This Sunday we celebrated one year as RISE Church. I wanted to post some thoughts this week that might be helpful to other church planters. Let me be clear I am not the senior pastor and our situation is different than probably anyone else but we do have something you can learn from.
First let me go over our timeline of pre-launch.
RISE was two weeks out from launch and put on hold due to unforeseen circumstances. I won’t go into the details, but the launch team was put on hold while Pastor Aaron and Erica left town. They headed back to St. Louis to help the church we had served on together through a time of crisis.
Pastor Aaron reconnects with launch team members that the church was going forward again. My wife and I decide, after hearing the voice of God, that we are to join Erica and Aaron on the launch team. We sell our dream home and prepare to move to San Antonio.
June 15, 2018
My family arrives in San Antonio mid June and we start getting settled in. Tabby and Christian Powell have already settled in after moving from Houston.
July 1, 2018
Pastor Aaron and his family arrive back in San Antonio and we hit the ground running. We decide on a launch date of September 30.
July 8, 2018
We drive a team to Keller, Texas to get our equipment out of storage. Another church had bene paying to store it while Rise was on hold. We had also been paying rent in our faculty although we weren’t meeting there.
July 15, 2018
We gather at our first start up party. We know that things will be tight as we have maybe 30 adults on the launch team left. Over half the people had moved on to other churches or decided that the suddenness of the “launch pause” was too much for them. The excitement starts building.
July 29, 2018
We have another startup party. We are starting to gain steam.
August 4, 2018
We restart the community engagement by being part of our local city marketplace event. We give out candy and free ice cold water. We give out materials to the church start up parties and answer any questions. We continue this every first Saturday of the month. (Currently still in the community every month engaging them where they’re at.)
August 12, 2018
We host our third startup party. We start collecting school supplies to give to a local elementary school.
August 17, 2018
Engage our community again by attending their movie night and giving out water and hosting activities for the kids.
August 19, 2018
We have our fourth start up party. We deliver the school supplies after this one.
August 23, 2018
We start running brand awareness campaign on Facebook to make sure people are seeing us. We also have two over the road banners put up around the end of the month for visibility/marketing.
September 1, 2018
We attend our last marketplace before launch. It’s just about getting our name out there. We want the community to know where they can come when they need us.
September 2, 2018
We have a Family BBQ, this one is all about fun and family. A fun time is had by all.
September 9, 2018
We have our first team night to start assessing what people on the launch team are interested in if they haven’t already committed. We are teaching vision, mission, and values in this time. We sent out yard signs to advertise service times. Launched 21 days of prayer.
September 15, 2018
We have unboxing and testing of equipment etc.
September 16, 2018
Practice Sunday #1
September 23, 2018
Practice Sunday #2. We start running heavy Facebook ads, Google Ads, and 100,000 postcards go out to our surrounded area. People will argue against using postcards and road banners today but we saw results from them. We realized that it took many different “touches” to get people into the doors. They would mention seeing the banner, getting the card, and seeing a yard sign.
September 30, 2018
Now during this whole time we were posting on social media and posting to sites to draw volunteers and team members in. We had taken the sites down at the “pause” so we started them back up and I took them all over. I posted something every day. I read every article and watched every video I could on when and what to post to drive engagement. We replied to every comment. We posted a “volunteer job” on churchstaffing.com. We did the same on Craigslist. We posted on community sites, radio station event listings etc. I submitted our details to anything I could. I asked everyone I knew to share and post.
Our leadership team spent the 12 weeks from being on the ground until launch meeting with people. We asked if anyone knew anyone we could contact. We called every lead. We did coffee. I ran a spreadsheet with color coding for every lead that came in. Green they’re in, yellow is a maybe and red was a no. We systematically called, texted, emailed, and met until they gave a sure “no.” In the end the spreadsheet had a lot of red. We would meet with anyone who would meet. I drove all over town doing coffees, lunches, and meetings. We hustled non stop.
We took school supplies to the local elementary school. Coffee and donuts to the police and fire stations. We did bags for the homeless right after launch. We hustled the whole time. We had a great launch and the upcoming weeks were better than projected. We followed the ARC model for just about everything. We launched our version of Growth Track the next week after launch (shortened down to two weeks which we still do today).
That’s just the general overview of what we did. If you’re a church planter and you’d like to review what we did or have questions, please comment below and I’ll be in touch. I pray we can be a resource to you. I’d love to share with you what we learned in our launch.