I’ve had the opportunity now to be on both sides of starting a church: church planting and church launching. Though I am only officially 6 weeks in the Jesus Culture Sacramento launch there are some key differences when you compare the two. I came to some of these conclusions from my failed church planting attempts (2 of them), but they have been confirmed during this launching experience.
1. A church that has been launched originated from a launching pad.
Lift off for the space shuttle has everything to do with the thrust of the engines. The total thrust at launch for the space shuttle is about 7.8 million pounds. To achieve orbit, the shuttle must accelerate from zero to a speed of almost 18,000 miles per hour.
Church launches have a sending church that thrusts them full throttle into the harvest field. Sending churches give church launches the velocity and speed it needs to break barriers immediately that a church planter might be up against for years. This velocity and speed can be created by a variety of things yet two essential boosters that ignite a church launch and thrust it forward are a team of people and finances. Church planters often have to raise their own support and find their own people when they are connected to a church that doesn’t have a vision to send and thrust out laborers into the harvest.
2. A church that has been launched can focus on vision and not survival. When a church has been launched well it can focus on the vision and mission that it has been sent to accomplish. I’ve talked to several church launchers over the past 10 years. They are not worried about taking care of their family, where their next pay check is coming from or how much has been given in the weekly offering. They have been freed up to focus on doing what God has called them to do. That doesn’t mean church launchers will not have financial challenges because there are those challenges at every level. Church planters though are often consumed constantly with the critical needs of the now and struggle to see beyond what’s right in front of them never having time to look ahead.
3. A church that has been launched cultivates community from the outside in. I have to admit the church planter stories that start with only 8 people in a living room and experience unprecedented growth and are now at mega church level status are inspiring. I have always wanted that to be my story. However, what I’m currently experiencing in church launching is amazing to see. There is much to be said about the ability to gather a crowd and create and cultivate a thriving community and core team. In a lot of ways it can be more difficult, but at the same time it creates more opportunity for the “outsider” to belong to a family. Church planting often requires a committed core that is often burned out in the first 3-5 years. Because of that many times it is said about church planting teams; that those who start with you wont be around in 5 years. Church launching gives you the ability to enjoy your community and not just employ your community with endless tasks.
I know that everyone’s experience is difference, but these are just a few observations I’ve made over the last 6 weeks. I know that many church planters have great experiences and success stories to share and I would love to hear them.
I looking forward to sharing about my church launching experience with Jesus Culture Sacramento in the future.
Have you ever been a part of a church launch? What was different?