Eight Coaching Points for First-Year Church Planters

By Dr. Matt Kendrick

I wish I could have read this article one year ago! We began planting Redemption City Church in Fort Worth, Texas, one year ago, and I want to share a few things I learned in my first year so that maybe you’ll have less heartburn in your first year.

  1. Keep good records of giving and spending.

First, to be above reproach. Not only do you always need to do the right thing, but there should also be a paper trail of your doing the right thing! Every dollar you or your team spends needs to be tracked and easily explainable. We track giving through Planning Center, and we track spending with Expensify. I cannot recommend those two companies and their products more highly.

  1. Don’t go cheap on marketing.

When it comes to printing signage, banners, invitations and the like, you get what you pay for. Use a reputable company that can help with design and printing. We tried printing some banners at Office Depot and some invitations on Vistaprint, and they all turned out horribly. Using a reputable company will cost more, but it will be worth it.

  1. Take your time on your bylaws.

You don’t need to have the final version of your bylaws right away. Write, pray, get coaching, edit … rinse and repeat! As my coach Russ Barksdale says, “When the devil shows up in your church, he’ll have the bylaws in his hand.” It’s that important. Stay within the bounds of the Scriptures, seek wisdom from other trustworthy pastors, and keep the future in view.

  1. Do not grow weary in fundraising.

Listen, I get it. Another person said they’d come through but didn’t. Another missions pastor said they would help but then ghosted you. It’s OK! Keep making calls and sending reminder texts until the job is done. You’re on assignment from Almighty God, and sufficient financing is crucial. Make another list of prospective givers, and work the list! Every “no” gets you closer to the next “yes.” Keep going!

  1. Get business liability insurance.

We have ours through Guidestone. Business liability insurance doesn’t cost much, but it protects you and your church tremendously.

  1. You don’t need your own 501(c)3 status.

I’m not saying don’t get your own 501(c)3 but that you don’t need it to begin accepting donations for the church. Generally speaking, you can use your sending organization’s 501(c)3 and EIN as needed. For example, our church is sent and supported by the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, so my church could use the SBTC’s 501(c)3 and EIN. I worried a lot about accepting donations before getting 501(c)3 approval from the IRS and even solicited a lawyer’s help. It typically takes about six months to get approved by the IRS, and you need to bring in donations now!

  1. Invite somebody every day.

It’s about reaching people. There are so many things that demand my time and attention. Good things! But if I don’t lead our team to reach new people, this church won’t reach its redemptive potential. Spend time going business to business in your community to introduce yourself. Every person in your neighborhood should know you. Pound the pavement, getting to know people in your community. We’ve found that there’s a three-to-six-month lag time between our inviting someone and that person’s coming to church. Sow seeds today that your church will reap in three to six months.

  1. Church planting is an act of humility.

Asking for money, going over your sermon in your car before a service because there’s nowhere else you can be alone – planting a church provides a lot of opportunities to be humbled! Lean into that aspect. It’s good for your soul and a big reason God has called you to plant. Your humility gets you closer to Jesus. That’s His desire for you. Lean into learning and relearning humility. Let the process of planting a church bring you closer to Jesus.

Dr. Matt Kendrick is Pastor of Redemption City Church in Fort Worth, Texas. Connect with Matt on Instagram @mattkendrick100