How to Plant a Church Without Killing Yourself (with Matt Hatch)

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1. Phone a Friend

  • Get outside coaching and accountability.
  • Howard Hendricks suggests 80-90% of your leadership development happens on the job.
  • Preparation beforehand is good to a point but you will be mainly processing your experience as you go so a good coach is essential.
  • Ed Stetzer interviewed 600 church planters and found those that met with mentors weekly had churches on average twice the size of those that didn’t.
  • We all need a Barnabas!
  • Seek help. Who do you know who has done church planting and done it well?

2. It’s Usually Worse Than You Think

  • Many church planters have obsessive pioneering personalities.
  • We often underestimate how badly we are really doing because we are so busy doing.
  • Those church planters that burn out connect with their tiredness and fatigue too late.
  • With hindsight they reflect that for a long time they had been flying too low to the ground. But by then it is too late!
  • Church planter – if you are tired and aware of that tiredness, you are probably bone weary; if you are aware that you are weary, you are probably exhausted; if you are aware that you are exhausted, you probably need a break immediately!
  • Follow all the wise advice that most planters ignore! – Get a day off in the week, find friends outside the church, get some fun things into your diary and be honest with how you are doing.
  • Managing your energy is just as important as managing your time.

3. Understand That an Unresolved Past Will Damage Your Future

  • Most of us have issues from the past that work against us if left unresolved – but we don’t talk about this enough.
  • We are new creations in Christ, but we are also works in progress who have bad habits and coping mechanisms.
  • In church planting the pressure squeezes you and drains you of your normal coping mechanisms so what’s inside eventually comes to the surface.
  • If there are unresolved issues, these things will probably come to the surface at some point in the church plant.
  • Hurt people hurt people.
  • Ask some trusted friends what they can see you are carrying from your past that might trip you up in the future.

4. Workmanship Before Works

  • Focus on your identity in Christ.
  • We are God’s sons and daughters before we lift a finger.
  • Being secure in your identity in Christ is essential in church planting.
  • In the early days of the church plant, there is not much to the plant other than you and your family.
  • A secure leader is an incredibly attractive leader.
  • People can generally spot when there is insecurity or a lack of maturity.

5. Build a Home to Build a Church

  • Make it as easy as possible to host people in your home – it will be the hub of the church for quite some time.
  • Even after you launch on Sundays you will have lots of people through your home – it will be a centre of the social life of the church.
  • Can people park easily on your street?
  • If you can afford it have wood/laminate flooring instead of carpet – it is easier to clean and you won’t need to constantly ask people to take their clothes off.
  • Buy a dishwasher if your kitchen is small (if it is big, get people washing up!)
  • Choose furniture that can maximise seating.
  • Learn five simple recipes that you are quick to make.
  • Ask for help from the people using your household.
  • You could even set up a coffee machine, kettle etc that people can help themselves to drinks from.
  • A downstairs toilet means that people don’t need to traipse upstairs all the time.
  • Think carefully about how you use your home. It can work to always cook extra and let people know what time you are eating.
  • In years 2 and 3 of the plant you need to be careful about your own energy level and having people through the home all the time – you can push through on adrenaline for a while but not forever.
  • Have boundaries where you need them.

6. Connection to Christ

  • Hebrews 12:2 – we need to fix our eyes on Jesus.
  • We also need a plan for how we are going to connect to Christ – daily, weekly etc.
  • Get a rhythm with daily devotions.
  • Also on a weekly basis put aside time to linger longer.
  • Termly find time to get away for a day or have a retreat.
  • It is important as your church plant grows that your spiritual authority and leadership grows.
  • Your devotional life gets replicated to some extent in the church you lead.

7. Watch For Warning Lights on the Dashboard

  • There are certain warning signs in life that show that we need help.
  • Emotional imbalance – Impatience for small things or disproportionate emotional reactions to things that happen.
  • Moving from leading to maintaining 
  • Self-Medication – Developing coping mechanisms, for example over-eating, under-eating, escaping.
  • Hopelessness/Cynicism – When it feels like nothing is really working.
  • Isolation
  • Avoiding new challenges/opportunity
  • Lack of productivity/procrastination
  • Lack of compassion/emotional numbness – This can often come from not grieving well.
  • Don’t be too proud to admit your warning lights.

8. Don’t Under-Spiritualise Spiritual Warfare

  • We are in a battle and it is life and death.
  • We must not under-spiritualise spiritual warfare.
  • Find people who will stand with you in prayer.

9. Different Roles at Different Sizes

  • In the early stages you need to be an all-rounder – people are building to you so you need to spend time with them.
  • Between 10 and 30 people you need to build people to each other.
  • Between 30 and 50 it is about delegating and raising up leaders.
  • Between 50 and 75 it is releasing leaders and trying to find some specialists.
  • A church planting leader needs to be adept at knowing the kind of leadership that is required at every stage.

10. Don’t Gain a Church and Lose a Marriage

  • Church planting puts lots of pressure on marriages.
  • If the planter’s spouse hasn’t bought in, the project should end immediately.
  • If you are a church planting couple, talk about your expectation of how involved each person will be.
  • The stats show that whether the spouse is an active co-pastor or behind the scenes is not significant for whether the plant works.
  • You do need to work out who will do what though.


1. How Do You Work Out Who Does What In a Church Plant as a Married Couple?
  • It helps if you have some experience of leading together before church planting
  • Ask the people who are investing in you some really honest questions about what you should spend your time doing.
  • Don’t just assume that certain things are for the husband and other things are for the wife.
  • Try to do this hard work before you go.
2. How Do You Find Time to Invest In Your Marriage When Church Planting?
  • When the kids are small, you can get takeaway in even if you can’t go out one evening per week.
  • Ask yourselves what are some of the common themes in your conflict – these are your pressure points.
3. How Do You Protect Time For the Family As a Whole?
  • It is difficult.
  • When the kids are small, 5-7pm is the ‘death zone’ – this can be a good time to have people over.
  • As the kids get older it can be less helpful to have people round at this time, but make an effort to be home at 7.
  • Understand your kids well and gain clarity what their needs are.
  • It helps if your kids can build good relationships with different people in the church.
4. How Did You Involve Your Children In the Church Planting Process?
  • They were very young at the time.
  • Even though they were very young they did miss their friends.
  • Talk to them about being the welcome team for other children who come.
5. When Evangelism Isn’t Your Primary Gift, How Do You Help Your Church Connect With Your Town?
  • Vineyard recommend that church planters spend 50% of their time finding the next 10 people to join their church.
  • If you are more gifted pastorally you still need to find a way to do it even if you don’t feel great about it.
  • The danger if you are primarily a teacher or pastor is using this as an excuse not to do it.
  • Stepping out in it, even if you are not great at it will set the tone for the church.
6. What Is the Best Thing to Do If You See the Warning Lights In People In Your Team? 
  • It starts by seeing them in yourself and being ready to share them appropriately.
  • Make sure the key people in your team get some time with you as a connection point.
  • Give people space to share where they are at and be willing to share with them what you see.
  • Help them to grieve.
7. What Are Some of the Ways That You Are Deliberate About Self-Care?
  • Accountability in various settings.
  • Make sure you grieve well when you send others out to plant – if you don’t, the church will probably not want to plant again!
  • Don’t always present everything super-positively.
8. How Important Is It to Find People Who Can Support You In the Place Your Are Going?
  • It is a bonus – but it can sometimes take a while to find.
  • It is important to have someone, but it might be a mainly digital connection – there should till be visits from time to time.
9. Can You Have Close Friendships With the People You Are Leading?
  • Yes, it is possible
  • It is also important to have friends outside the church.
  • It does complicates friendship (it can also make things complicated in marriage too!)