Over the past few years I’ve coached dozens of church planters. Although I truly enjoy doing so, I find that I’m constantly amazed how many of them make the same basic mistake, and when they do the church plant stops growing.

The number one mistake church planters make is changing their focus from reaching new people to trying to taking people deeper in their faith. While there is nothing wrong with taking people deeper in their faith, it doesn’t grow a church and increasing the number of people in worship is the first priority of a church planter until the church reaches a sustainable number of people. I think that number is 300-500 hundred in worship. Until that number is reached, the number one responsibility of a church planter is to increase the number of first time people in the pews.

Now I’m sure we all agree that increasing the numbers is never the end goal of a church plant. But in the beginning, when there aren’t enough people to sustain a church and money is tight, focusing of anything other than increasing the number of people is always a mistake.

What I see too often is a church plant reaching 125 in worship and the planter turning his/her attention to developing small groups or bible studies, or worse yet beginning to focus on structure, organization, or polity. None of these grow churches. Even if a pastor is doing small groups, the goal is more to increase participation than to take people deeper.- at least in the begging of a church plant.

The problem of shifting focus from outreach to inreach is so common that we’ve put together 65 ways to reach out to the unchurched. You can find it at http://effectivechurch.com/62-ways-to-connect-with-the-unchurched/

Church planter – never take your eye off of increasing first time guests, but especially when your plant is under 300-500 in worship.