To identify a clear vision and strategy for launching the Covenant Church in Bossier City.
To identify detailed actions required to achieve this vision and to yield a high impact, high quality startup at minimum cost. The plan is intended to be flexible and adaptable as God leads us, and is not intended to be a fixed, unchanging document.
To provide a clear and concise written plan that will enable participants in the project to understand their roles and responsibilities in support of the vision. This plan is intended to be a guide that empowers, energizes, and aligns participants in joyful service.
To provide a clear set of expectations to which the Covenant Church Leadership Team and other partners can assess and monitor the progress and effectiveness of this project. The plan identifies specific measureable expectations.
Why "Covenant Church"?
The word covenant has significant meaning. In short, it describes God's relationship with people. Since the very creation of the world, God has used a unique pattern of relationship called a "covenant." The Hebrew form of the word is used nearly 300 times in the Bible. In its simplest form, a covenant is an all-encompassing agreement between two parties with clearly outlined perimeters and promises.
Covenant church will emphasize this in two distinct ways:
By honoring our covenant with God through worship and obedience
A Covenant Partnership is more than attendance and more than membership. We will partner together to live out our faith in visible ways. We will be serious about sanctification, adamant about discipleship, and passionate about the gospel. Together, we hope to reach the city and not just plant a church (see Appendix 1 for a sample Covenant).
God has created within us a desire to see Covenant Church planted in Bossier City and surrounding areas. In response to God’s calling, the leadership of Covenant Church is committed to starting in the fall of 2010.
Covenant Church has adopted a muti-faceted church planting strategy. One dimension of this strategy is to plant the church in one of the fastest growing regions of North Louisiana. Under this model, proven practices from existing church models are adopted and used. Resources, including staff, facilities and equipment are shared from supporting churches. The result can be a higher quality launch that reaches more people in a cost effective way.
While understanding that the Covenant Church will naturally attract people in a similar life stage of the leadership, our target audience will be determined by one’s religious experiences rather than their age, income, or ethnicity. We are aware that 30-40% of 18-29 year olds have no religion, compared to 5-10% in the previous generation. The following is a list of indicators of a potential target:
· Has never or rarely attended church throughout their life
· Has bitterness towards religion and/or God due to a bad church experience
· Christian skeptics
See Appendix 2 for more details on Target including a demographic study
III. The DNA of Covenant Church
Every church has it’s own unique identity, a DNA. Our philosophy of ministry begins with our theology and plays out through our practices. Our understanding of God and scripture shapes our philosophy of ministry. The philosophy shapes how the local church functions.
At Covenant Church, we desire an incarnational model of ministry rather than an attractional model. Instead of ministering on the basis of people coming to us, we prefer to take ministry to the people. Our focus is on depth rather than width.
Our philosophy has led us to the conclusion that the church is not made up of a building or a weekly gathering of people, but by being the body of Christ through sharing life together. We desire to create a diverse culture of small groups with the understanding of our inability to do life alone.
Covenant Church exists to glorify God through lives being changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The vision for Covenant Church is to have our four Core Values expressed through our members lives and extended to our community.
Core Values Authentic Community - Our desire is that we would be sensitive to the needs of others, have relationships built on openness, accountability, spiritual growth and intentional transparency. This type of community is seen in the life of Jesus as well as the early church as they did life together. E.g. Small Groups, Helps Ministry. (Acts 2:42)
Christian Spirituality - Our objective is to know the Truth and represent it in life and practice. Both the church and our lives should be shaped not by experience but by the divine Word of God. E.g. accountability, mentoring, church discipline. (John 14:15, I John 2:3-6)
Do/ Love/ Serve/ Mercy – Not only serving our church but extending that service to our community. We believe that you are more like Jesus when you are serving. Our prayer is to see as He sees and to love how He loves. E.g. service projects, community events, justice causes.
Missional Living - It is our intention to allow the Scriptures to guide our understanding and involvement in the mission of God. We seek to discover what accomplishing the great commission in today’s culture looks like, hoping to engage the lost with the beauty and power of the gospel both locally and globally. We believe that where we work, learn, play, and live are not by chance but by the will of God. We seek to be an intentional witness in every aspect of life.
The Baptist Faith and Message (2000) Visit http://www.sbc.net/BFM/ to view the full Baptist Faith and Message.
IV. Governing Principles and Considerations
Throughout the Covenant Church, the following principles and considerations will help guide and influence our planning and decision-making:
Prayer: We recognize the power and absolute necessity of seeking God’s direction at every stage of this process. Proverbs 16:9 says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” We will make prayer a priority. Prayer is a direct line to the Father and we realize that prayer must be a priority for our Church as well as our personal lives.
God’s Provision: We trust and believe that God will do immeasurably more in the greater Shreveport/Bossier area of Louisiana than we could ever ask or imagine. Our commitment is to put our trust and faith in God alone and not in our planning and efforts. Our focus is to help build people and rely on God to build the church.
Our Purpose: Research has shown that Church Planting provides one of the most effective means of reaching the lost. In all of our planning and strategic alignment, we will stay focused on our purpose to glorify God through lives being changed by the Gospel. Additionally, we will strive to help all of our people at the Covenant Church to value and appreciate the importance of church planting, and to experience first hand the excitement of seeing God at work doing miraculous things.
Faith: A new church launch challenges us to step out in faith beyond our current comfort levels. God’s blessing and provision in our lives and in our individual ministries have been abundant. In response, we need to take big steps of faith. In Matthew 25: 14-30, Jesus told the parable of the talents. The servants who were entrusted with much were faithful and thus were blessed with even more. We recognize God’s blessing on the Covenant Church and we will strive to be faithful with the abundance He has poured out on us.
Relationships: Establishing, building and nurturing relationships with God, with one another, and with the community will take priority in all we do. We are committed to love each other (1 Corinthians 13), not to a product or process.
Planning: Planning is the means to an end, not the end. We will always seek first to be lead by God without being constrained by our plans. We will use planning as a tool to help us join God in what He is doing and to accomplish what He is calling us to do. Planning will help us coordinate our limited resources to move us from where we are to where God wants us to be. Our plans will serve as a guide to help focus our efforts and will be updated to reflect where God is leading us.
V. Executive Summary
At the first preview service, October 17, 2010, approximately 50 volunteers from partnering churches will be in place to assist our launch team in facilitating the preview service. After 3 preview services, a launch team of 75-100 people will be actively participating in the vision and ministry outreach of the church. This number will increase each preview as the Launch Team members are recruited and trained. The development and growth of the Launch Team is considered vital to a successful launch. From this group, future leaders will be developed, ministry teams will be filled, and a strong and active small group ministry will emerge. Considerable effort will be applied throughout the preview service stage, in training, nurturing, and growing this Launch team.
The Leadership team of the Covenant Church will consist of full-time, part-time and volunteer staff. Key lay people will also give strategic leadership and systems development to support the vision from a volunteer status.
The Covenant Church is expected to be fully self-supporting within three years after launch. During these three years, there will be a slow transition of dependence upon outside resources toward internal resources generated through member’s tithes and offerings.
A goal of the launch plan is to establish attendance and critical mass by leveraging strengths, resources, and existing practices of The Covenant Church. People will be drawn to The Covenant Church through one-on-one relationships with members.
VI. Roles and Responsibilities of Individuals, Support Teams, and Partners
The successful launch requires that numerous individuals and groups work together for the common good of the project. This section identifies these individuals and groups, including a brief description of their responsibilities.
Lead Teaching Pastor: This Pastor’s primary responsibility is to lead as the Biblical “Shepherd” of the church. He will oversee a “Team Led” staff that will support and effectively live out the model and desires of the Covenant Church. Doing this will give people the ability to become equippers versus doers.
Creative Arts Pastor: this Pastor will oversee the element of communicating the vision, the message, and the heart of the Covenant Church. Through creative venues and marketing strategies he will help us effectively reach people in creative ways. Worship and multi-media will fall under his umbrella of leadership.
Logistics and Family Pastor: this Pastor will be responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations and performance. These responsibilities include long and short term planning, training volunteers for effective service and quality, efficiency and effectiveness of operations. He will also oversee adolescent development in regards to Children’s and a future Student Ministry. He will counsel and support The Covenant Church in implementing the Launch Plan.
Community Pastor: This Pastor will serve The Covenant Church by implementing the steps to becoming a true Biblical community within the church through the means of small groups and family events. As we seek to be incarnational, he will also provide venues of love and service to our “physical” community as we hope to show them the love and beauty of Christ and his gospel.
Children’s Ministry Leader: With young families being a primary target, this role will be critical in the success of the church start. Young families desire effective structure for their children, which will be provided through Biblical curriculum in a creative age appropriate manner.
Prayer Team: A prayer team made up of not only the Covenant Church members and staff, but outside partners as well, is vital to the success of this launch. A Prayer team Leader will be sought to help build the team and communicate prayer needs on a regular basis to them.
VIII. Opening Day
What will the new church look like on opening day? A very important question that shapes what we do between now and opening day! It was intended to proactively guide our planning to achieve more than we would otherwise. By defining a target for what we are shooting for (opening day) understanding where we are today and putting together a plan for getting there, we will have a better chance of reaching our goals.
The new church will start its first core group gatherings on August 15, 2010. The church’s first preview service will be Sunday, October 17, 2010. Follow up previews services will be held on November 14, December 12, and then weekly services begin January 9, 2011.
The look and feel of the venue on Opening Day will include these elements:
Signage: Upon entering the venue parking lot, attendees will have ample signs to direct them to the worship gathering and Children’s area for the launch. Signs will clearly mark the main entrance into the facility.
Greeters: These volunteers will be the first people that attendees see when coming to the Covenant Church. Their role will be critical in setting the climate for the experience of everyone attending. We will have greeters strategically placed in the following areas: parking lot, front door, guest area, children's area, etc...
Worship Experience: The Worship experience will be refreshing and casual. Our worship through music will be creative, engaging and reflective. The teaching is expository, conversational, authentic and activistic. The focus will always be on God; who He is and what He has done, is doing, and what is next. Services will last approximately one hour and will consist of: 25 minutes of preaching; 25 minutes of music and multi-media; 10 minutes of welcome, information, offering and ordinances when appropriate.
Kids Stuff: We will provide a place where our kids are safe and protected. They will be actively and creatively engaged and challenged to live out what they learn.
Next Steps/ Information: We want all attendees to easily understand what their next step in the church could include. Our goal is to help them connect to our church, feel welcome, and easily understand their next steps. Special techniques to connect visitors at launch include sending a letter to each visitor, calling each visitor to welcome them and to see if they have any questions, to specifically invite newcomers to take the next step (small groups, prologue, outreach, service teams, etc).
Marketing Plan: The purpose of our marketing is to start and foster relationships with unconnected people. We also feel that as our core group and launch team begin to embrace and live out our core values within their circles of influence, the name of Christ and His gospel will become more famous. The best way to feed the hungry is not to advertise where the bread is, but to actually feed hungry people and they will in turn tell others.
IX. Outreach Strategy-
Our one and only strategy for evangelistic outreach is Relational Evangelism.
Each member of the church will be encouraged to prepare a list of lost and unchurched friends that they are praying for, witnessing to and inviting. We will teach simple and effective witnessing tools to our core group and launch team in our initial meetings. Ultimately, our goal in relational evangelism will be both intentional and organic. Throughout our normal patterns of life, we should pay attention to people around us, learn their names, invest in their lives, share our story, and share the gospel.
To reinforce that strategy will have ongoing techniques (at least monthly):
· Member emailing lists
· Stationary with church logo and name (on going use)
· Adopt a local cause/ charity
· New members program (send welcome letter and cards)
· Word of mouth (community networking-launch team constantly inviting friends)
· Brochures (new church brochure that can be used as a first touch for visitors)
· Invite cards
· Social Networking Sites (Twitter, Facebook, Blogging)
· Portable outdoor signs (at least 5 large A-frame or real estate type signs)
· Participation in local community and civic events
· Posters (used on case basis for grand opening)
· Media with church information
Community Networking: The purpose of the Covenant Church’s community networking plan is to foster relationships with community and civic leaders in our target area. These relationships are expected to open up additional outreach and marketing opportunities and to enhance our strategy to establish broad name recognition in the community. e.g. Schools, community organizations, sports leagues, etc...
The following organizations will be targeted:
· Real estate brokers (possible partnership with monthly newcomer seminar)
· Other churches
· Civic organizations and clubs
· Sports Leagues (youth and adults)
X. Planting Timeline
The following timeline provides major benchmarks for the launch process.