How to start a congregation
Don’t just start a worship service!
The vision of multiplying congregations is not a vision just to increase the number of worship events.
It is not a belief that “if we put a new service on they will come”. The goal is to see new communities
of disciples growing out of authentic mission. The process of planting your new congregation will not
be complete until you have regular (probably weekly) gatherings to worship God together. After all,
that is what disciples of Jesus do. But please don’t start with a worship event.
Instead, begin to meet with a small group to pray and explore what God may be calling you to grow
from the mission he has given you.
You may find it helpful to “DARE” (Dream, Ask, Risk, Engage). We’ll write more about each of these
on the Blog in the weeks ahead but here are some initial ideas.
Dream and Ask
Mission begins with the confidence that God is already at work, in the world around us, and also in
our own hearts. So take some time together to allow yourselves to dream and to ask questions.
What are we dissatisfied with? What are we longing for? What are we passionate about?
Remember that passion can take the form of anger as well as enthusiasm.
Where is the world around us changing in ways that create a need or opportunity?
For example a new housing estate or a changing demographic.
Which groups are we most connected to and which groups are we least connected to?
Mission can start from recognizing the opportunity offered by existing relationships (for example, a
group of families may share a desire to pray for and serve their school). It can also begin as you
notice that a group of people have little or no connection to the church (for example, under 30’s or
What promptings do we sense as we pray and read scripture together?
What are people around us hungry for and open to?
As a clearer vision emerges from your dreaming and asking it is time to take risks and engage.
Faith always involves risk. Mission is risky. Planting a new congregation is risky. There is the risk of
“failure”, with no guarantees the venture will work. Are we willing to take the risk of having a go,
learning from whatever happens and being content with pleasing God in the process? There is also
the risk of “success”. You might experience a new depth of community, where outsiders find a place
of belonging among you. The experience could spoil you for anything else, ever again!
Of course not all risks are worth taking, and not every good risk should be taken immediately. So it’s
worth exploring as a team and as a church if this is a risk you believe God is asking you to take. We’d
love to join that conversation to help discern what doors are opening.
What is the next step for you? Is it a new mission activity to begin or a new step in taking forward
something already happening?
“If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly!” (G. K. Chesterton)
Of course we want to do things as well as possible. That’s why we’re offering support, training and
resources. But don’t wait for everything to be in place and clear before you start. Don’t wait to be
perfect. Don’t wait to be good at it whatever God’s calling you to, in fact don’t even wait to be
average. Get stuck in. Get your hands dirty. Get your nose bloody. Do it with all your heart and
strength even if that is only good enough to do it badly. Engage!