A friend of mine is giving a talk on launching a movement to a group of college students and asked what sorts of tips resources I would share.
Here’s what I have, please share anything you might have in the comments as I know he would appreciate it:
The essence of a launch is discovering and molding a core group of LEADERS, not gathering and retaining a group of LABORERS. Most unsuccessful ministry start-ups happen because of a leadership shortage. It’s extremely difficult to wait for the right people and extremely easy to start pouring out resources into the wrong people.
What I look for in a leader to start a ministry: youth (young relative to the context, in college ministry a freshmen or sophomore), courage, passion (negative or positive). Starting a ministry is frustrating, hard, and shows little fruit for at least four years. Every one of the students that “made it” through my start-up at Chico State had lots of passion.
What type of training I prefer in a ministry start-up: experiential, capacity building ACTIVITIES, not intellectual, knowledge building INFORMATION. It’s tempting to start taking your new leaders through content, but what they really need is to be held accountable to taking faith steps in light of the unseen/future. Classic example in college ministry is teaching people how to lead a bible study when they one have two or three people coming to their study. Don’t teach them something. Take them somewhere they haven’t been. When they have ten or twenty coming then they can learn the skills related to leading a study.
Don’t be afraid to PRUNE! Losing people is the norm in ministry starting. In fact if you are not losing people then you are probably not clear enough on your mission, vision and values. When anything new starts up it draws curious people–you’re doing them and yourself a disservice if you’re not modeling and talking about what you want to be. Think about finding a new church–the first one is rarely the one you stick with. Even in a time sensitive ministry start-up such as a short term mission trip you can direct those seeking leadership to other places if they do not show potential in living out the mission, vision and values.
Be Stingy about Leadership Positions, But Generous about Leadership Behavior: I wrote a post on Maximizing Leadership Behavior here. My rule of thumb when deciding on whether or not a person should be a leader is “are they already there, or are we betting on them getting there?” Established ministries have a lot more freedom to entrust leadership positions to those with potential, start-ups do not.
Two great resources via GodSquad.com: