paint an expansive vision for reaching people for Christ, while also encouraging each member in his or her own involvement, membership, small-group community, and personal walk with the Lord. However, none of this is simply you as the church leader doing the work of your plant; instead, the work of these next 12 weeks encompasses you as an entire core team planting the church that you’ve been called to. None of this is just the work of you as one leader.
Here in the first week, you’re painting this big vision on the foundations of core team training, offering your people this idea of mission and membership. The next three weeks will be spent focusing on the biblical truths that ground and root you all as a core team. Note that this training will compose of three overarching themes: truth, community, and mission.
Following week one, the second week—Every Member Identified—encompasses your team’s understanding that our identity is no longer in ourselves or in sin, but rather in Christ. This overarching idea is that of justification: We have been justified before God and are no longer in sin, but instead in Christ. The gospel changes and shapes us, imparting to us a new identity. We’re establishing our biblical foundation here.
John 3’s story of Nicodemus encapsulates this newfound change of identity through life in Christ. This Pharisee made his way to Jesus as a very good, religious man seeking to find the truth of eternal life. What he found was the Lord’s proclamation that we must be born again, fleeing our previous identities and coming into a new life with Christ. This is the context of John 3:16, one of the key verses of the Bible. It’s essential for your team to understand that once the gospel leads them into a new identity, they are now found in Christ instead of in themselves.
You will want your core team to walk away understanding the answers to the big questions, like “What is the gospel?” and “How do I communicate this good news effectively?” You also want to teach and train them on the importance and role of baptism, emphasizing its meaning within the Christian life. You want them to understand baptism for their own benefit, but also for the benefit of those they converse with outside of the church. You want your core team to walk away being able to articulate what baptism is and why it is so important.
Devotion through Disciplines
Following Every Member Identified, you want to go into Every Member Devoted. Here, you will focus on sanctification and its role within our lives, which is to grow us in Christian maturity and holiness. We accomplish this sanctification through emphasizing the spiritual disciplines. There are three things to cover here, and one of those topics is spending time in God’s Word. So, what does it mean to have daily time in God’s Word? How do we experience meaningful devotional and quiet time? What does it mean to truly commune with God through His Word? You’ll dive into each of these topics to help your team gain confidence as they devote their daily lives to spending time with their Creator and Lord.
You will teach your core team about the importance of personal and corporate worship, how their involvement on Sundays and with the church body is just as important as their own personal worship at home with their families. You’re going to look into the importance and role of sacrificial giving as a spiritual discipline. Because Jesus talks a lot about money and its pull and strain on a person’s life, this is a subject we can’t pass over. So, you want your core team to build these spiritual disciplines early on through their time spent in this section.
Communing through Prayer
The third session is going to be Every Member Praying. This is the fourth training session, and its focus is on the role of prayer within the Christian life, as well as one’s devotion to prayer. It’s a major part of core team training overall, but you will want to also take a Sunday to focus a training session specifically on prayer. It’s an essential element for the core team’s life, both personally and corporately.
The next session follows the previous one on prayer. The following week, you will have a prayer-focused core team training meeting, meaning you will utilize this entire core team training to focus on prayer. You will pray for your community, your campus, your core team, and your church plant. You will pray for whatever you can add to this list for the benefit of the gospel going forward. You will pray in groups and personally, too. You will have the freedom to decide how best to carry out this session, but take a full core-team training session and implement the things taught and discussed the previous week.
Following your prayer-focused week, you’re going to step into a new series focused on community. This next session is entitled Every Member United. You’re going to dive into what it means to be unified as a church body under the mission set before them. You will dive into 1 Corinthians 1, where Paul speaks on the importance of unity and the issue of division within the church.
Next will be Every Member Connected, which emphasizes the importance and role of biblical community within the life of the church. Here, we outline the small-group structure and flesh out details regarding all things small groups. For example, will it be Sunday school-driven, or are you going to be divided into missional communities? You’ll take this time to explain the role of biblical community in the context of weekly discipleship.
Service through Love
The next session is entitled Every Member Serving. You and your team are going to look at 1 Corinthians 12, where Paul addresses spiritual gifts in the church. This week serves as a great opportunity to facilitate a spiritual gifts inventory test, where your people will navigate their giftings personally, as well as in the context of the core team as a whole. You’ll investigate further to see how they can best serve the body, and this session will wrap up our focus on community.
For week nine, we encourage you to spend this week’s session grouped together in the various serve teams for your campus. So, to follow last week’s session on serving, you will spend this week discussing how to best apply each member’s gifts in the service areas of your church plant. Consider the logistics needed to launch your campus through the lens of each person’s role. Allow the leaders of each serve team to guide those meeting times, sharing their needs and assets in the context of their individual volunteer teams. Through all of these findings and logistics, remember your chief aim is to serve your people, community, and church through love.
The next sessions will round out your launch team training and will fall under the “missions” umbrella. The next focus is Every Member Equipped. Here, you’re going to deal with the notion of evangelism and its relationship to each core team member. You’re going to teach a strategic evangelism method, explaining to them what conversion is, how it happens, and how you can lead someone to Christ. This is where you get into the more practical side of evangelism, equipping your core team members to live on mission within your community.
Next up is Every Member on Mission, so you’ll be dealing with this concept of living on mission. Here, as they head into launching this new church plant, they will be modeling missions for new people coming in, specifically the new Christians being saved. Because all kinds of people will be watching your core team members as they go forward in service to the church, you want to teach every member to live on mission, leveraging their influence for outreach.
Next is the final week before launch: Every Member at War. Every Member at War encompasses the concept of spiritual warfare within the Christian life. Because you will be very close to your launch, the temptation for division will be high. Things are going to fall through the cracks, and Satan will be going hard after your core team because of the amount of spiritual energy and focus that has gone into launching your new church; it may likely be a period of high anxiety and tension.
Therefore, the opportunity for sin and Satan to be at work will be high, so you will emphasize spiritual warfare during this penultimate training session.
Planning Your Big Day
This final week brings us into your launch day! You may be wondering what to plan for your initial Sunday gathering. One of the best ways to start your launch day strong is through a simple order of service. Begin by welcoming everyone and consider facilitating some sort of game with your core team. It’s great for laughter and for the overall culture of your core team, so you may want to spend eight-to-ten minutes in some sort of game. Then, consider inviting two of your core team members up for a question-and-answer discussion. Ask them serious questions about their spiritual life. Then, ask them silly questions that reveal more of their personalities. From there, enter into prayer, maybe through five minutes of focused, dedicated communion with God. Then, segue into your teaching time for the day, somewhere between 30-to-35 minutes.
Seek to fit this all into an hour-long session: two minutes on welcome, about eight minutes for a game, five minutes of interviewing some core team members, five minutes of prayer, and 30-35 minutes of teaching. Then finally, you will end your time in prayer, around three to five minutes, and then close.
Move Forward Expectantly
All of this is to provide direction and guidance for you as you step into these next moments with confidence as you go forward training your team. Remember, the time you spend investing in your launch team helps to cultivate the culture you want as you take the necessary steps towards being ready for your first Sunday as an official church.
Through it all, continue relying on the God who has called you to this great work of His power and might. So, move forward in expectation of all He will do through your church. You have put a lot of energy into the commencement of your new church plant, and we pray for your launch day to be the fruitful beginning of all your church’s ministry to come.
Published August 14, 2023