We planted Lake Hills Church in North LA County in 1990.

Ever since planting a church it seems that church planters and potential church planters have been asking me this question:

If you were to start a church again, what would you do differently?

I think that’s a great question because even now it causes me to reflect on what I’ve learned and to synthesize over 16 years of experience into a determined strategy for starting a church.

Initially when asked this question, I would say something like this…

“Don’t start with your friends from seminary.”

“Make sure you have several dress rehearsals before your grand opening Sunday.”

“Start five groups before you begin weekly worship.”

“Recruit more leaders to join you before you start.”

“Begin developing leaders and elders right away.”

“Preach on tithing from the very beginning.”

“Set funds aside for a church plant starting with the first offering collected.”

“Delay starting worship services until you have enough critical mass.”

While I think these are all practical steps to take — if I started a church again, I would…

First Make Disciples!

In fact, this is the number one lesson that I try to impress on church planters whenever I can. Don’t start worship services; instead, start making disciples!

If you don’t first make disciples it is unlikely that you or most of the people you start with will actively engage in the process of making disciples. It’s typical that most church planting team members contribute their time, energy and finances to starting worship services and volunteering to “serve” on Sundays. Don’t start a church by launching worship services!

First Make Disciples. That’s what I would do differently.

When we moved to Castaic, we found a place to worship, gathered together some Christian friends, advertised our grand opening Sunday (newspaper, 10K piece mailing, door knockers, etc), and kicked off our first service — all within 3 months.

I don’t recommend starting a church that way. First make disciples.

I’d study the culture, incarnate the gospel, make disciples — baptize them and teach them to obey — and then form lots of missional communities. That’s what I’d do if I went to start a church today.

Today’s Missional Challenge

Don’t even think of starting worship services until you first make disciples!

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