Preparing to Plant


Here’s where we have been in the Discipleship Ministry Leadership Series:

Today our topic is: Prepare

Preparing includes all of the leadership tasks between Planning and Planting.  Sounds obvious!

We recently added a patio to our backyard. We were the brawn, our friend Troy was the brains. We set the date when Troy was going to come with the equipment and experience to build the patio. With blueprints in hand, we made several trips to the hardware and landscaping stores to purchase materials, organized deliveries, and dug out the old cement slab. When Troy showed up we were prepared.

What tasks need to happen to be ready to plant or begin discipleship ministries?

Let’s assume your plan is in place and you have a pretty good idea of when you want to get started.  Preparing will involve communication, recruitment and training about the plan in order to be ready to launch.


Who needs to know about the plan? A key job is to communicate the vision and strategy with staff, elders, deacons, church leadership, existing ministry leaders and your congregation. 

What do they need to know? Good communication will reduce anxiety and address people’s questions.   People want to know:  How will the new plan effect what is already happening? When will we start and stop? How was the decision made? People also need to hear things several times and in different ways. It takes about six months for an idea to take root.   I visited a church that had a vibrant discipleship ministry.  I knew about what was going on just by walking through the building.  They had a table where you could meet people to sign up, posters on the walls with pictures and huge banners in the sanctuary stating the vision. I have also heard about churches communicating through sermons, videos, dramas, learning events, etc.


Who and how will people be involved? Recruiting involves engaging leaders as well as participants. What are the basic expectations of a church member?  How will they benefit from participating? How will currently ministry leaders be involved? People like clear boundaries and expectations, clear roles, and clear time commitments.  Recruiting best takes place one to one. People might hear about the idea from announcements, a sermon or bulletin announcement, but they would rather be asked than to volunteer.  Larry Osborne in Sticky Church says he looks for leaders who are spiritually and relationally warm. He avoids what he calls “Hyperspiritual God talkers” and “Single-issue Crusaders.”   They make a list of potential leaders, pray over the list for a couple of months and then ask people if they might pray about leadership. 


What do people need to know? What type of training will help the leaders succeed? What training should happen before you start? What type of ongoing or just-in-time training might continue to encourage leaders? What is the best format for training adult leaders?  One discipleship ministry leader has begun to meet for coffee with two or three leaders.  It gives them an opportunity to share what God is doing, ask questions and help each other find solutions.

It is July. What type of preparations should happen in your ministry setting before you launch your ministry year? 

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Planning a garden with others involves sharing input and compromising on ideas. Flowers or vegetables? Perenials or annuals? etc.

Planning a small group ministry also involves sharing of ideas and compromise. 10 people or 20 people per group? Bible study or book study? Keep the same groups or mix them up?

Prayer and communication are definitely important aspects of healthy small groups.