Category Archives: church planting

Church Planting 101: Recruiting a Team

Jesus makes recruiting a team look so easy, doesn’t he?  “Hey rugged fishermen over there!  Drop what you’re doing and come follow me,” he shouts.  And the amazing thing is that they follow.  For most planters I talk to, they seem to have difficulty recreating the same results.  The fact of the matter is that oftentimes recruiting a team, whether it be searching for initial staff members or courting prospective launch team members, can be extremely challenging.  But does it have to be, is the real question?

Before we look a bit closer at Christ’s recruitment model, let’s first identify the hindrances that seem to prevent greater recruitment success.  Church planters – here are the top 5 excuses we use when struggling to recruit the all-star team that we so desperately desire and need.

Top 5 Favorite Church Planter Excuses for Failing to Recruit Others (or the right people).

1.)     “I don’t know anybody.” – This is initially understandable since in many situations church planters relocate to launch their plant and obviously it takes time to meet new people.  With that being said, if you plan on pastoring a successful church – you’re going to have to meet new people – and a LOT of ‘em!  Focus on “watering holes”, you know like on those animal documentaries on the Discovery channel where all the animals come to together and intermingle around the pool of water.  What are the watering holes in your community?  If you live in suburban America, I’d suggest starting with the local Starbucks, Guitar Center, gym or YMCA, or a large bookstore like Barnes and Noble.  But remember, proximity to people probably isn’t enough…you’re going to have to actually say, “Hi”.

2.)    “I lack the finances to be able to hire the right team.” – Man, could I ever tell you about this one.  I hid behind statements like this for years.  Now I’ve realized, when it comes to recruiting the right people, money is nearly irrelevant.  If you believe in your vision, then so will others.  If you don’t, people will recognize that, and they’ll hesitate getting behind you.  We planted our church about 7 years ago and we continue to run with an extremely high percentage of volunteers on our team.  They aren’t doing it out of obligation or for the money, but because they love Jesus and they want to see the mission of our church accomplished.  Some church planters I meet are afraid to ask people to serve or come on staff without pay – let me remind you that unless you’re part of a large planting organization, my guess is that you have or are currently working and serving the ministry with little to no pay.  What made you do it?  Why do you think others won’t?

3.)    “No one I try to recruit is better at the task that I am, so it’s just easier to do it myself.”   Whoa there Lone Ranger!  This kind of attitude is certain to solidify the fact that your ministry will never be bigger than yourself.  I remind my teams and planters regularly, “The person who thinks that in order to get something done right you have to do it yourself, usually has to.”  In the beginning, this might be true, but long-term thinking dictates that we become master delegators.  When someone takes over a new task, understand that quality could decrease, but with the right leadership and training, you should expect this person to outperform you in the near future.  Delegating is a scary thing, but arrogance and shortsightedness are far worst.

4.)    “I don’t have the time to train people.”  A close cousin of #3, this excuse underestimates the value of duplication.  If Jesus did anything, he duplicated.  He went from 1, to 3, to 12, to 72, to 120, to 3,000, to the world.  In fact, the majority of what we read about Jesus doing in scripture was focused on training his disciples.  The reality is that you don’t have the time to NOT train people.  The best way to do this is to build regular training sessions throughout the month.  Do you have a weekly staff meeting?  Consider making the first 15 minutes a brief staff training or perhaps working in a longer training time into your next staff retreat.

5.)     “I’ve tried recruiting people, but no one wants to help.”  Asking someone to help or get involved is different than recruitment.  Asking someone to help all too often comes across as desperate and needy.  Recruitment is based not on need, but vision.  A good recruiter seeks to understand the person in front of them, discover their passions, creatively find meaningful opportunities for their involvement, and most importantly shows the value of the position or ministry.  Bottom line, the church is about building people and not people building the church.  Master this, and you’ll never lack people to help.

Understanding Jesus’ Approach to Team Buiding

In Luke 5:1-11, we read about Jesus calling his first disciples.  As the story goes, Jesus began teaching by the shore, and as the people began to crowd him, he eventually asked Simon to allow him to preach from his boat so more could see and hear him.  After he had finished teaching, Jesus blessed the fisherman by directing them to let down their nets for a catch.  They did so and as the scripture tells us they caught so many fish that they had to signal their partners to come help them bring in the fish and even then, both boats were “so full that they began to sink.”  At this, the fisherman was amazed and fell before Jesus.  He then said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.”  And the men left everything and followed him.

Here are the principles I see Jesus utilize.

1.)    Start Small – Jesus didn’t show up and just tell them to leave everything and follow him.  He first simply asked if he could use their boats as a stage.  Obviously, if they would have said no, this would have told Jesus something about them, but they didn’t so he continued pursuing them.  So what does this look like practically?  For me, most of the time I purposely don’t wear a watch, just so I have an excuse to talk to someone sitting next to me to inquire the time.  It might not seem like much, but I’ve had some pretty incredible conversations come from the simple request, “Could you tell me the time?”  Is one of your neighbors on your heart, ask to borrow one of their tools (and then make sure and return it.)  Is this person already part of your ministry, ask to serve for an hour without asking for any commitment beyond that.  How did they do?  Did they show up on time?  Did they serve with joy?  Did they complete the task with excellence?  The answers to these questions should tell you something and direct you with how to proceed.

2.)    Equip Them – Before Jesus ever asked for a commitment from his soon to be disciples, he first taught them the Word.  For me, in our ministry, we place a very high priority on understanding the gospel through the Word of God, so it’s important that before I ask for huge commitments that I know that the people I’m asking have been impacted by the Word in their life – that they have experienced grace first hand.  If prospective team members seem unaffected by the Word – I’d suggest looking for someone else.  When first meeting someone, it might not always be realistic to squeeze in an hour message, but you don’t have to.  I like to hand out books and teaching CD’s.  Do the people respond?  Do they ask questions?  Were they impacted?

3.)    Seek to Fulfill Their Dreams – Again, before Jesus ever asked for a commitment, he first filled their boat with more fish than they could count.  He showed that he wasn’t just interested in using them to fulfill his dreams, but that he was interested in fulfilling their dreams.  In his book, Leadership That Builds People, Dr. James B. Richards says this about the typical model of recruitment, “What is the first thing we say when someone comes into our church?  “Come on; catch the vision; become a part of it.”  That denies servanthood.  Our introductory statement says, “Give up your dreams; give up what you want to do and help me do what I want to do.”  Jesus model wasn’t about service, but wholeness.  A true leader says, “Come follow me and I’ll see that your dreams are fulfilled along the way.”  Get to know your people – what do they really want in life?  What are their goals?  How can these goals intersection with your ministry?  How can you use your organization to further their dreams?

In conclusion, my biggest encouragement regarding recruiting would be to envision yourself in a world of more than enough; more than enough people, more than enough resources.  When it comes down to it, essentially all of the excuses above come from a perspective of lack – from a place of questioning God’s provision and call for me.  Be encouraged.  God wants your church to succeed.  In fact, I would venture to say that (assuming you are preaching the gospel) that he wants your church to succeed even more than you do, because ultimately and in actuality – it’s His church.  So go out there and build that team.  You got this, not because you’re an awesome church planter (though I’m certain that you are), but because you have an awesome God.

For more information about planting a church or for other ministry resources, please visit www.oasnet.org

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Calling All Church Planters!

Thinking about planting a church?  Then you NEED to check out www.oasnet.org .  The Oasis Network For Churches is looking for qualified church planters and pastors who are passionate about the Gospel of Grace and the finished work of Christ.  Currently, the Oasis Network is working with pastors and church planters in the US (Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois), East Africa, Sweden, St. Lucia, Mexico, Malaysia, and many more places to come.  For more information, visit our website www.oasnet.org or call us today, 574-247-9800.  We are looking for YOU!

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Staff Envy

As a church planter, I  spent several of our first years planting very jealous, but perhaps not about what one might think.  I think most would assume that pastors would be jealous about attendance or perhaps money or buildings or something, but not me.  I was jealous of other churches’ staffs.  There I was, with a home office or sitting at Bella Vita Coffee (God rest her soul 🙂 ) all by myself trying to do the job of 4-10 people.  Granted, I live for stuff like this, but there were plenty of days when it was really hardwork and it would have been nice to have a couple other people around to help.  As I looked at other churches and pastors, they had people.  You know “peope”.  They would say things like, “no problem, I’ll have one of my people take care of this” and  things like that.  I had no people; heck, I didn’t even have a copy machine to talk to.  In thinking back, it wasn’t so much that my lack of partners in crime caused me to be lonely, afterall, Krissy was very much around and always engaged in the ministry with me (and let’s be honest, she can do the work of 5 others), but I really wanted a team.  I wanted to strategize, plan, promote, engage, attack, foster, and one just can’t imagine how difficult that is to do over a decaf latte all by yourself.  I mean, I know, I’ve tried it. 

Now, 5 years later, I have a team, but not just a team, but a SUPER TEAM!  It’s like the Justice League, but for Jesus.  To be honest, it’s hard to recall sometimes how they all got here, in fact, for many of them it seems like they’ve been here the whole time.  But somewhere along the way, God started bringing some amazing people along side of us.

I first met John Eicher Jr. while enjoying a  Sunday lunch at Houlihans with my wife and parents.  I love talking with servers and John equally loved talking with his tables.  Sometime after the appetizer, I discovered that John was a bible college graduate and had just returned from a 2 year mission in Hondorus.  Next thing I knew, we were at the driving range at Bobicks, and later traveling to Kenya together to minister in the urban slums.  From day one, John just fit.  He still does.  He is a man of wisdom, humility, and tremendous giftings.

Many might not know this, but I first met Jaime Hilton, who oversees our  worship ministry, at a job interview.  Krissy and I, for a short season, owned a Sylvan Learning Center in Niles, MI, and Jaime applied for a marketing position there.  It’s better to hear her side of the story, but essentially, she came in for an interview, we talked about the church most of the time, and I didn’t give her the job at Sylvan, which I really felt horrible about.  And which is why I was mortified when she showed up one Sunday AM at Oasis.  (This was back when we were meeting  at the bar.)  I was so embarrassed.  I thought, “man, this girl is persistent….didn’t I tell you that you didn’t get the job.”  After that her first Sunday at Oasis, I didn’t see her for awhile (which I couldn’t blame her, I wouldn’t want to go to the church of someone who didn’t give me a job either), but later ran into her several times at Bella Vita Coffee (I was there trying to strategize all by myself).  We would always exchange small talk, and inevitably, just like her interview, I would always talk to her about Oasis.  That was years ago.  Now she is overseeing our worship ministry and is writing some of my favorite worship songs. 

Ryan Knox was one of my youth group students at Oasis Wauseon.  He was one of those freakish kids that knew God’s call on his life at a really young age.  His freshman year of high school, he came to Krissy and I and told us that he intended to join us in Granger and help with the church plant.  I was like, “oh, that’s nice” in much the same way you pat an 8 yr old boy on the back after he tells you “when I grow up I want to be an astronaut.”  I just didn’t know he really meant  it.  Now Ryan, and his lovely wife Brittany, oversee our youth ministy and Ryan also oversees much of our building maintenance and construction. 

Lindsey “Sey” Blackford and I first met several years ago through a mutual friend.  After a series of events, Lindsey wandered into Oasis (she was serving on a church staff that had essentially dissolved).  She quickly assimilated into the people and culture of Oasis and with her came her amazingly large family.  (Lindsey has 6 other siblings)  Since then, Lindsey has proven herself to be an invaluable part of the team.  She spends much of her time behind the scenes, but Lindsey is responsible for much of the administration of our staff, major church events, and she also is part of our children’s ministry leadership team.  Beyond that, her family is dynamite…they’ve really made their mark here at Oasis, especially on our worship team (Thanks Chris and Michael).  (Mark and Sandy, you both are champions and have raised a great family.) 

Justin Prawat, who landed here just shortly after Lindsey arrived, continues to impress me.  I got into a pinch awhile back and needed someone to lead worship.  Lindsey suggested this guy she knew, named Justin, aka Superbomb.  Little did I know, that at that time, Justin had never lead worship by himself on a Sunday before – anywhere.  But he must have done a decent job that first Sunday, because now he is on the stage almost every week.  Beyond that, Justin’s day job is to be my assistant, at which he really excels.  Justin puts  up with my crazy schedule and always seems to find something funny to say while doing it.  He has become a good friend.

Though she technically works for OasNet, it probably would only be right to also mention, Becky Gritton.  Becky and I have been friends since youth and was one of the first people to come alongside Krissy and I when planting the church.  She has a tremendous heart for missions and coordinates relationship with many of our international pastors.  Becky, Krissy and I are both thankful to have you here at Oasis and in our lives. 

Last but not least, my wife, Krissy.  I already mentioned that she is essentially a work force on her own, but she is so much more than that.  Other than Christ, I’ve confident that I wouldn’t have made it this far without her.  She has spent countless hours listening to me ramble, complain, dream, and always seems to find some way of challenging me and encouraging me in the process.  She stood by me when no one else would and continues to be my number one cheerleader and friend.  (I love you babe.)

So that’s my team and ironically, I don’t have lattees all that often any more.  Thankfully, now, God has surrounded me with a group of sincere, hardworking, creative, and wonderful people to help carry the vision and see it through to completion.  There is nothing I wouldn’t do for all of you.  My sincerest thanks.

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White Castle Run: Chicken Rings and Fish Nibblers.

That’s right, we did it.  Last night, on the way back from our Oasis Indianapolis church plant meeting, Krissy, Becky Gritton, Andrea Walters, John Eicher Jr (aka Houlihan John), and myself made a spontanteous stop at White Castle in Kokomo.  While driving by the restuarant Becky, John, and Andrea all commented that they had never eaten there before.  “What!?”, was Krissy and I’s response.  We had to stop.  They need a slider.  And sliders they got.  John thought they were okay, Andrea hated them and I think was afraid that she was going to catch a contagious disease just from being in the restuarant, and Becky was too busy laughing at everyone else to comment on what she thought.  Krissy and I, older and much wiser, refrained from ordering a slider and got chicken rings and fish nibblers, which other than the almost instanteous stomach ache that they brought on, weren’t half bad. 

At any rate, we had a wonderful meeting in Indianapolis and the group there is really taking off.  It’s exciting to see.   To read more about the Indy church plant, check out this link. 

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OasNet: 40 at $40

OasNet wants you!  We are in the process of finishing up the OasNet partnership materials, complete with the promotional video (www.oasnet.net).  These packets should be out still in early 2008.  The first phase is to find 40 additional people to partner at $40 per month with the Oasis Network For Churches.  OasNet, as it’s called, exists to resource and equip local church planters and pastors with teaching, resources, and materials to help them carry out their call to reach the world with the GOOD NEWS of Jesus Christ.  Additionally, OasNet is a network of churches who believe that they can accomplish more together than separate.  Currently Oasis is already impacting pastors and churches in 3 continents and over 7 countries with the message of God’s love and grace. If you are currently part of an Oasis church or have been blessed by the ministries on this site or some of our affliates…I would ask you to consider partnering with us.  You can give any amount to OasNet, but we are specifically seeking out 40 people at $40 per month.  If you are willing to be one of the 40, please email me at Lucas@oasiscf.com or leave me a comment on this post.  Thanks in advance for your consideration and help!  GOOD NEWS to the WORLD, that’s our goal.

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Oprah, Church Planting, and Donations

So I’ll be man enough to admit it…on occasion, I watch Oprah.  Please note, the majority of the time it’s with my wife, but yeah I watch it.  But it doesn’t make me cry, it makes me mad.  Not mad at Oprah, but mad that I’m not doing this stuff, and instead, I’m at home watching TV about somebody else doing “the stuff”.  Let me explain what I mean.  Tonight for instance, we watched an episode about people fulfilling their dreams and callings (something I’m hugely passionate about).  There was a lady collecting pajamas for orphans and a guy collecting children’s books for 3rd world countries.  The guy had collected millions of books, and just in the one episode of Oprah the studio audience brought in 32,000 sets of kids pjs!  Crazy, in one show.  Now I think that’s awesome, but moreover I want to see the church responding in this way.  For me, it’s church planting.  I believe my calling is to help plant a grace filled church in every country in the world.  That’s like 194 countries…just to buy the plane ticket alone (for a single trip at $800 each) that’s $155,200.  That’s a ton of money.  And that’s not counting the translation of resources and bibles, the church buildings constructed, lodging, food for the poor, water, the list goes on and on.  But this needs to happen.  There are so many in the world that have never heard that God isn’t mad, and that He deeply loves them.  People everywhere (even in the US) are trapped in fear, condemnation, and guilt.  They need the Gospel to set them free.  I know how to plant a church, I know how to organize a trip to another country, and I even know how to navigate the globe (at least a good portion of it).  What I don’t know yet, is how to mobilize people like Oprah and get them to respond to a need with such overwhelming response.  I mean 1 lady alone brought in 10,000 sets of pajamas…and she didn’t buy any of them, she went around and asked for donations from businesses.  So help me out…I’m asking for input, ideas, help…how can we at Oasis communicate the need for church planting in such a way, and give people tangible ways in which to help, to cause such overwhelming help?  Seriously…leave me some thoughts on this one.  Let’s get some conversation going…!

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