Plan expenses: You will need funding for family and church…utilities for home and church, chairs, song books, office supplies, etc. Most places will require rent to be paid several months in advance. If it is possible, your family may need support to help for the first few years. Some churches will give one-time offerings to help with expenses…other churches will support you monthly for few years. Most pastors understand how hard it is to work a job and start a church.
Promote first service: This can be done through newspaper, TV, doorknockers, area mail outs. Investigate buying a mailing list for a target area. Targeted mailing lists prove to increase response rates. Define your direct mailing list by zip codes, and radius to your church location. www.printplace.com will print postcards, will use your mailing list, address them, and mail them. This is a great way to let people know you’re in the area.
Organize your children’s ministry: As a pastor’s wife, you can be a great asset to your husband by helping him in this area. Except for preaching, this will be one of your most important ministries. Make sure the children’s lessons are interesting and fun. One pastor’s wife said she used a reward system for children being faithful, learning memory verses, and answering questions about the Bible story. Make sure the children’s room looks bright and inviting. Have sign-in sheets ready to record parents and children’s names. This kind of detail will assure parents that you are doing things orderly.
Prepare a bulletin: The pastor’s wife or someone with office skills could help with this. This bulletin should be filled with upcoming events such as youth activities (even if you have no teens), couples activities (even if you have no idea which couples would be there), and a discipleship class that would start on Wednesday (even if you have no idea if anyone would be there, either). You want people to know that you are there to meet their family’s needs.
One church planter said, “Don’t wait until you have teens to have a teen activity—have a teen activity so God will bring the teens in. I still remember when I made the announcement for our very first teen activity. One of the teens asked me, “Pastor, who will be at our activity? The only teens who come to this church are my sister and me.” I said, “There will be teens there.” My heart was pumping extra fast—not because of my faith—but because of my fear that this young man was right. I went with the agenda God gave me, and He blessed us with fifteen teens on our first activity!”
Ideas for your first service
Plan an upbeat service: Sing upbeat hymns and choruses such as What a Mighty God We Serve, Victory in Jesus, Mansion Over the Hilltop. You want your service to be happy and exciting. When I got saved, the best part of the service was singing encouraging hymns that I had never heard. Many people who attend a mega churches where they only sing slow worship songs…sometimes these songs are heavy and sad…these people will visit a church that sings uplifting hymns…they always say, “We have missed singing those songs”.
Present a vision. If someone you know or your husband could prepare a video to show in the first few services to explain why you’re planting this church.
Present the Gospel: One Pastor suggested that the messages should focus simply on the Gospel. I remember when we planted a church in Rhode Island, there were many Catholic churches, and no Baptist church that preached the Gospel.
Be Hospitable: Set up a hospitality area with coffee and cookies. Tell visitors if they would like to meet the pastor, there is an area where he will meet them and give them a gift. If they come to the area, your husband could give them a small gift such as a book, coffee mug, etc.
Be a witness: When you are out in the community, share with others, “My husband is doing a series at our church…share with others what he will be preaching….such as How Your Thinking Affects Your Relationship with God, Balanced Christian Growth, Count It All Joy-Series on Why God Allows Suffering, Series on the book of the John, etc.