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rkRobert Krumrey 

Lead Pastor of MERCYhouse
Director of Western Mass Church Planting

P.O. Box 2203
Amherst, MA 01004
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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checklistOver the past several months, we've been talking about the prayer/planning stage of the church plant endeavor. Before we begin talking about the CORE BUILDING STAGE, here's a recap of all of the things on the checklist so far:

1.  Pray

2. The Gospel

3. Church Polity

4. Baptism

5. Lord's Supper

6. Target Community

7. Target Tribe

8. Fundraising

9. Recruiting Core

10. Roles of my Core Team

11. Important Milestones

12. Marketing

13. Legalities

Stay tuned as we move into the Core Building Stage

CSgAkPyWIAEWNx0If marketing is a favorite pastime of church planters, dealing with the legalities of organizing as a church is the least favorite. Trudging through the mud of government forms is something that sends most church planters over the edge. How I dealt with this in our plant was put forth the least amount of effort and then pay later with additional forms that had to be filed to correct the first forms that I did wrong. The number of warning letters from the IRS that came in the church mail became a running joke because of all of the mistakes I was trying to remedy from multiple tax years. While I'm sure my soul was further sanctified by these hours of being on hold with the IRS, I trust that Jesus can refine you in some different ways that don't include certified mail from Uncle Sam. The best solution to this problem is to get someone else to do this for you. If you are planting with the Baptist Convention of New England, we have some resources to help this be relatively painless. If that’s not an option, seek out a payroll service and a bookkeeper. It is well worth your money and will free up more time to do the work of reaching people and making them into disciples.

Here’s a short list of legal things to get done before you launch:

  • Get EIN number
  • Establish your church as a 501C3 (you constitute/incorporate later)
  • Get a bank account (have to do above items first)
  • Get a bookkeeper
  • Hire a payroll service or establish with bookkeeper how to do payroll

What would you add to this list?  

church signsMarketing is oftentimes the first thing that church planters think about. We love the picture of the preferred future and a brochure for outreach or power point for potential partners gets our juices flowing. This is why I’ve purposely placed it at the end of the PLANNING stage. None of this will matter if you don’t do the ground game of raising funds, recruiting a core, and reaching the first fruits of a harvest from your target region. That said, this kind of stuff matters, so get help with this if it’s not your gift. It will also benefit you if you do some reading on how to be intentional about your online presence. Lots of articles out there on this. Here's one for example. There are so many tools out there that can help you get your message out in a consistent and attractive way.

Here is a simple list of things to think about in the area of Marketing:

  • Church Name
  • Church Logo
  • Postcard / Brochure for potential partners
  • Postcard / Brochure for outreach in community
  • Banner for public outreaches
  • Website, Facebook Fanpage, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus . . . and a tool like Buffer or Hootsuite to help you manage these accounts.
  • Tool to use group texting to communicate to contacts you’ve made
  • Video to communicate vision to partners (Get a Vimeo and Youtube channel for church)
  • Video to communicate vision to community
  • Ads that fit your context (News ad, Google ad, Facebook ad, sponsor community events, bus ad, radio spot, direct mail. . .)
  • Door to door invites to services or special event (this is a kinder, gentler way to do door to door)
  • Sponsorship of community events

What would you add to this list? 

mile marker1Expectations for church planting are really difficult to set but so important. The way to do this is NOT by looking at all of the posts from your church planting buddies. The guy who launches with 400 at his first gathering is not the guy you want to model your ministry after. So what should be your milestones?

Start with Jesus’ training of the twelve in places like Matthew 10. Their first milestone is to find a “person of peace.”

And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. 12 As you enter the house, greet it. 13 And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you.
Matthew 10:11-13

They figure out if the potential field of ministry is “worthy” of engagement with the message of the Kingdom by engaging that community. Your first milestone as a core team is to find that person of peace. The person doesn’t even have to be a Christian yet, but they serve as a gatekeeper in some way to the community you’re trying to reach and they “give you the keys” to a gate in that community. It could be a community leader with a title or someone with no official title at all. Recently I spoke to a church planter who had met the guy in the neighborhood who was really good at fixing cars and would do so for free. Consequently he knew everyone in the neighborhood and had a lot of favor with them. When we planted, it was the executive director of the Chamber of Commerce who invited us in to serve at community events and be a part of the shaping of chamber events. This is a significant milestone.

The second milestone is a healthy small group made up of people you have reached in the community. This is what you see Jesus doing as he asks the disciples to “follow me”. They not only become a follower of His but also a part of a small group who are learning Jesus and being trained to be on His mission. This is not core team members that you brought with you from some other place. These people are also not Christians that you’ve trolled out of local churches. While these two kinds of people can be very helpful in church planting, they are not the milestone I’m talking about. This second milestone is a group of people that you have gathered out of the harvest. They trust you enough and are hungry enough for growing in the gospel that they are willing to show up in your living room every week. If you can’t plant a small group Bible study in your community, you will never plant an effective church. These first two milestones are the “ground game” of your ministry. This is the true test of whether or not you and your team have what it takes to reach a community AND a test of whether God is at work in that community through your team’s efforts.

The milestones after this are really up to you and have a lot to do with your particular strategy. You may want to have a certain number of small groups before you launch publically. You may want a certain number of people engaged in those groups. You may want certain leadership positions filled on your core team list. This is something you and your team have to think about, and you should think about it. The reason is because it will help focus your efforts if you know what the next milestone is. If you know you want 4 small groups before public launch then you are immediately thinking about how to multiply groups out of the first one that you start. It also helps your team to set expectations so when you send out a few from your first small group to start the second, there won’t be a lot of push back and questions about why your breaking up the awesome community that everyone is experiencing. It doesn’t mean that you can’t change the milestones, it just means you are shooting for something.

Notice that I’m calling these milestones instead of a timeline.  Expectations about how long something should take can be helpful but usually you just don’t know how long things are going to take. Sometimes it will move faster than expected (I’m not kidding, this will happen and I pray that it does!). Other times, things move slower than one might expect. Milestones help you know what direction you are going which will inform what you do with your time on a day-to-day basis.

What will be the milestones of the first 18 months of your church plant?  

1When thinking about the “who” of your core team, you need to think about what roles you want your core members to fill. This starts with understanding your church planting model and your own strengths and weaknesses. If your model is an organic house church movement, then you won’t need someone to run a soundboard and update the website. If you plan to launch large through marketing and a big first gathering, then you’re going to need someone to build a website and lead the set-up team.

You also need to know yourself. ACTS29 uses the simple nomenclature of prophet, priest, and king as a way to assess the strengths and weaknesses of a planter/pastor/elder. Are you a prophet? As in someone who is a communicator, vision caster. If you are a church planter, chances are you would say yes. Are you a priest? As in someone who has a knack for walking alongside others over the long haul for the purpose of cultivating spiritual formation. Are you a king? As in someone who is a good organizer and mobilizer of leaders and others in the church. I would add a fourth. Are you an evangelist? Every planter has to engage in evangelism, but some are better at it than others. It’s a must for every church planting core team.

Once you get a sense of your strengths and weaknesses, you can think more clearly about who you need on your team. If you know you struggle to organize, you need to be hunting for someone to fill that role on the team. If you know you aren’t the strongest evangelist, you need to be hunting for someone or several someone’s who will be bringing lots of unbelievers to the church.

As a planter and pastor, I struggle being the front line evangelist. This doesn’t mean that I’m not engaging people for the purpose of leading them to Christ, but for whatever reason that has never been my strong suit. God in his mercy has always added to our team people that I call “bringers”. These people effortlessly invite droves of people to participate in church activities and the people actually say yes! Early on in our plant, we had a student named John Daley who was a flaming evangelist. Not a week went by when he wasn’t inviting a number of people to come and check out our church. They didn’t always say yes, but many of them did and his ministry was used mightily in the start up of our church plant.

Once you reflect on your model and your strengths and weaknesses, you can then begin to list out the roles and responsibilities of team members. This helps you clarify what you need and helps others understand what you are asking of them. Here are a few examples:

  1. Leadership Trainer

  2. Worship Leader

  3. Small Group Leader(s)

  4. Pastoral Care Minister

  5. Children’s Ministry Leader

  6. Collegiate Ministry Leader

  7. Youth Ministry Leader

  8. Bookkeeper

  9. Meal Coordinator

  10. Fundraiser

  11. Graphic Design Artist

  12. Videographer

  13. Webmaster

  14. Set-up Team Leader

  15. Sound Tech

  16. Greeters and Ushers Team Leader

  17. Follow-up Team (for new guests) Leader

  18. Event Coordinator

  19. Outreach Team Leader

  20. Jack of all trades and master of none person to fill the gaps

Oftentimes one person can cover multiple roles, but the more roles you can dream up, the more people you need on the team. You are already growing the church and will use this same discipline as you lead the church to the next stage of growth by leading large when you create roles that you don’t yet have and try to fill them.

What roles need to be filled on your team?

manNo one plants a church without a core team. Even if you are going to try to launch large with a significant marketing campaign, you have to have a team to help you pull off the launch. This means you've got to identify who that's going to be and then go after them.

Most of us naturally tend toward people we know. That's not all bad. Because of the history that we've had with certain people, we know they love Jesus and are willing to get on board with the vision. The problem with this is that we sometimes want to have this person in relationship with us so badly (church planting is lonely!) that we overlook the lack of alignment that we truly have with this person when it comes to the vision of the church plant. Every potential core team member has to be vetted regarding the vision of the plant whether we know them well or not.

I don't know how many times I've experienced this. I often have a good feeling about a person relationally and then automatically jump to the conclusion that we are on the same page in other ways as well. This is why before you recruit your core team, you yourself need to be able to articulate your vision. Put together some documents and practice your "pitch". After each of your meetings with potential team members, reflect on how well you communicated and tweak your presentation. Constantly be asking people what they are hearing from you.

You also want to give people the option to say no. This may seem counterintuitive to some of you salesmen out there, but you don't want people to be strong armed into serving on your team. If you are a planter, you are probably gifted in vision casting and can sell most anything to anybody. Know that about yourself and give people space to process what you are inviting them into and check back in at a later date to see where they've landed. You see Jesus doing something similar with some potential candidates for his core team:

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." 58 And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." 59 To another he said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." 60 And Jesus said to him, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." 61 Yet another said, "I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home." 62 Jesus said to him, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."
Luke 9:57-62

He's asking them each to seriously consider the cost of entering into the calling of discipleship in general, but there is an immediate context as well. Jesus is talking to these people about what it will be like if they follow Him at that moment which will include no knowledge of where food and accommodations are going to come from. We are inviting people not only to discipleship, but to follow us in the endeavor of church planting. This is going to be a great adventure that is also fraught with perils and will demand great sacrifice. We ourselves have no idea what kinds of demands will be placed on us and the team.

I'd also say that one should gather at least some of the core team from the harvest that is already coming from the planter's target area. I've seen some planters plop down in an area with Christian team members from the outside and merely become a tight knit house church. The planter himself needs to reach some people that go from nonchristian to vested core member. If God is leading you to plant in order to reach people in a particular region, this will happen. If it doesn't, it is one sign that God has not gifted you to plant churches or hasn't called you to that particular area.

When we first began core building for MERCYhouse, we had three people profess their faith within the first three weeks and they immediately jumped in with both feet. This was a huge help in setting the culture of our church. The content of every Bible study and leadership training time was communicated in a way that was accessible to people who were brand new to the faith because 1/4 of the team was brand new to the faith. It also created a great deal of excitement about the reason we were on the mission of planting a church. We could see the results of discipleship up close and personal.

Churches that have been successfully planted often have a story of how the church almost planted itself. Someone leads a friend from work to Christ and they start studying the Bible together. The new convert asks if they can bring a friend to study with them. That friend professes faith and now the potential planter starts to think about the needs of the many others in the same region who have little or no gospel witness. These first few converts end up becoming the beginning of a core group for church planting. It's one of the ways, much like fundraising, that God confirms one's call to plant a church.

Who do you want on your core team and what steps are you taking to help make that happen?

Interested in church planting in Western Mass or elsewhere in New England? This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

money 7A question that every church planter needs to answer is, “How much funding do I need and how do I plan to raise it?” If you think that some denominational entity is going to give you a free ride, I wish you luck. The entity that helped us plant MERCYhouse (North American Mission Board) is one of the most well funded church planting networks in the country. In New England alone, NAMB will disperse well over 1 million dollars this year for church planting. Even so, NAMB planters typically get $1000/mo and $5000 for start-up money. It’s a big help, but definitely not enough to raise a family in New England. I live in a small 3 bedroom home and my mortgage is almost twice $1000/mo.  

When we came to New England in 1999, we were fully funded through the denomination. It was part of a pilot project that was exploring the effectiveness of putting bigger money into fewer plants. Honestly, it’s probably the only reason I was willing to pack up my family in OK and drag them the 1500 miles to Amherst, MA to plant a church from scratch. The original funding was a five-year trickle down plan that changed drastically to 1 year plan because of a change in commitment from a partner. We found this out at month 3 of the church plant and I was immediately introduced to the fiery baptism of fundraising.

I had never done any fundraising before, nor was I aware of any training. I prayerfully came up with a strategy and did the following:

  1. Made a list of all the possible partners I could think of and started gathering all of their contact info. Without Facebook and Mailchimp!

  2. Communicated with the pastors I knew and asked them to consider leading their church/church members to partner with us.

  3. Sent out a letter communicating what our needs were and asking people to consider supporting. I made sure that I wrote a personal note on each and thank you notes when funding did come in.

  4. Flew back to Texas and Oklahoma to visit the two churches where I had served as youth pastor and college pastor, preached in their services, and met face to face with anyone who would listen.

  5. Followed up with monthly updates that communicated how the fundraising was going.

I was so desperate, stressed, scared, and praying like crazy during this whole process. What happened next I would have never predicted. People responded so generously that when we ran out of denominational funding nine months later, we had six months of funding from fundraising sitting in the bank. That remained true of our fundraising for years and to this day we continue to raise funds because our church is ½ college students. While this was a very hard testing time, it was also a powerful time of affirmation where God confirmed that He had called us to plant a church in Amherst, MA and would do whatever necessary to make it happen. If God is in your church plant, He will use provision in some way to confirm your calling as well.

What are you doing currently to raise funds for your church plant? What next steps do you need to take?

If you are interested in finding out more about church planting in Western Mass or other places throughout New England, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  




Second Largest City in Massachusetts

Extremely Diverse (61% White; 18% Latino; 14% African American)

Young (Largest Group is Millennials/age14-33 – 70,000)


Social Concerns

Percentage of single mothers is 25% higher than national average

Biggest stressors are the “basics” (adequate housing & food; personal safety)

Half of the city rents their home or apartment


Spiritual Climate

40% - Catholic

4.7% - Evangelical Protestant (Worcester County)

80% - Say they believe in God

90% - Say it is important to preserve traditional American family structure



Church Plants on the Ground (Embark and Church on Seven Hills)

Mercy ministries are valued and well received

Nine College Campuses (Holy Cross, Clark, Worcester Polytechnic, Worcester State, Assumption, Becker, Quinsigamond Community College, Umass Medical, Mass Pharmacy College.

We have a vacant church building that could be refurbished and used for planting off of Southbridge street two blocks from Holy Cross College.

 Interested in being a planter, assisting a planter, or partnering with prayer and resources? Contact us today!