Church planting never goes quite like you think it’s going to. Some things will go better than you’ve imagined. Other things will be harder. A few planters will have to decide whether to push back church launch.
What I mean by pushing back launch is punting until the next launch season, like from fall to spring or vice versa. Pushing back a few weeks generally has a much lesser impact.
Pushing back launch can risk finances and momentum.
What’s at Stake
Ministry isn’t about money, but it takes money (even in Jesus’ day). One of the assumptions of the Launch Large or High-Impact launch approach is that local offerings don’t start until the launch of regular worship gatherings. If that is your reality, then pushing back your launch delays the start of a significant source of income.
Have you raised enough money to cover 4 to 6 months’ extra expenses? You probably wouldn’t be renting a facility during that time, one of a church plant’s 2 biggest expenses. But six months of paying for everything else is a financial hit not every pre-launch church plant can absorb.
But that’s based on an assumption. If the team you do have already gives generously, the financial blow is softened. One planter I supported had giving from his Launch Team that exceeded their monthly expenses (while there wasn’t a rent payment). When he punted 4 months or so, his financial situation didn’t worsen. How willing are you to talk about generosity with your team?
Sometimes planters have to struggle with whether to push back church launch because early fundraising efforts didn’t go well, or they didn’t take advantage of the extra time they had before there was a Launch Team. So some planters push back launch to buy time to re/hit the fundraising trail.
One thing you’ll have to consider, especially with high-capacity donors, is how to explain the delayed launch. There’s a way to explain it that positions it as strategic or necessary. And there’s a way that may cause donors to hesitate.
The most common situation I’ve seen that makes planters wrestle with whether to push back church launch is the size of the gathering Launch Team. Kicking off weekly worship gatherings with fewer than 40 adults committed to getting the new church off the ground is like having a preemie baby. Many survive low birth weight, but no parent hopes for that kind of start to life.
So some planters push back the launch to buy time to build a bigger team. There’s a way to break that news to your existing team that creates excitement and rallies the troops. And there’s a way to do it that’s more like popping a balloon. Managing the relational momentum of the team is everything, really.
One thing you’ll need to consider is what a delay in the timetable does to the availability and/or cost of your worship gathering facility. I’ve you’ve already signed a rental agreement, you may have to start paying on it regardless.
And BTW, if you’re building out a 24/7 leased facility, you’re going to have to push back your launch by several weeks. Count on it. Construction never comes in on time or under budget. But again, that’s not the kind of push we’re talking about here. Just a heads up.
The hard reality is that by the time a planter is deciding to push back church launch, there are already so many plates spinning that it’s incredibly difficult to find extra bandwidth to double down on whatever it is that’s forcing the decision. It would be tragic to push back launch by 4 to 6 months to build a bigger team and end up with basically the same size of team you would’ve had if you didn’t push.
There are lots of factors to consider when you have to decide whether or not to push back church launch. If you’re having to make that decision, my heart goes out to you. Pray. Seek wisdom from your Management Team and Coach. And follow the Spirit’s lead.