Core Team or Launch Team?

Jesus sent the disciples out two by two. The pattern he set was that His followers go on His mission together. As a church planter, inspiring others to join you is essential for the birthing of a new church.

What is their role? Are they a core team – people who start with you and stay with you on mission? Are they a launch team – people who start with you, but may not stay with you or ever become leaders in the new church?  Let me suggest you need both.


Create a Core Team
A core team is 12-25 people whom you invited to do life and mission with you.
  • Church is a “who” not a “what.”  The core team is a church from the beginning.
  • Culture is how “we” behave.  The core team are the people who live out the mission, vision and values. Their lives create the culture of the new church.
  • The first activities in the life of a church plant are people intensive.  Who will build relationships? Who will create community? Who will serve their neighbors?  Who will lead people to faith? Who will help them grow? Who will equip the next leaders?   Creating a core team means other people, not just you, are giving their lives to these activities.
In my experience, a team of less than 12 is just too small to engage in all the activities of forming a new church in a way that creates momentum.  I have also observed that a core that is too big doesn’t really function as core.  A group of 50 or more can’t exist for long without significant energy focused internally – which ultimately detracts from the  mission.


Gather a Launch Team
A launch team is a group of 50-100 who are committed to starting a regular gathering that will catalyze both the numerical and spiritual growth of a new church.
  • Starting weekly services is task intensive.  It takes many willing volunteers to create an environment that welcomes people of all ages and engages them in a meaningful way.
  • Anyone can serve.   You don’t need to be a follower of Jesus to set up chairs or make coffee.
  • Everyone can belong. When the launch team is those committed to serve, not those who carry the missional DNA, you can include everyone who is willing – even if they need a cup of coffee to take the edge off their hangover before they setup the chairs.
In my experience, trying to pull together a weekly service with less than 50 people only leads to burnout and will most likely bring a halt to any and all other outward focused activities.  On the other hand, when a launch team grows to be a 100 people its time to go. Waiting to start a service will only dissipate the energy and momentum that has already been created.
Are you in the birthing season of a new church?  Wondering who will do this with you? Consider creating a core team and gathering a launch team.

One thought on “Core Team or Launch Team?

  1. Mike Miller

    Great article. This is my third church plant and the first that I am leading. I would caution and comfort the church planters that you don’t always know who is what group and there are a lot of people that will bounce from one to the other. It’s messy and you will take it personally.

    There will be people you think are your core, who quickly become launch and may even leave. One book I read calls these “Scaffolding people” much like the Launch team here.

    Also, I think your numbers of 50 and 100 are good guides, but consider the cultural context and mission of the church. This assumes a specific type and style of church planting. Example, I am in the Pacific NW. That is a very different context than the South or MidWest. Most established churches in my city are less than 100 people.

    The rub with all of this planning is the “S” word. Sustainability. That is the biggest detractor from mission and what sucks the life out of church planters. Most church planters are dreamers and want to love people and serve people in to a relationship with Jesus. I could do that all day downtown in my neighborhood. Just… loving people…
    But dealing with budgets, taxes, payroll, license fees, space rental….. that quickly becomes a burden and the hurdle that you have to figure out every day. Even if properly delegated, the weight of those things rest only on the lead planter. but that’s another article altogether…

    Thanks for the good word!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>