7 Issues that Church Planters Face: Systems, Processes and Cultures

Systems, Processes, and Cultures

Planters usually begin their planting journey with great intentions. Their strengths tend to be relationships and their passion is often looking toward Sunday mornings. With certain exceptions (large start-up teams, ideal locations, well funded) churches will not maintain the momentum that most church planters seek are wanting. Start up is not easy, but it is often when the church has the most receptivity in the community. Openness and response from open people create a sense of momentum. But, that momentum must be transferred to systems. In new contemporary churches, intentional systems, processes, and cultures are critical to long-term impact in new contemporary churches.

My friend Darrin Patrick explains that in an interview we did a few months back. In regards to church planting, I asked him, "Why do most churches stay small?" Darrin explained:

Largely because most pastors don't know how to build systems, structures, and processes that are not contingent upon them. Most pastors can care for people, but don't build systems of care. Most pastors can develop leaders individually but lack the skill to implement a process of leadership development. When a pastor can't build systems and structures that support the ministry, the only people who are cared for or empowered to lead are those who are "near" the pastor or those very close to the pastor. This limits the size of the church to the size of the pastor.

Yet, now it seems that most planters know the importance of creating healthy systems, processes, and cultures in the type of churches we have been discussing. In most cases, their focus is to reach lost and other unchurched people and see the church grow numerically and in spiritual maturity. Nowadays, most planters link a growing church with healthy systems, processes, and cultures. The terms, though different, are often used interchangeably. In this study, the most commonly cited areas of importance for these systems include reproducing leaders; generosity; externally focused, missional living; small groups; worship planning; strategic planning; and evangelism.

Rather than focus on those systems right now since those each require a long blog post, let's look at five key considerations when addressing the issues of systems and processes.

1. God's Part and Our Part -- Healthy systems, processes, and cultures enable and facilitate growth, but don't cause it. The Apostle Paul explained that we cooperate with God in the planting and watering of the seeds, but that it's God who makes the seeds grow. "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth" (I Cor. 3:6 HCSB). Establishing healthy processes, systems and cultures is part of that cooperation.

2. A “Fix-It” Mentality -- Most planters tend to ask good questions regarding systems and processes including, "How do we reach more people?" or "How do we keep moving forward? The answer may include the creation or revising of a system or process. But a narrow focus can lead planters down the wrong path when they conclude, "If we just fix [fill in the blank], then we will grow." Issues are often much deeper.

3. Assessing Health -- Systems, processes, and cultures will emerge from the pre-launch phase. The only question is whether they are healthy or unhealthy. Will they create leverage for growth and momentum, or will they create barriers and obstacles, adding to a planter's stress?

4. Pre-Launch Behaviors -- The pre-natal phase in a mother's womb is vital to an infant's health after birth. The things a mother does and does not do during this time have lasting impacts. Likewise, the things a planter does and does not do during pre-launch phase have a lasting impact for years to come. Planters either intentionally create leverage through the establishment of healthy systems, processes, and cultures, or they risk creating barriers and obstacles.

5. Urgency and Accountability -- When building a new house, most localities require an occupancy permit before a family can move in. A permit guarantees that the basic systems (i.e. water, sewer, electrical, lighting, etc.) are healthy and functioning. There is no equivalent standard or requirement in new churches. As a result, many new churches are birthed with the equivalent of no water, no electrical and no lights. Basic systems might include disciple making, evangelism, leadership development, and volunteer mobilization. The "Tyranny of the Now" and the lack of accountability structures impacts a planter's ability to create healthy processes and systems in three ways:

6. Capacity -- Everything tends to fall on the planter's shoulders. Although the planter would like to slow down and "do it right," a planter often gets caught in the urgent accepting, living with unhealthy systems. Many planters recognize the dysfunctional cycle, but get stuck in it, further adding to the stress and discouragement.

7. Choices -- Leaders make daily choices to focus on production or production capacity (in the work or on the work). Sometimes it seems that production never stops, easily consuming all of the planter's time. Sunday to Sunday pressure alone can be overwhelming. Making wise choices is one of the keys to managing the roles. Building healthy systems, processes and cultures is a function of good strategic planning around available capacity.

8.  Time -- Time is one of a planter's most precious resources. Starting a new church involves hundreds of tasks. Most of these tasks do not involve connecting with lost people or building healthy system. That can be a stretch for a lot of planters and a great source of stress.

Systems, processes, and culture are essential. Sustainability and fruit are almost always advanced when a planter understands that importance.

Why We Should be Thankful for the Gift of Gratitude

Why We Should be Thankful for the Gift of Gratitude

Originally Posted by Joe Carter / November 19, 2016

Of all the heavenly gifts we have to be thankful for, the most frequently overlooked is the gift of gratitude. From the ants to the elephants, God has poured out his blessings on all his creatures. But to man alone is reserved the ability to combine reason and imagination to express his thankfulness. G. K. Chesterton even claimed that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.

There are dozens of virtues that a Christian should acquire, many of which are extremely important to our spiritual growth. What then, is so special about gratitude? Why should it be considered a discipline worthy of particular attention, and why is it necessary for communion with God?

Because the regular practice of gratitude is a means by which we become rightly oriented toward God. Only when we become truly grateful for what God has done—when thankfulness has seeped into the marrow of our soul—can we fully appreciate who God is and understand who we are as his children.

Why Gratitude is an Essential Virtue

Here are three reasons gratitude is an essential virtue for spiritual formation:

1. God requires our thanksgiving

The most important reason we express gratitude is because God requires we offer him our thanks. In Psalm 50:22, God says, “Consider this, you who forget God, or I will tear you to pieces, with no one to rescue you: Those who sacrifice thank offerings honor me.” God takes our gratitude—or lack thereof—extremely seriously. We are always required to give God what he is due—including our thankfulness.

2. Gratitude keeps our focus on God (and off ourselves)

When we develop a habit of gratitude we are constantly asking two questions: “For what should I be grateful?” and “To whom do I owe thanks?” The more we express our gratitude the more our eyes are opened to the magnanimity of God and his generosity in bestowing us with goodness and blessings. When we see how much we owe to God it helps to reduce our own self-centeredness. 

3. Gratitude develops endurance and trust in God

As we grow in gratitude, we learn to be thankful not only for the good gifts God gives us but for everything in our life, including trials and sufferings. We learn that even in grief and pain we can be grateful since we still have the greatest gift we could ever want: God himself. This type of gratitude helps us to deepen our trust in the goodness of God and helps us to be humble in whatever circumstance we may be called upon to endure.

How to Grow in Gratitude

How then do we grow in gratitude? Here are three practices to help develop this God-given ability to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess. 5:18):

1. Count your blessings

Honing our skill of thanksgiving requires that we expand our capacity to pay attention. As pastor M. Craig Barnes writes in The Pastor as Minor Poet,

I doubt that there is such a thing as a measure of spirituality, but if there is, gratitude would be it. Only the grateful are paying attention. They are grateful because they pay attention, and they pay attention because they are so grateful.

Make a list every week of five to ten blessings you’ve noticed in your life, numbering each item and only listing them only once. Review your list and say a prayer of thanksgiving for each item.

2. Say grace

Throughout history, Christians have made a habit of “saying grace,” a short prayer recited before a meal to give thanks for our food. While we should continue that discipline (or take it up anew) we should expand the range of when we “say grace.” To quote Chesterton again,

You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing, and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.

Develop a habit of stopping and saying grace before your daily activities.

3. Say thanks for your neighbor

Make a habit of contacting someone each week—in person, by phone, or through email or social media—and let them know that you are grateful they are in your life.

Gratitude is fuel for the soul. Without a regular infusion of gratitude we become self-involved, believing that we are the ones responsible for all that we have in our lives. Only by developing the discipline of gratitude can we ensure that we are cognizant of God’s goodness and reliant on him for our daily existence.

10 Principles of Church Planting and Expanding

10 Principles of Church Planting and Expanding

by: Brian Houston

It was in 1999 when Bobbie and I were given the opportunity to do something – which for us at that time was a bold and innovative step. We were asked to take on the leadership of my parents’ inner-city church in ADDITION to the church we were already pastoring in the Northwest of Sydney –Hillsong Church.

Bold and innovative because although today in 2013 there are countless models of incredible multi-site churches, back in 1999 it was totally new territory in which we knew of few, if any, role models to look to for guidance.

Fourteen years on, our City Campus is a thriving and integral part of Hillsong Church and along the way we have learned a great deal about multi-site expansion and global church planting; as Hillsong has spread to some of the worlds most influential cities. I am not called to plant churches everywhere, but where we do, my hope and prayer is that we can build significant churches whose impact for the Cause of Christ spreads far beyond their own walls. When we started Hillsong London many years ago, impact and influence seemed like a far away fantasy –and yet that is exactly what has and is unfolding through a healthy local church congregation in that city.

I’m no expert, but I have been asked many times what are some of the keys to successful expansion, and so here are ten principles for church planting that I have learned on our own journey:


Church planting is a GRACE and if you stay “within the sphere of the grace God has given you,” His favor and blessing will be on your endeavors. Not every opportunity is a GOD opportunity and I find that people struggle when they don’t recognize this. It is important to stay in your lane and run your own race.


Church planting is PIONEERING and that means you have to recognize the old adage that “you can’t run be before you can walk”. The first time I was at one of our ‘Heart and Soul’ nights at Hillsong New York City, the worship team had a mid-song train crash. Perhaps I made them nervous, as apparently it had never happened before, but we had to start the song all over again. That is just one of the examples from some of the great memories that just two years on, we can all look back on and laugh about. Since then, the worship team in New York City has taken giant strides forward and even in those early days the services were electric. But just like when your baby starts to walk, those ‘crashes’ are the precious memories in pioneering that we should always cherish, learn from and laugh about.

Even when Hillsong churches have started with great crowds (such as in Cape Town and New York City), it has taken time for leadership to emerge – to find out who really is ‘in it for the long haul’ and for the crowd to become a family who carry the heart and vision of our church.


Church planting must be INTEGROUS and though we might all have varying ethics and values, it is important to be true to God, true to ourselves and considerate of others in our approach to church planting. It really is a case of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

For example, when expanding Hillsong Church Australia into Brisbane and Melbourne, we have been very deliberate in our early communications and gatherings, to encourage those from other congregations to stay in their own local church. We gave people opportunity to register their interest in being part of our church online and we have limited our communications to that group of people. The foundations on which we start our churches are critical if we intend to establish healthy and life-giving campuses long-term.


Church planting is CHALLENGING, in fact sometimes starting something new is the easy part. Building and progress depends on momentum. Planting or expanding is an exciting idea, but don’t underestimate the challenge of planting well AND keeping home strong. The extra pressure on your greatest resource can be underestimated and your greatest resource is not facilities or finances – it’s PEOPLE.

Starting another service, opening another campus, or planting another church will test the quantity and quality of your leadership in most areas of church life. Don’t weaken your home base by expanding too quickly. Because weakening your base is not a momentum builder – it’s a momentum stopper. Lost momentum is very difficult to regain and wise church planting is not done prematurely.


Church planting is COSTLY and can be very difficult if you are unable to invest sacrificially into the work you are starting. Faith is essential in any new venture and there is no doubt that dependence on God and His miraculous supply is part of the adventure. However, many years of pain and heartache can be avoided if you have counted the cost and sacrificially invested into the new ground you are claiming.


Church planting involves LEADERSHIP and it will be more successful when you sow some of your best people. If you are solving a problem by repositioning someone who is causing frustration, you are only transferring the problem. It is when you give your best that you can expect the best outcome – which is again why planting or expanding should be done from a position of strength and not vulnerability.


Church planting is STRATEGIC and for Hillsong that has rarely meant going to the ‘easy’ places. We have prospered by planting in Europe – a continent steeped in church history yet in many respects, so Godless.

When I first spoke at Hillsong Paris, I remembered numbers of conversations where people simply couldn’t get their heads around us preaching about Jesus as someone other than just a historical figure. Today, I love seeing so many young churches beginning to flourish in various European cities. Its easy to think that perhaps ‘Bible belt cities’ would be easier than the heart of Manhattan; but with the right people, in the right place, at the right time, it’s amazing what God can do!

Likewise, when my parents started their ministry in the city of Sydney, it was regarded by some people as a ‘preachers graveyard.’ But that ‘preachers graveyard’ has become home to Hillsong Church – Hillsong College -Conferences and Music; influencing more people than we could have ever have imagined over the last three decades. God is faithful and I believe that the best is still yet to come!


Church planting is TEAMWORK, which means building a leadership team who are there for the long haul. My experience is that often the people who promise the most, don’t always come through with the most. Great churches are built with people who are faithful in the little things. I’d take a group of ordinary people devoted to an extraordinary God, over a charismatic someone that talks a big game, but hasn’t proven faithful in the ‘day of small beginnings’.

We have had some amazing miracles with land and buildings in our history, but we have also said no to numbers of opportunities and partnerships because there were ‘strings attached’. If it looks too good to be true, it probably…………………..!”


Church planting is LONELY, and many a church planter has perished through isolation.

Proverbs 18:1 says, “The man who isolates himself is not wise” and if you disregard your friendships and relationships when planting churches, your world can get small very quickly. Perhaps you can start churches anywhere, but wisdom is sensitive to relationships – while still refusing to be ruled by the insecurities of others.

Our mandate is “to champion the cause of local churches everywhere”, and the greatest way we can do that is exemplifying what God can do, by partnering and being in good relationship with other churches in our city, and without building on other people’s foundations.


Church planting is TRENDY and in the twenty first century, technology and opportunity enable us to expand in ways that were unthinkable to generations past. Does the world need more churches? The short answer is yes, but the world doesn’t need more mediocre churches. The world needs healthy and vibrant churches that are genuinely fulfilling the Great Commission in their cities, towns, villages and nations. Churches that are filled with life, worship, biblical teaching and healthy, accepting community – churches that point people to JESUS.

I pray that together, we can ‘champion the cause of local churches everywhere,’ and stay committed to the building of what Jesus Christ said He would build – His Church!


What Makes a Great Campus Pastor

What Makes a Great Campus Pastor?

Guest Post by Jim Tomberlin

Originally Posted: http://leadnet.org/what-makes-a-great-campus-pastor/

Ask any multisite church leader today what the most important component is in multisiting and the overwhelming answer is the campus pastor. 

When I went to Willow Creek in the year 2000 to pioneer the multisite strategy I was the startup campus pastor for the first site, second site, third and fourth sites while leading the whole multisite effort. Why? No one wanted to leave the mothership for a role that had never been done for a strategy that had never been tried. Today Willow Creek gathers in seven locations across greater Chicago with much better campus pastors!

We have come a long way from the early days of the multisite movement when no one knew what a campus was, or if they did, wasn’t interested in being one. Once seen as just an emcee for a video service, the campus pastor role has become one of the most strategic and sought-after staff positions in the Church.

At the end of the day successful multisiting is not about sermon delivery (video vs in-person teaching), location, facility, technology or funding. All of these are important components in multisiting, but the critical success factor is the campus pastor. Why? Everything rises or falls on leadership. Did I mention that the campus pastor role is the most important factor in the success of a multisite campus?

What Does a Campus Pastor Do?

The answer to that question will depend upon the church’s purpose for multisiting, but the basic premise of a multisite church is to consistently reproduce the ministry best practices and DNA of the sending church. Therefore the primary responsibility of a campus pastor is to ensure that transfer—to be one church in multiple locations. This involves leading local site staff and volunteer teams to extend the reach and impact of the sending church.

What Are the Characteristics of an Effective Campus Pastor?

Having assisted many multisite churches across the nation, here are the characteristics I see in effective campus pastors. Assuming that this individual is a spiritually mature person of character with a proven track record, an ideal campus or site pastor is the face with the place who is a:

  1. High capacity leader: a high energy,catalytic, self-starter who not only gets things done, but makes things happen!
  2. Team player: someone who people will follow, but who can also follow the senior leadership of the church. Not a lone ranger maverick, but someone who is able to work on a team and within the church structure.
  3. People magnet: a relational “animal” that draws people like flies to honey. They love people and people love being around them. They have a high “fun factor.”
  4. Mobilizer: this person not only attracts followers but can turn them into volunteers, volunteer teams and volunteer leaders. The key to success in any pastoral position!
  5. Multi-tasker: shows high capacity to juggle a lot of balls simultaneously and loves the juggling act.
  6. Communicator: doesn’t have to be a bible teacher unless on the teaching team, but is capable and articulate speaking to a room full of people.
  7. DNA Carrier:  bleeds and defaults to the mission, vision, values, and senior leadership of the church.

The two traits that repeatedly come to the top in all of our surveys about campus pastors is that this person needs to be a high capacity leader who possesses the DNA of the church.

What Are the Challenges of Campus Pastoring?

Multisite works best with empowered and centrally-supported campus pastors who are committed to and united around the mission and central leadership of the sending church.

The typical challenges to navigate revolve around the preaching strategy, mission-alignment and reporting structure.

Most multisite churches utilize a matrix-style organizational strategy that involves a solid-line (authority) and dotted-line (influence) reporting structure between the campuses. Lack of mission and organizational clarity or buy-in handicaps and frustrates multisite church leaders and their campus pastors.

The third multisite campus is typically a game-changer because it usually requires a multisite director on the senior leadership team to manage the tensions between the central team and the multiple campuses. It’s at this stage that a campus pastor is needed for the original campus so the senior pastor can focus on leading all the campuses through the campus pastors.

Where Do You Find Campus Pastors?

The first place to look is internally.  Leadership Network reports that 87% of all campus pastors are internal hires.

Who is on your staff right now with your church’s DNA? Someone who has proven themselves and is ready for a new challenge?  Who is the best person on your team?  Lead out with that person.

If not on the staff, who is in your congregation that could transition into this role?  There are many high-capacity marketplace individuals sitting in your church who have the leadership capacity and your church DNA looking for a place to have a significant kingdom play.

The next best place to look is within the network of your own staff team.  Who do they know around the country who could be good campus pastor candidate for your church? Bring them on the team and incubate them.  Take a year to train and acclimate them at home base before launching them into their own campus.

Lastly, you can contact the various staff search companies like The Vanderbloemen Search Group, The Slingshot Group and Agora or place ads online at Church Staffing, Minister Search and denominational websites.

What’s a makes a great campus pastor? Here’s how one church leader described the campus pastors in their church, “Our campus pastors have an unwavering loyalty to the lead pastorbelieve in the mission of our church, connect with their congregation and develop leaders.”  May their tribe increase!

Why the Church can Rescue us from our Smartphones

By Russell Moore

Originally Published: September 21, 2016 (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/09/21/jesus-doesnt-care-how-many-twitter-followers-you-have/)

Andrew Sullivan confesses that he “used to be a human being.” In a provocative essay in New York magazine, Sullivan writes about the ways smartphone technology and its constant connectedness have disconnected us from our sense of our humanity and from one another.

I was most intrigued by Sullivan’s proposals for the church to be a haven in a digitally exhausted world.

“If the churches came to understand that the greatest threat to faith today is not hedonism but distraction, perhaps they might begin to appeal anew to a frazzled digital generation,” Sullivan writes. “’Christian leaders seem to think that they need more distraction to counter the distraction. Their services have degenerated into emotional spasm, their spaces drowned with light and noise and locked shut throughout the day, when their darkness and silence might actually draw those whose minds and souls have grown web-weary.”

He is exactly right.

Sullivan, a Roman Catholic, calls for the rediscovery of the monastic traditions, of contemplative prayer in the Catholic tradition. But I think the problem he identifies must be addressed more broadly within the Christian ecosystem, including within the sectors of evangelical Protestantism.

The digital revolution has made visible a spiritual problem that has rocked our churches for a very long time — the idea that identity is found in frenzied activity.

Years ago, one would sometimes see a sign advertising a church — usually an evangelical or Protestant congregation — with the words, “The Church Alive Is Worth the Drive.” Apart from the commodification of the worship of God implied in such advertising, there’s an even deeper problem: the definition of what it means to be “alive.” In most contexts, the “alive” church is one with bustling ministries, a cornucopia of activities, and a worship service choreographed so that there is no “dead space” — no silence — between singing and talking, talking and singing.

The church justifies its existence, in this way, by the bustle of its business, the obviousness of its “aliveness.”

Perhaps this is one reason why — one after the other — young pastors in the fastest-growing segments of evangelical Christianity seem to be falling apart at midlife. Pastors and leaders who soared through their twenties and thirties are hitting their forties, and spiraling often into burnout, depression and even the self-sabotage of addiction. Some of this, of course, is the sort of human weakness that is always with us. But some of it, no doubt, is the sort of entrepreneurial vision of Christian ministry that causes leaders to “justify” their existence by ceaseless activity.

We have learned to find our identity in our velocity. And that’s not just physically dangerous, but spiritually devastating.

This peril exists now not only for Christian leaders, but for everyone, religious or not. Even for those who are not workaholics, the smartphone gives us an illusion of always being “active.” We don’t just eat; we must post pictures of our meals to Instagram. We don’t just have to care about where our children are; we must respond to some thread on Facebook.

We don’t just have people who are grumpy in line at the supermarket; we have to respond to anonymous critics — or even cyber-bullies — on social media. And we are always just a text message away from the words “I just want to give you a heads-up” upending an entire day or night — no matter if it’s a Sabbath or a vacation or a family dinner.

This can be exhausting.

Churches cannot undo technology, or the cultural moves behind it. Churches can, though, reclaim the distinctiveness as the institution that sees the human being as a creature, not a machine.

Churches can teach that our identity is found in Christ, and Jesus doesn’t care how many Twitter followers we have.

Our churches can rekindle times of silent prayer, of guided confession of sin, of quiet before God. That is not merely for the most liturgically structured “high church” communions. If “low church” evangelicals would merely restart the practice of inviting people to kneel together in the church sanctuary, to quietly pray together, that would be a start.

In our wired world, times of silence and inactivity will feel “awkward.” Such times will disorient us, just as we find ourselves nervous when on a long plane ride with no Internet connection. We will wonder what we’re missing out on. But that’s just the point. Churches should be places to remind us that what we’re in danger of missing isn’t really communicated by devices.

Churches can see what our smartphones are doing to us, and say to an exhausted world what Jesus once told us: “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” That’s a good word for a web-weary world.

Why Plant Churches

by Dr. Timothy Killer

A vigorous and continuous approach to church planting is the only way to guarantee an increase in the number of believers, and is one of the best ways to renew the whole body of Christ. 

The vigorous, continual planting of new congregations is the single most crucial strategy for (1) the numerical growth of the body of Christ in a city and (2) the continual corporate renewal and revival of the existing churches in a city. Nothing else—not crusades, outreach programs, parachurch ministries, growing megachurches, congregational consulting, nor church renewal processes—will have the con- sistent impact of dynamic, extensive church planting. This is an eyebrow-raising statement, but to those who have done any study at all, it is not even controversial.

The normal response to discussions about church planting is something like this.
A. “We already have plenty of churches that have lots and lots of room for all the new people who have

come to the area. Let’s get them lled before we start building any new ones.”

B.“Every church in this community used to be more full than it is now. The churchgoing public is a shrinking pie. A new church here will just take people from churches that are already hurting and will weaken everyone.”

C.“Help the churches that are struggling rst. A new church doesn’t help the existing ones that are just keeping their noses above water. We need better churches, not more churches.”

These statements appear to be common sense to many people, but they rest on several wrong as- sumptions. The error of this thinking will become clear if we ask, “Why is church planting so crucially important?”

Read more here

Art of Neighboring

Check out this video the Art of Neighbouring it would be a great resource for your church, small group or sermon analogy, or personal growth relating to what it TRULY means to be a neighbour!