I read Seth Godin's blog everyday. This week, he did a post called "Welcome to Island Marketing" that set-up pretty well one of the things I wanted to share about church planting. You need to read it. And since I live on an Island, it was very fitting. Here's an excerpt below. I inserted ministry terms...
"If you run a business (church ) on a small island, every interaction matters and every person is precious. There's a finite number of people you're going to be able to sell (minister) to, and every person you interact with knows everyone else, so you always have to be on your best behavior. You can't say, "tough" and then go on to the next person. You can't run ads that churn and burn through an endless supply of naive prospects. You only get one chance to make a first impression, and on the island, that impression matters..."
Introducing yourself to your community is a big deal - on or off an island. You get one shot. Sure, you can tweak here and there and change formats and stuff, but the OVERALL impression starts with the 1st thing you do.
As I said earlier, I have been a part of various types of church plants. The church we are a part of now is a church campus plant. Our core campus is 25 minutes away off the Island in Bluffton. They originally started on the Island and then moved off the Island toward the new growth that was happening in Bluffton, and re-branded themselves with a new name -LowCountry Community Church. The DNA of LCC was there and established, but it was our responsibility to transfer that DNA to a different community and new people.
We cooked breakfast at our local middle school for the teachers BEFORE we even had our 1st service. We invited everyone we could to "Meet and Greet" opportunities throughout the summer BEFORE we had our 1st service for people to get to know one another and to share our vision. We did not do a mass mailer to our community. We wanted people to hear of our church through the way we served the community and from people inviting their friends. We wanted our overall first impression to be true to the DNA of LowCountry Community Church - community-focused and people-driven.
You may be planting a church with no help from another church. I have been there. Your resources DO NOT set the bar on the quality of your 1st impression. You can argue with me about that if you want. If you have to chose, do you spend money to do a breakfast for teachers or to mail postcards to invite people to services? Both ideas are awesome and needed, but if resources are limited, what is your DNA? How do you want to brand yourself? I'm not saying one is more important than the other. I have served at churches that would have chosen the mail piece over the breakfast and that fit our DNA. The point is this: you must know your DNA and make sure your first impression reflects it. OK, your turn.