If someone ever asks me how to grow a church, they’re going to be disappointed with my answer because step one is capturing an eagle. And that involves purchasing field mice, ownership of leather elbow length gloves and more talon gouging than you’re probably used to.
Fortunately, Geoff Surratt of Seacoast Church in Charleston, South Carolina wrote a great new book called “Ten Stupid Things That Keep Churches from Growing: How Leaders Can Overcome Costly Mistakes.” It draws from the experience of pastors like Craig Groeschel, Perry Nobel, Mark Batterson and many others. He stopped by Stuff Christians Like recently for a blog tour and was kind enough to answer a question. (And I love his answer by the way.) Here’s what I said and here is how he responded:
My dad is starting a church in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I’ve repeatedly told him that if he wants it to grow, their logo needs to contain the following: a dove clutching an olive branch, a lamb, a sun rising through the O in their name, a cross, a flame, and an open Bible. (Some people will suggest adding a globe as well but for my money that makes the whole logo feel a little “busy.”)
That’s my advice for him, but I’m not an expert. What advice would you give to people starting new churches?
Geoff Surratt’s answer:
In addition to the excellent guidance you’ve given your dad on logos I’d add the following advice to a new church planter:
1. Be sure to get one of those church signs where you can display clever and inspirational messages on a daily basis. My favorite is “Truth decay? Try brushing up on you Bible!”, but you may have your own personal wealth of pithiness.
2. Choose a very hip and somewhat obscure one word name for your church. Journey, Discovery and dozens of variations on the Cross (Crossway, Crosspoint, Crossing) are already taken, but there are still a few good ideas ripe for the plucking. If I were starting a church I would call it Geoff’s Church of Fun, but that violates the one word name rule. I still think it is a good name.
3. Buy Ten Stupid Things the Keep Churches from Growing and commit most of it to memory. It might be helpful, plus it would keep your mind off the fact that you now have a ginormous logo, a cheesy sign, an incomprehensible name and no congregation.
On a more practical note I’d advise church planters to:
1. Don’t plant a church unless there is nothing else you can do.
If you could be happy pastoring an existing church or working on staff at a church or writing a sarcastic blog about goofy things Christians do, then that is what you should do. Church planting is incredibly hard and should only be attempted by people so passionate that they can’t imagine doing anything else.
2. Partner with a church planting group.
Church planting is a lonely business and you need people cheering you on from the sidelines. Seacoast helps plant churches through the Association of Related Churches, Mars Hill founded the Acts 29 Church Planting Network and Community Christian Church in Chicago leads the NewThing Network. Each of these organizations is always on the lookout for sharp new church planters. They each provide training, funding and support. Only a crazy person would plant alone.
3. Make sure your spouse and kids are 110% on board before you plant.
(I’m not sure how you can mathematically get 110%, but athletes do it all the time; I’m sure you’ll figure it out.) One of the mistakes I talk about in the book is the wrong role for the pastor’s family. Church planting will take a huge toll on your spouse and your children; if they are not behind you heart and soul you may destroy what is most precious to you in life. When you get to Heaven God is not going to say, “Hey, too bad about your family. But awesome job growing a great big church. Fist bump, Dude!”