Every planter needs an oversight team

Unless you are planting with a leadership team a in place that has experienced elders who know the challenges and peculiarities of a new church, you’ll want to put together a temporary governance team who can serve as your board during the first 2-5 years of your plant. I will soon be releasing an e-book that will detail what this team does and how to put one together, but basically, you want a team of 3-6 leaders outside your church who will meet once a month to overview the finances, consider large decisions, approve large expenses, and most importantly, hear from you so they can adequately care for you and your family. When compiling this team, consider other local planters, multiplying church pastors (who know church planting), financial “wizards,” or some of your own sending church’s elders or pastors.

You need a supportive team in your corner.

It is not impossible for a planter to plant a church in isolation, but it is certainly not recommended. You are much better off planting with the support of a sending church or churches. If you build an oversight team made up of leaders from your sending church(es), you have a team that will support you when you run into problems, which are bound to occur. When you need to make big decisions, you have a team around you “signing off” on these decisions. Don’t underestimate the importance of having checks and balances and having a team that has your back in the tough times and with big decisions.

 

You need governance for the first years while you develop leaders.

The Apostle Paul instructs Timothy to “…let [deacons] also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless.” (1 Timothy 3:10) With regards to developing new elders, Paul also warns that “He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.” (1 Timothy 3:6) While starting a church with servants, other leaders, and a team is certainly recommended, Paul is concerned that church leaders are not quickly deemed as “leader.” In a new church plant, there is a temptation to quickly appoint elders and deacons. The problem in doing this is that not only is a new church often made up of young believers, but the church itself has a unique calling and values that may differ from the members’ previous churches. It takes time for these values to become the values of the members, and it takes time for new believers to become mature enough disciples that they can lead the church effectively. Some of the greatest mistakes a planter can make come from appointing leaders too soon. It is wise to delay appointing these offices until your leaders are adequately developed. This typically takes a new church 3-5 years. In the mean time, a planter should build and lead an oversight team to serve as governance for the new church.

It’s unwise to make financial & big decisions on your own or with green leaders.

Planters who lead in isolation often struggle in one of two areas. Either they worry their financial or large decisions will be in question due to a lack of accountability (e.g. Why do you make as much money as you make?), or they can end up leading without accountability and leave themselves vulnerable to temptation. Planter, you are not above either one of these. If you lead in isolation, one or the other is bound to happen – people pleasing or moral failure. If you have an oversight team that is helping you wisely make your decisions and serves as financial accountability, there is less of a chance of this happening.

 

It allows you to focus on mission rather than administration.

One of the reasons I recommend oversight for planters is because it will allow them to focus on the work of gathering, discipling, prayer, and evangelism in the early years of the plant. Planters who plant in isolation can become distracted with incorporation, bylaws, accounting, etc. Your sending church can handle your bookkeeping, eliminating a huge expense, and your oversight team serves as your official board. During the first few years of planting, sending churches usually acquire a DBA (doing business as) for their church plant so it can simply fall under the umbrella of their 501c3 status. They can provide monthly financial reports, and your oversight team can help counsel you as a financial advisory team. Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it?

 

Working with your sending church promotes Kingdom values.

The bottom line is, we can do more together than in isolation. More and more, churches are working together to plant more churches all over the United States. Developing an oversight team brings churches together around a common mission.

 

It is a way to disciple your sending church.

One of the proven benefits of sending a church planter is that the sending church learns a lot about reaching culture. As you work with your oversight team, you are not only receiving their care and accountability, but you are also helping influence them by the creativity, resourcefulness, and contextualization that is required to plant a new church. There are countless stories of struggling churches that had lost their sense of mission and were able to be revitalized through the process of planting a new church. The idea of revitalizing a stagnant church by sending out their best to plant another church in the community may seem counterintuitive, but God uses new churches to strengthen the entire Church. As your oversight team works with you, they are learning best practices that will help future planters that they send out.

 

They more adequately care for your family during the tough years.

For a number of reasons, years 2-3 are notoriously challenging for most church planters. During these challenging seasons of a new church plant, the planters and their families commonly experience frustration, loneliness, depression, feelings of loss or failure. When setting out to start a church, or during the first “honeymoon” year, nobody anticipates that things will get as tough as they almost always do. You need a team around you who is not only concerned for the financial well-being of the church, but also for the emotional and spiritual well-being of you and your family. Oversight teams that are effective not only give good counsel and governance for the day-to-day business operations of the church, but more importantly, they deal with the planter and his family out of a generous, caring, and loving heart. They know, maybe even more so than the planter, that the work of starting a church is tough, and that the planter and his spouse will need the occasional weekend trip, grocery basket, dinner out, baby sitting, or encouraging note. Oversight teams know that when a planter is sent out, he is on the front lines of the spiritual battle, so they pray fervently for the planting family.

 

Accountability is for your sake, and your church’s peace of mind.

It is always good to demonstrate to your church that you are accountable to someone. In the early months of a new church, often the only leader in the church is the planter. Especially with a younger church planter, people who may be involved with your church will feel more confident if they know the planter has submitted himself to some other authority. When giving financial updates to the church, the planter can confidently defer to the oversight team as having approved the budget and expenses, so there is not a perception that the planter is some sort of rogue leader with a blank check.

 

Every planter needs an oversight team

Unless you are planting with a leadership team a in place that has experienced elders who know the challenges and peculiarities of a new church, you’ll want to put together a temporary governance team who can serve as your board during the first 2-5 years of your plant. I will soon be releasing an e-book that will detail what this team does and how to put one together, but basically, you want a team of 3-6 leaders outside your church who will meet once a month to overview the finances, consider large decisions, approve large expenses, and most importantly, hear from you so they can adequately care for you and your family. When compiling this team, consider other local planters, multiplying church pastors (who know church planting), financial “wizards,” or some of your own sending church’s elders or pastors.

 

You need a supportive team in your corner.

It is not impossible for a planter to plant a church in isolation, but it is certainly not recommended. You are much better off planting with the support of a sending church or churches. If you build an oversight team made up of leaders from your sending church(es), you have a team that will support you when you run into problems, which are bound to occur. When you need to make big decisions, you have a team around you “signing off” on these decisions. Don’t underestimate the importance of having checks and balances and having a team that has your back in the tough times and with big decisions.

 

You need governance for the first years while you develop leaders.

The Apostle Paul instructs Timothy to “…let [deacons] also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless.” (1 Timothy 3:10) With regards to developing new elders, Paul also warns that “He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.” (1 Timothy 3:6) While starting a church with servants, other leaders, and a team is certainly recommended, Paul is concerned that church leaders are not quickly deemed as “leader.” In a new church plant, there is a temptation to quickly appoint elders and deacons. The problem in doing this is that not only is a new church often made up of young believers, but the church itself has a unique calling and values that may differ from the members’ previous churches. It takes time for these values to become the values of the members, and it takes time for new believers to become mature enough disciples that they can lead the church effectively. Some of the greatest mistakes a planter can make come from appointing leaders too soon. It is wise to delay appointing these offices until your leaders are adequately developed. This typically takes a new church 3-5 years. In the mean time, a planter should build and lead an oversight team to serve as governance for the new church.

 

It’s unwise to make financial & big decisions on your own or with green leaders.

Planters who lead in isolation often struggle in one of two areas. Either they worry their financial or large decisions will be in question due to a lack of accountability (e.g. Why do you make as much money as you make?), or they can end up leading without accountability and leave themselves vulnerable to temptation. Planter, you are not above either one of these. If you lead in isolation, one or the other is bound to happen – people pleasing or moral failure. If you have an oversight team that is helping you wisely make your decisions and serves as financial accountability, there is less of a chance of this happening.

 

It allows you to focus on mission rather than administration.

One of the reasons I recommend oversight for planters is because it will allow them to focus on the work of gathering, discipling, prayer, and evangelism in the early years of the plant. Planters who plant in isolation can become distracted with incorporation, bylaws, accounting, etc. Your sending church can handle your bookkeeping, eliminating a huge expense, and your oversight team serves as your official board. During the first few years of planting, sending churches usually acquire a DBA (doing business as) for their church plant so it can simply fall under the umbrella of their 501c3 status. They can provide monthly financial reports, and your oversight team can help counsel you as a financial advisory team. Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it?

 

Working with your sending church promotes Kingdom values.

The bottom line is, we can do more together than in isolation. More and more, churches are working together to plant more churches all over the United States. Developing an oversight team brings churches together around a common mission.

 

It is a way to disciple your sending church.

One of the proven benefits of sending a church planter is that the sending church learns a lot about reaching culture. As you work with your oversight team, you are not only receiving their care and accountability, but you are also helping influence them by the creativity, resourcefulness, and contextualization that is required to plant a new church. There are countless stories of struggling churches that had lost their sense of mission and were able to be revitalized through the process of planting a new church. The idea of revitalizing a stagnant church by sending out their best to plant another church in the community may seem counterintuitive, but God uses new churches to strengthen the entire Church. As your oversight team works with you, they are learning best practices that will help future planters that they send out.

They more adequately care for your family during the tough years.

For a number of reasons, years 2-3 are notoriously challenging for most church planters. During these challenging seasons of a new church plant, the planters and their families commonly experience frustration, loneliness, depression, feelings of loss or failure. When setting out to start a church, or during the first “honeymoon” year, nobody anticipates that things will get as tough as they almost always do. You need a team around you who is not only concerned for the financial well-being of the church, but also for the emotional and spiritual well-being of you and your family. Oversight teams that are effective not only give good counsel and governance for the day-to-day business operations of the church, but more importantly, they deal with the planter and his family out of a generous, caring, and loving heart. They know, maybe even more so than the planter, that the work of starting a church is tough, and that the planter and his spouse will need the occasional weekend trip, grocery basket, dinner out, baby sitting, or encouraging note. Oversight teams know that when a planter is sent out, he is on the front lines of the spiritual battle, so they pray fervently for the planting family.

Accountability is for your sake, and your church’s peace of mind.

It is always good to demonstrate to your church that you are accountable to someone. In the early months of a new church, often the only leader in the church is the planter. Especially with a younger church planter, people who may be involved with your church will feel more confident if they know the planter has submitted himself to some other authority. When giving financial updates to the church, the planter can confidently defer to the oversight team as having approved the budget and expenses, so there is not a perception that the planter is some sort of rogue leader with a blank check.