When I was a kid the launching of a capsule into space was a huge deal. Being on the West Coast the television coverage began very early. I vividly remember being wakened by my dad about thirty minutes prior to liftoff. I would sit along with the rest of the family excited by the countdown. It was thrilling seeing that small capsule encasing human beings being thrust into outer space. We would watch as it became nothing more than a dot in the sky and then gone.
The liftoff was exciting, but it was not the end. The launch was the beginning of the mission. The same is true for church planting. There is much enthusiasm and excitement that surrounds the launch day of a new church. People come to support. Much work is put into it being effective. There is a tendency to sense that once the launch has happened the mission is complete.
This got me thinking: What can be done after launch to insure an effective mission (church)?
Monitoring systems. Everything is monitored. This extends from the external and internal integrity of the shuttle to the health of the astronauts. What monitoring systems need to be in place for church plants? What is being done to insure that the organizational structure is sound? Is there a way to monitor the spiritual and physical health of the planter?
Constant communication. The ground is constantly in communication with those on the mission. They want to know what is happening and they are desirous of making sure the people are doing well. Sadly this is often not the case once a plant launches. We forget about the plant, neglect the planter and her or his leaders. We need to do a better job staying connected. Text, e-mails, phone calls and even the ancient method of face to face interaction can all help keep communication lines open.
Available to resource. The ground team is there to provide all they can, as they can, from where they can what the mission needs. They provide encouragement. They give instruction. They make suggestions as to how emergencies are to be handled. Those on the mission know they have a team of people who want them to succeed as badly as they desire to succeed. But resourcing goes two ways. Those on the mission must recognize those not with them have something to offer. Those who say they are available to resource must be ready when called upon.
Future planning. The mission has been thought through to its end. Every scenario of ineffectiveness has been considered. Solutions to potential problems have been developed. Little is left to chance. Planters can easily get caught up in “We will figure it out when we need to.” This may appear cutting edge and faith filled, but it often is the cover given for, “I just don’t want to plan.” A friend who works with Neo360 (an organization committed to starting all kinds of churches) said, “One of the most difficult challenges we have is convincing planters they need to figure out how to assimilate new people.” This is post-launch stuff and not very ‘wow,” but without it the mission of reaching and connecting people will be ineffective.
Adjust as needed. They do all they can to plan for everything, but everything cannot be planned for; so adjustments will be made. The adjustments are not to the mission, but to the method. Church planters can get just as enamored with their method as others. Just because a method is different does not mean it is effective.
Move beyond the launch to effective mission. Don’t merely blast off, but build off your beginning to achieve mission fulfillment.