I'm trying to work through some of the emails I have filed for future answer... here's one from a church planter:
"Hi, I belong to the pastor's wives website and a fellow pw introduced me to an article you wrote on "why shouldn't you plant a church?" I just wanted to let you know what an encouragement it was to read your article and I pray you are blessed. We, too, are church planting. The Lord called us to it or we never would have undertaken it. I had no idea how difficult it was going to be....from the financial end to the shepherding end. My husband and I are discouraged and we're trying to keep on going. I think I am more discouraged than he is. It is so much more than what we thought would be involved. We had been involved in various positions in leadership before this. (from co-pastoring with another couple to associate pastoring........and I was also director for women's ministry in 2 previous churches.) Do you have any tips on church planting at all? We opened our small church plant on Dec. 18th and it is still small. I don't expect a huge group, but even 15-20 would be nice. Any suggestions you have would be appreciated and welcomed. Thank you so much.
A couple of thoughts...
1st- it's awesome that you guys are perservering in this. I know that God is pleased when people step out and do things with the intention that others will be introduced to Jesus. However long your church planting adventure lasts, don't be discouraged- enjoy the ride.
2nd- do it as smart as you can. That might mean falling back to core group phase for a bit and building up to that 20 or so. It's difficult to have a "public" meeting with only ten or so people and have people who might hear about you or be invited feel comfortable in that setting- too much of a spotlight. A core group doesn't have to be 40, 50, 60 or 200 to launch public gatherings, just large enough that anyone who might be walking by could walk in feel welcomed and yet not the very center of attention. Once you have that 20 or so, relaunch a public gathering.
Don't worry about advertising and such, at least at this point. Build through relationship. Mine your contacts for solid people who are ready for an adventure, believe in your vision and are ready to contribute their piece to a shared vision and are at a place where they can make a change and invest. That may sound like a tall order, but I'll bet you know some people like that, and more importantly, those people know some people, etc.
Have a good web presence so that people who are looking for you (even if they don't know it's you they are looking for) can find you.
More to say, but I think the important thing for you guys is (from what little I know from your email) getting that core group together- I think God can bless and grow a church that starts with just a handful, but it would be good to have a team of people with you.
Also, in terms of helping to manage the "so much more than we thought" there's a helpful church planter's timeline @ ChurchPlantingResources.com which might help you lay it out in a more linear and manageable fashion...
And we're trying to build a community of church planters sharing ideas and support @ NextChurchNetwork.org- check it out and maybe share your story on the forums...
What else would you all tell Marie???