It is generally acknowledged that there are 2 best windows for a church plant launch in the US: fall (Sep/Oct) and spring (Feb/Mar). How will you decide?
The windows work kind of like a space shuttle landing – in its day, it couldn’t come down just anywhere. It had to wait for the window to land at one of the 4 sites in the US. If it missed the intended window, it had to recalculate for the next landing site.
If you’re making plans to be a church planter or church-planting church, it would be smart to make an informed decision. There are pros and cons to each. You’ll need to:
Understand Cultural Rhythms
Our 2 church plant launch windows have come about mostly from the rhythms of our lives here in the US.
There are seasons when church participation goes up. I see it as a combination of the school calendar and the holiday calendar. Churches will tell you that they see waves of visitors and re/dedication come at:
- Back to school time (September-ish)
- At and following the holidays (January-ish)
- Easter time (March-ish)
There are also several really busy seasons for us here in the US:
- May (end of school year)
- Summer (outdoor activities and vacations)
- Nov/Dec (holiday travel, end of semester, end of calendar year)
May & December can be absolutely insane for families with kids: schools are cramming in music presentations, award ceremonies, throwing parties and wrapping up sports leagues. Now layer on office parties and church events in December and graduation parties in late May. There’s no way my family could pack in another event in either of those months.
You have to take those bad windows into account because they flank the good windows. That’s important on the front end because to hit critical mass at a good window, you have to build steam during a tough season:
- Recruit & build your team during the summer for a fall church plant launch
- Or try to gain momentum in the craziness of Nov/Dec for a spring launch
But they’re also important to understand because the launch event itself isn’t the goal. Becoming a healthy, thriving community of believers is. So you have to plan for the tough season that follows your launch:
- Shortly following a fall launch, you hit the Nov/Dec holiday window
- Not long after a spring church plant launch, the busyness of May the absenteeism of the summer hits you
These are the larger waves in the US context as a whole. But it’s important to investigate the nuances of your local context.
Are you planting where everyone drives a pickup with a gun rack? You’d better have hunting season on your radar.
As another example, I’ve supported planters in San Francisco where the summers are cold and foggy. The warmest months are usually April and October. As a result, there are countless parades, festivals and celebrations in that city in October, which make it a natural month for a grand opening celebration.
Expect Regional Weather
More than just the cultural rhythms that mirror weather patterns, the threat of inclement weather is a real thing. Imagine having to cancel your inaugural service because of weather! It’s happened.
If you live in states where there is a serious chance of snow or ice storms in Feb/Mar, a fall launch may be a better bet.
But if you’re planting near the Gulf Coast or Eastern Seaboard, Sep/Oct is still hurricane season. And how hot is it still in Arizona in September?
Sync with Organizational Timing
One last thing you may very well need to consider is the plans and expectations of your church planting body. In some cases, they’ve recruited you with an expressed time line in mind. If their timeline doesn’t match what you’re thinking, have an open conversation as soon as that comes to light. Don’t wait.
Get Wise Counsel
Finally, be sure to pray about it and get advice from:
- Your church planting network, tribe or church
- Your Management Team or oversight body
- Your church planting coach
- Other church planters in your immediate context
Make a prayerful & informed choice for your church plant launch so that you don’t get halfway in and be forced to decide whether to postpone or not.