seekers stopped to reflect on a message on the sidewalk

Starting a New Church? Be Different.

by Ryan Gear

One of the biggest reasons many new churches fail:

Blending in.

When people ask you as a church planter what your new church is all about, here’s the wrong answer:

“Well, we wanna worship God authentically with contemporary music, let people dress how they want, care about social justice and make the Bible relevant to everyday life.”

The most visible churches in your town started doing that before the Spice Girls came out. A contemporary church was scandalous… then.

Because they were unique at the time, those churches are now much larger than yours. They worship God with contemporary music better than your church plant’s music. They have more experience preaching than you do, and they even let people dress how they want better than you do.

Now, all of the sudden they’ve started caring about social justice too (or at least making people think they do), so that’s not different anymore either.

They even pretend to be authentic.

In order to survive, your church has to have a reason for existing that makes it different from the other churches around you. This is differentiation.

It’s true that churches are not in competition with each other. There are far too many unreached people. At the same time, if unreached people decide to seek God in a church, they have to be able to see your church in order to show up.

  • Can they see your church?
  • How well does your church stick out in the church landscape of your city?
  • What makes your church different from the other churches that dominate the landscape?
  • What does your church offer your city that current churches don’t?
  • Most importantly, how does your church live out the mission of Jesus in a way that other churches don’t?

Here are 3 questions from a pastor named Adam Hamilton that sum it up nicely. If you’re going to start a new church, you have to be able to answer these 3 questions. If your answer to the last question doesn’t make your church stand out, your church plant won’t make it.

  1. Why do people need Jesus?
  2. Why do people need the Church (worldwide)?
  3. Why do people need this church (the church you’re starting)?

Answer that third question in a way that blows people’s minds in your city… and then every other church will copy you.