Category Archives: Build a Missional Core

Raising Up a Prayer Team

Experienced church planters know the intensity of spiritual warfare in the church planting environment. God plants His church through retaking enemy territory, by breaking down barriers and strongholds. Without prayer, the opposition is overwhelming.  Before starting a church every planter should be committed to personal prayer and to the formation of a prayer team.


Here are ten simple ideas for raising up a prayer team:

  1. Pray and ask God to raise people up to pray.
  2. Make a list of individuals who might want to pray regularly.
  3. Invite people from your planting church to join your prayer team.
  4. Communicate your expectations – Total confidentiality, regular communication, at least one weekly time in prayer focused on your plant.
  5. Develop a monthly Prayer e-Newsletter.
  6. Invite the prayer team to be involved in all events, gatherings and activities as a standard part of the execution of your plan.
  7. Calendar to personally contact all your prayer team monthly.
  8. Begin to pray for a Prayer Champion for your church.
  9. Focus your communication on the development of dependence on God in the planting process.
  10. Take some time to think through all the miracles from God that you are going to have to experience between now and the time the church is healthy, thriving, and reproducing.  Help your intercessors see the bigger vision!

 Who are you raising up to pray for your church plant?

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.

The Art of Making the Ask

Whether God has given you a vision for a neighborhood, a city, or a whole country, effectively reaching people far from Him and helping them become the Church is eventually going to require more time, talent or money than you have.


You can’t do this alone, which means you need to master the art of the ask. Practicing these three pieces will help you be ready.

  • Tell a Story – preferably an exciting one.
    There is some event or experience or both that God used to grab your heart and compel you to go all in. That story is the why. Telling it well connects other peoples heart to your heart and together to God’s heart.
  • Paint a picture – preferably an inviting one.
    There is a future God’s put on your heart to make real. That picture is the where. Painting it well makes people want to go there with you.
  • Describe the Steps – preferably simple ones.
    There is a way to get from where you are to where God is calling you go. Those steps are the how. Describing them clearly gives people steps to take.

Can you think of someone God has given time, talent or treasure that could help reach the people you care about? Tell the story. Paint the picture. Describe the steps. Make the ask.

Raising the Bar

By Tim Heerebout

I used to be an athlete. If you look at my picture now it’s quite obvious that I could no longer call myself that. Despite my current lack of physical prowess I am still a great fan of sports of all kinds. Any pursuit that takes the human body and pushes it to its limits is enough for me…which is why I don’t count baseball or golf as real sports…but that’s another post all together.

Even sports I’ve never attempted fascinate me. Take high jumping for example. How is it possible that a human being manages to hurl their entire mass over this bar that is raised several meters off the ground. By the looks of it, it’s not easy. It requires training, more misses than hits at first and a driving desire to get better just a little bit every time you jump.

I’ve been discovering lately that church planting requires the same mentality. When I speak to people about the predicament Christ followers face here in Toronto I often tell them that I think the world is hearing us say “I’m a Christian” and saying in response “so what?” As one barista put it to me in a conversation “I know irreligious people doing more for the world than most Christians I know”. Ouch. Firm…but fair I think.

So I believe we need to raise the bar on what it means to be a Christ follower. Most of us aren’t training hard enough, not pushing ourselves to the limits of servanthood in the name of Jesus, not waking up every day with the pursuit of becoming more like Jesus just a little bit burning within us. If you want some scriptural basis for this being a part of Jesus’ call to us then perhaps reading the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 5 again might help. Pay special attention to verses 21-48. Isn’t raising the bar exactly what Jesus is doing for his listeners?

Here’s the rub and lesson I’ve been learning. As a church planter you will constantly feel the urge to lower the bar – especially when you’re trying to create early traction. It’s lonely when your church is literally ONLY your family. You’ll give anything to get those first few followers. You’ll even consider giving away your vision. I’ve done it several times this year and without hesitation it’s come back to bite me in the rear on every occasion.

Be committed to raising the bar. Call people to nothing short of a radical transformation into Christ followers. Set the expectations high for yourself and your leaders. Everyday strive together to become just a little bit more like Jesus. Invite people to discover what that feels like. For me it’s likely the only way I can feel like a real athlete again…I’m betting it’ll feel even better this time around.

Follow Tim on his blog and Twitter!/timheerebout