How to Meet People When Planting a Church in a New Area

With the success of my book Launch and our other Church Planting Resources, we get lots of questions from church planters.

One question that comes up on a regular basis comes from people who are planting in a new area, and it often sounds like this:

I’m planting a church in a new area and I just don’t know anyone.

What are a few steps I can take to meet new people and get plugged into my new community?

Today, I’ve asked Scott Whitaker, Lead Pastor of StonePoint Church and President of Church Leader Insights, to share his thoughts.

Thanks Nelson – this is a great question!  I’ve been a “pioneer” church planter too.

Here are a few tools that I’ve used to get out and meet some people:

1- Join a community organization.

You might consider your local Chamber of Commerce (which I did), Rotary, or Kiwanis club.

You’ll be able to network and meet other community and business leaders.

To really maximize this effort, you might even join one of their committees and volunteer.

2- Visit the same business repeatedly.

Many church planters set up office in a coffee shop.  That’s a common one.  Or you might choose to visit the same restaurant, business supply store, barber shop, bank, etc.

Start getting to know the people of the places you frequent – ask them questions about the community.

For example: for a while, I would intentionally get some things printed at one local business supply store.  Periodically, I would let them know that I’m sending out a flyer and ask for their feedback on the design.  It really helped build rapport.

3- Setup meetings with key leaders.

Depending on the size of your town, you might be able to meet with the mayor, local government leaders, or other community influencers.

Develop a list of questions to ask them about the community.  And before you leave, be sure to ask them who they think you should get to know.

4- Meet other local pastors.

There is a great deal that you can learn from other local pastors who have been in the area.

I still meet with a local pastor once a month.  Even after planting five years ago, there’s still a lot I can learn from him about the community and ministry.

He’s been in the area for over 17 years and been in ministry much longer than that.

I hope these help!

Scott Whitaker

Thanks Scott – these are great ideas to build connections!

What would you add to this list?

P.S. If you’re planting a church and looking for a proven strategy to start larger, quicker, and healthier, check out The Launch Conference on CD.

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About Nelson Searcy

Nelson Searcy is an experienced church planter, coach and church growth strategist, working with churches in over 45 denominations. Nelson is also the Founding and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church, with locations across New York City and in San Francisco and Boca Raton, FL. He first developed the Assimilation System 10 years ago at the Journey Church and has since implemented and improved these strategies with over 3,000 churches across all sizes and denominations. He started coaching pastors in 2006 and has personally coached over 2100+ senior pastors, helping them break common growth barriers like 125, 250, 500, 1000 and beyond, all while maintaining personal life and ministry balance. As founder of Church Leader Insights and the Renegade Pastors Network, he has trained more than 50,000 church leaders (3,000+ church planters). He is the author of over 85 church growth resources and 17+ books, including Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests Into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church and The Renegade Pastor: Abandoning Average in Your Life and Ministry. His continued mission is to help church leaders around the world cooperate with God in creating healthy, thriving churches. Nelson is married to Kelley and together they have one son, Alexander.

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