Today, people are able to build airplanes that fly because, a hundred years ago, the Wright brothers discovered the pivotal design that put the “flying” into “flying machine”. Those who want to create such a machine simply have to decide to build one, study the design, assemble the parts, and send the craft skyward.
Building a prevailing church requires the same process. The Pivotal Design has been discovered, and now it is up to a gifted and committed team of leaders to implement that design to create a prevailing church. Each new Mission Catalyst (MC) project follows a three-phase process, which is outlined below.
From day one, everyone must be aware of these cautions:
- Starting a church is harder than you think (no matter how hard you think it is!).
- Not everyone is wired or called to start and lead a church. Still, there are ways to affiliate with Mission Catalyst. Check out our Partner Affiliation Process.
- The DNA of the group forms quickly, which means you must be vigilant about creating positive DNA (which we call Book-of-Acts culture).
PHASE 1 – RESEARCH
Pray. Seek clarity about God’s call. Check your heart to be certain that your highest motive is to win people to Christ.
Explore the MC website, watch our short films, and make a note of any questions you have.
Schedule a listening session with MC staff to share your situation and vision and to learn more about MC.
Identify potential planting team members. The planting team consists of the three to four leaders who serve as the church’s initial staff. Each planting team member must have these characteristics:
- God’s call to start and lead a church
- leadership experience
- spiritual and emotional maturity
- commitment to serve on the planting team for at least six months
- commitment of at least 15 hours a week to leading the church (beginning in the Assembly phase)
Corporately, planting team members fill the six roles of the Pivotal Design team, listed below. This list does not describe all the positions or roles in the church; it includes the gifts that must be present on the planting team. The pastors function as specialists as opposed to generalists.
- Leader of leaders – This person identifies people’s potential and unleashes their gifts to create highly-effective ministry teams. He discerns those with leadership potential and helps them achieve maximum impact.
- People magnet – This person has close friends who are far from God. He loves hanging out with people who have no use for church and he prioritizes his time accordingly. His people skills are off the charts.
- Visioneer – This person discerns God’s desired future for the church, keeps the leaders focused on the big picture in spite of obstacles and distractions, and continually infects others with the vision.
- Strategy architect – This person has helicopter sense: he rises above the details to see the lay of the land. Once the big picture is clear, he maps out and navigates the journey from where they are to where they are headed.
- Systems architect – This person develops and implements leadership and operational systems. Systems are documented, ongoing processes that leave no detail untended, simplify complicated tasks, make training and leadership development easier, produce consistent results, and allow the church to grow large.
- Excellent preacher/presenter – This person consistently presents a transformational weekend message. Each presentation is Christ centered, biblically sound, entertaining, and has high take-home value.
Once your potential team members are identified, meet in person with an MC staff member to discuss your vision, introduce your team, and achieve clarity on the MC affiliation process. Your team is responsible for the expense of the trip.
If you and MC agree to continue with the process, the next step is to complete Planting Team Assessment. Team members of funded projects complete the full assessment process. While we strongly recommend the full process for all projects, team members of self-funded projects may complete the abbreviated assessment.
If the assessment is satisfactorily completed, team members attend a workshop. Details
After the workshop, if both parties agree to proceed, MC announces that a new project is entering the Assembly phase.
PHASE 2 – ASSEMBLY
- The planting team (or at least the lead pastor) participates in weekly coaching calls.
- The planting team reads the book Launch by Nelson Searcy.
- The planting team and available launch team members take field trips to prevailing churches in the area.
- The planting team holds weekly staff meetings.
- The launch team forms as planting team members and others invite people to check out or commit to the project. The launch team comprises those who attend and serve during the church’s pre-launch (Assembly) phase.
- The planting team recruits leaders for the pre-launch teams.
- The creative team meets regularly to plan monthly preview services.
- The church begins the 3 & 1 weekend format, comprising three monthly gatherings and one monthly preview service.
- The church begins to receive tithe and offering and pay forward member dues to the MC support office.
- The planting team raises funds from outside sources.
- The project establishes a professional web presence (e.g., website, Facebook).
- The planting team communicates weekly with the launch team and friends of the project.
- Launch team members pray for, spend time with, and invite people on their individual Impact Lists.
- The group holds monthly bridge events, which are easy to invite unchurched friends to. Examples include mini golf, ice cream in the park, and community service projects.
- The planting team chooses a mission project at least 100 miles away and recruits a team leader to form a team to facilitate the church’s support of the project.
PHASE 3 – FLIGHT
- The group has established healthy DNA, including a next-person focus.
- The group has settled on at least three planting team leaders who each (a) make a longterm commitment to leading the church and (b) serve at least 20 hours a week in leading the church.
- All other Pivotal Design components are in place.
- The group is experiencing sustained numerical growth and has launched, having progressed from the 3 & 1 weekend format to a full weekend experience every week.