Ministry Starting, Movement Building
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Sweet Ministry/Movement Launching Advice

I’m following my own advice and turning a potential email into a blog post to share content that may be relevant to a variety of people.

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.

Click here to see the entire category of posts I’ve written on starting a ministry.

Two great resources via

photo courtesy of willmontague


  1. Hey Brian,

    I’m on staff at Alabama and have enjoyed your blog today, what would you suggest as these:

    “experiential, capacity building ACTIVITIES”

    I would assume initiative evangelism, anything else you would suggest? We are a growing staff team and we are trying to promote a leadership rich culture inside a medium sized and growing movement. We are finishing up our re-structuring of ‘leadership’ and general ‘funneling’ mechanics.

    Any suggestions on the activities?

    • hey karl such a great question.

      definitely initiative evangelism as you said, as well as starting a new movement or launching a bible study to a particular group.

      vision casting to younger students (i’ve seen it in the context of a bible study, informal mtg, ldrshp mtg)–this really helped grow our emerging leaders–even having them do intentional vision casting for picking roommates, working too much, etc worked well.

      bringing potential leaders into staff-type discussions (as appropriate of course)–even if it’s not super important, the chance to actually say something that will affect the movement is huge for building capacity–so easy for students to feel like they don’t have a voice.

      short videos for the ministry or even for campus or personal mpd–there are few chances for students to be spokespersons for the ministry–videos are an easy way to get them some experience in this area.

      taking or sending them to mtgs where all the other ministry leaders are present–really solidifies the mission, vision and values as they hear from others.

      hope those are helpful!

  2. Hey Brian,

    Thanks so much for doing this for me! I am going to be finishing up my talk soon with not much direction so this helps a TON.

    Thanks again!

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