Implicit in the phrase “church planting” is the expectation that the planter’s effort, empowered by the Holy Spirit, will result in a fruitful harvest that glorifies God. Too often this doesn’t happen.
Having served in two church plants, I have learned that GREAT EXPECTATIONS foster fruitfulness. These GREAT EXPECTATIONS are key components in developing a strategic disciple-making church.
For example, I suggest you prayerfully produce three sets of five GREAT EXPECTATIONS. Of course, you may have more or less of these GREAT EXPECTATIONS as the Lord leads.
What are five GREAT EXPECTATIONS the Lord has of your new church? Without discerning such expectations, why would you even consider planting a church? Yes, there are universal expectations that the Lord places upon every congregation, but what are the unique expectations the Lord has put upon your church plant? These expectations may relate to a certain geographic area, a certain demographic, or a certain goal. Complete the following: “________ Church exists to fulfill these GREAT EXPECTATIONS that the Lord has placed upon our leadership and entire congregation:”
Complete the following: “Friends, if you choose to attend _______ Church, here are five GREAT EXPECTATIONS you should have about this congregation: (example)
Fearless Spiritual Formation
Fearless Study of the Bible
Once again, tailor your list to contain the GREAT EXPECTATIONS you believe God would have attendees of your church expect from your church plant. Quarterly or annually, provide a review of how the church plant performed in these areas to affirm that the church is doing what it said it would do.
Complete the following: “Here are five GREAT EXPECTATIONS _______ Church will have of you if you choose to attend regularly. ________ Church wants to be a gathering of ‘doers,’ not mere ‘hearers’ of the Word. (Example)
Weekly collective worship attendance
Be engaged in a small group
Be an active and involved member of a ministry team
Be trained in evangelism and assertive in sharing the Gospel
Again, tailor your expectations prayerfully. Understand that new converts are expecting to be told what they should do next. Sadly, too many churches have no systematic post-conversion spiritual formation track that new converts can run on.
Also, understand that many Christians who are transferring to your church plant, arrive with a “Once I join the church, I don’t have to do diddly-squat” imprint from their former low-achiever church. Such people should be disabused of this idea before being permitted to join or they will simply be dead weight. On the other hand, many believers will ignite when they are challenged to join a body of believers who truly want to do something that means something for the Kingdom of God.
By clearly articulating its cluster of GREAT EXPECTATIONS, a church plant demonstrates its faith that those expectations will ultimately be fulfilled. “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9, ESV)
Dr. Don Burgess’ background includes broadcasting, theatre, the military, the United States Foreign Service, academia, and business, as well as ministries with various churches and mission agencies. He has an MDiv from the International School of Theology and a DMin from Fuller Theological Seminary. Don and his wife Lyn minister in Fort Worth, Texas.