Church Planting

More Launch Lessons...

Man! The Launch Conference in NYC this week was incredible. I would give anything to have had this kind of seminar when I launched Rocky River [] seven years ago. I shudder to think how much further along we would be right now.

For those of you are church starters (previously known as planters) be sure to buy the Launch Conference on DVD at

Here are a couple of my BIG learnings.

1. Hope is not a strategy for growing your church. Most guys HOPE their church will grow. But that won’t make it happen. You need a strategy for growth. So, what’s your strategy for growing your church, business, small group, or whatever else you’re leading? It will not grow until the leader puts a strategy behind it.

2. To go to the next level – of anything – you have to start functioning as though you are already there. I think this applies to any organization but I’m sure it does for a church. So, if you want to grow your church to 500 then you have to start operating as though you are already there. That means that not only your Sunday service has to look like you’re ready for 500 people, but you have to BE ready for it. The “look” (technology, etc.) is easy. Additionally, you have to be prepared with greeters, small groups (@ R2C2 we call them Rock Groups), resources, volunteer structure, children’s ministry, staff, etc.

3. The leader has to be prepared to make tough decisions when necessary, as the church is launched and then at every level. This has been a hard lesson for me to learn. But it is true. The leader has to make hard decisions. And the hardest decision to make is when you have to let staff go (fire them). But it is sometimes necessary for future growth. Hold your staff accountable for doing what is needed to keep the ball rolling. If they can’t do it then let them go. Don’t wait!!! Do it now.

If you’d like, you can email me for a more private conversation about this firing thing. Along the way there were staff members that I didn’t fire but should have. And there are others that I waited too long to fire.

I realize this is sensitive, but it is very important. Your church could collapse (organization/business) over this kind of thing.

More later…



Man. I just finished this book and it was AWESOME! If you are a church planter, pastor or any serious Christ Follower who wants to know what it takes to reach a generation of unchurched people, THIS IS A MUST READ.

Let me add this...the 30 pages are worth whatever you pay for the book. If you don't read this, then you are just not serious enough about reaching lost people. And, I'm not saying it changed my life as much as The Purpose Driven Church. But it was close.

Thanks Gary Lamb for cussing at me because I hadn't already read this book!

This is as REAL as it gets...

If you are thinking about planting a church, you need to listen to this message. Church planting is not for sissies. Sorry, but that's just the truth.

Anyway, this is a message my buddy Gary Lamb ( preached this morning at Ridge Stone Church in Canton, GA. I love this guy so much. The best thing about him is that what you see is what you get. He doesn’t pull punches.

This is one of the most honest, real sermons I’ve ever heard. It is worth a listen…

I hope Rocky River folks will take a listen to this too...

Learning To Listen to God

Man. We have some big stuff coming up at Rocky River Community Church. On July 29 we are going to make a couple of really big and important announcements. To say the least, God is moving in our church. And here’s the thing: When God is moving then He is also speaking. I’m not sure if He moves then speaks or speaks and then moves. What I do know is that it is extremely important to listen to God speak. If you are a leader – church planters listen up – there is NO SUBSTITUE FOR LISTENING TO GOD SPEAK – clearly.

Today I am going to kick off a three part blog-series on how to listen to God.

The FIRST thing you have to do to hear God is…
1. Get rid of the distractions. Bill Hybels ( says that when God spoke to Moses He didn’t need to use a “burning bush.” He simply used the burning bush to get Moses’ attention. God was basically saying to him, “Moses, slow down. STOP and LISTEN! Take a rest from your busy schedule. I have something I want to say to you.” Moses did and the rest is history.

Moses was no different than the rest of us in that he was busy. He had the same kinds of noises and distractions in his life as we do. He was worried about his job; he had a wife and kids to take care of. He had a full calendar of activities. He had people to please. He was running in a million different directions. Those things, that stuff, important as they are, were distractions that kept him from hearing from God. So God used the burning bush to make him slow down, step away from the noise and distractions of life, so he could listen to Him.

See, talking with you, helping you understand your purpose and your reason for existing, is very important to God. It’s important to you. But sometimes we let everyday life, and the noise of everyday life, drown out God’s voice. So, sometimes God has to reach out and grab your attention.

Question: Is God trying to speak to you today? What are you missing by not listening to Him? What is it going to take for Him to get your attention?

[How to Listen to God, Part 1]

Learning To Listen to God, Part 2

[Learning to Listen to God, Part 2 of 3]

Yesterday I started a three-part blog about how to learn to listen to God. The idea is that God is speaking – God is moving – God wants us to know what His purpose is for our lives. He wants us to live in the “blessing realm” [sounds charismatic, huh?]. He wants us to have what Jesus says is “abundant life.” But to get there you have to learn how to listen to God.

Thanks Tadd!

There is a cool - cool - guy in Burlington, NC and he has planted an awesome new church. His name is Tadd Grandstaff and the church is Pine Ridge Church ( His launch team went to some of the hottest churches around before launching PRC. And here's what's cool, they didn't just sit back and take a few notes and enjoy being served. These church-planting freaks did interviews and took tons of pictures. Well, Rocky River is doing a kind of re-launch/face-lift/Rocky River 2.0 type thing in September. And the pix he took have been invaluable in helping our staff team with our facelift. Every church planter/pastor out there who is constantly looking for what is cool, current and relevant should check out these pix. Again, some of these churches are among the fastest growing churches in the Southeast.

Go to Click on "churches" under categories and just follow the links.

THANKS for the great work TADD! It has not only paid off for you guys but for R2C2 as well...

Living As Light - Part 4

Last week I started a 4-part blog about how to be light in a dark world. The principles I’m talking about come from Mark 2.1-12 (;&version=51;). This is the story of the friend who carried their paralyzed friend to Jesus. There was a huge crowd trying to get to Jesus. So they cut a hole in the roof so that Jesus could heal their friend. The thrust of what I’m saying is that you have to learn to live positively in a world full of ugliness and meanness. First, you have to care for people. Second, you have to believe that Jesus will “save” them from their sins. Third, you can’t get discouraged – it’s not easy loving a world to Christ. Next…

4. They dared to do something DIFFERENT. As I've already mentioned, the friends of the paralyzed man cut a hole in the roof to get their friends to Jesus. This is the principle of innovation.

Notice what the friends did when they ran into difficulties. “They tried to push through the crowd to Jesus, but they couldn’t reach Him. So they went through the roof…”

Are you willing to go through the roof to reach people for Jesus?

At Rocky River we’ve done some pretty innovative things to reach people over the last six years. There are a number of churches in our area that are doing what they do because we pioneered it. And here’s the deal. A lot of times we’ll have people come over to see why we’re growing and reaching so many people. And after the service is over they say something like, “Okay. We get it. Get rid of the piano. Serve Starbucks coffee. Get rid of the suits and ties. And buy our pastor so flip flops and Bermuda shorts.” They have totally missed what we’re about at Rocky River. All of those things are a part of R2C2 but they come from a church with a heart full of love for people and a willingness to be different and innovative for people that are lost and going to hell.

And for you younger [I’m 39] church planters and leaders out there, listen up. Being different means dealing with criticism. Over the years we/I have taken a lot of criticism from the wolves in sheep’s clothing who pretend to care about people but really don’t. If you’re going to be different you have to ignore the naysayers. Or, you can do like I do and let it motivate you.

The point is that to reach people you have to be different, innovative, spend money, and take risks.

Holy Smokes...!

That's my new phrase here lately when something blows me away...Holy Smokes! Anyway, I just got word on an awesome new website that you have to check out - especially if you are a Worship Leader/Pastor, Lead Pastor, Church Planter, etc. Here it is...

And... this guy (Jason Hatley) is off the hook! I learn from him and endorse him with everything inside of me! I don't know if that means much but for what it is worth. Go there now!

And...for the trivia minded person, does anyone know the name of the first ever Worship Pastor at Rocky River Community Church? Nope, not Chris Tomlin (thank God!). It was Jason Hatley!

My 10 Things...

A few weeks ago Gary Lamb did a post about the top 10 things he wishes he knew when he started Revolution Church. That got me thinking about my own list of things I wish I had known when I started Rocky River Community Church. Here ya go…

1. Not everyone is going to like you, approve of you, care about you, be honest with you, support you, or stay with you.

2. It’s okay to be a church for anyone but not everyone. Open the doors of your church wide so that anyone will feel welcome. But if they all feel comfortable enough to stay around then you are doing something wrong.

3. It’s okay to show people to the door. Sometimes you have to choose who you are going to lose. When people come to your church from another local church you ought to find out immediately why they left. And if they left because their former pastor ticked them off because they didn’t get their way – LET THEM GO NOW! Believe me, they will find something to get mad at you about. Let them go somewhere else and cause trouble. Even if they have a lot of money – AND YOU NEED IT – it will cost you too much in the long run. TRUST ME ON THIS ONE!

Let me be tough here. Pastor, it is your job to invite people to leave. None of us like to see people go but often times you have to do some subtraction so that your church can multiply and grow.

Here’s a warning sign. If they come to you and ask for a copy of the bylaws, that should send up a red flag and flares. They’ve been in a church that taught them how to play power games with the “rules” and you don’t need that. They will give you too many sleepless nights for the wrong reasons.

*Don’t trade wolves for sheep.

4. BE WHO YOU ARE! Garth Brooks tried to make it in Nashville (twice) by being a George Jones and a George Straight poser. At some point, a record producer said to him, “Garth – stop trying to be someone else and be who you are.” I would say that was good advice. It worked out for him and it will work out for you too. Stop trying to be someone else. Hey, you can’t preach like Steven Furtick (Elevation Church). You may use his stuff but you can’t pull that off. You’re not going to be able to lead your staff like Nelson Searcy (Journey He’s a freak of a CEO/Pastor. You can learn his stuff, read the same books and go to his seminars (YOU SHOULD). He has a lot to teach you. But you can’t lead like he does. You can’t be him. I know because I’ve been trying for about 15 years.

My point is, BE YOURSELF! God has called you to be you. I know that sounds old and overused but it is true. You’ll do a much better job at being yourself than trying to be Ed Young, Jr.

5. Don’t try to please/impress your college/seminary professors. I loved my profs in college and seminary. I learned tons from them about everything except how to pastor a church – FORGET starting a new church. They just don’t get it. They don’t! And chances are they are never going to validate what you’re doing. And just in case you’re saying to yourself, “He doesn’t know Dr. So And So…” Yes I do…

6. Small groups are important and they are hard for every church. If you are reaching unchurched people it is hard to get people to buy into the IMPORTANCE of having another network of people in their lives. It’s just hard.

7. You are foolish if you don’t talk about money. DON’T BE AFRAID TO CHALLENGE PEOPLE TO GIVE AND TITHE! And remember, people don’t give to NEEDS they give to VISION.

8. People don’t volunteer to be a solution to your problem. They want to be a part of a winning team that – together – is doing something worthy of their time and energy. There’s a lot competing for their time. It is vital that you constantly cast the vision. If they buy into you AND the vision, they will volunteer. Be sure to tell your success stories along the way. The stories let people see progress – that you are accomplishing your vision and that the people who are participating are making a difference.

9. You have to learn to delegate ASAP! Because I did not delegate I have been the “lid” on our church so many times. Most leaders hesitate to delegate because we don't want to get burned. GET OVER THAT! YOU ARE going to get burned. People are going to let you down. They won’t always follow through. And things might not look like you want them to at times. But you have to stay with it. You have to be a consummate vision caster. You have to keep inviting people to join your work and do things. That’s the tough work of leadership. Over time you not only get more work done – but you get MORE and BETTER work done.

10. Hire and fire. You have to add staff before you need them. You don’t wait until you need a staff person to hire a staff person. Doing it that way only slows your momentum. You staff AHEAD for growth. And when it is time to let a staff member go – fire them. That is always hard. It’s not glamorous. But it is a part of doing the hard work of leadership. If you can’t fire people then I doubt you are called to be a church starter. At minimum, you need someone around you who can make the tough decisions and then carry them out.

Remember, if you wait too long to fire someone that needs to go you are only hurting the church and your leadership influence. If you know he/she needs to go then you can bet that the others (especially other leaders) around you do too. Usually your staff/leaders/key people will recognize when a person needs to go before you will.

And one to grow on…

11. Don’t start your church with bylaws (except what is legally required in your state) or constitutions or any other document (other than the Bible) that might retard your ability to lead your church. Don’t build a system or committee of people that have to approve everything before you do it. You need to have people who can help you think through strategy and budget, etc. And they should be people you hand pick and people you trust. But you don’t need a group of people that don’t fully understand your vision (even though you are constantly trying to help them see it) that put the clamps on your vision.

Websites you should check out:
Rocky River Community Church (
Church Leader Insights (
Gary Lamb and Revolution Church (

For Church Planters And Senior Pastors Only

Hey guys. Go to Perry Noble's blogsite and read this post. This is SO TRUE!

Once you've read Perry's post, go to and get you so world class coaching from Nelson Searcy. YOU CAN'T AFFORD NOT TO DO THIS! SERIOUSLY!

If you have any questions about Nelson Searcy or this tele-coaching network (I've been through four of his networks and I'm trying to get into his advanced coaching network now) just email me at

Be a victor, not a victim. Get a coach and take your ministry to the next level!

Jimmy Britt, Lead Pastor