3 Ways to Know Your Church is Ready to Start a New Service

by Cathy Townley

So you're considering starting a new service! Reality check: is your church ready? You’re probably worried that you’re not. You think:  

"Our people will never go along with it;

"We don’t have a hot band or a cool venue;  

"It's going to cost too much money."

You'd better sit down. Wait for it…  

Not one of those concerns disqualifies you. Of course, money is always an issue and  you do have to count the cost when taking on a new project like this. But in the early stage of new service development, it doesn’t cost you much, unless you have to hire someone to lead the project. If you are under 100 in worship, that is probably not going to happen. If you are over 100, you likely can muster the resources. The other things you’re worried about are hurdles that you can get past… but only if you have a leader.  

That's the question you should be asking: Is our leader ready? Even if you’re planning to hire, appoint or raise up a leader for your project, the senior leader still has to be ready for what it takes to start a new service to reach new people. A successful worship startup process is built around making new disciples. And church people don’t make new disciples if their leader doesn’t. That principle goes all the way to the top!  

So let’s examine the heart of the leader to see if you’re ready, or not. 

1. You’re yearning to share your gratitude.  

The startup process is hard! There is a sequence to follow, and if you don’t follow it, you won’t succeed. And the sequence is demanding, so you’re going to be tempted to quit… a lot! One thing will keep you going: your desire to tell others about Jesus. You can learn how to do that; the startup process teaches you!  

It's easier to learn how to tell others about Jesus when you’re grateful. Then two things happen:  

You want to tell others about it so that they can have the same joy 

You are motivated to keep going through the ups and downs of startup Personally, I am never going back to the way my life was before I knew Jesus. And I long for others in my life to know the same love I have found. It’s the purpose God taps into that keeps me going in my ministry.  

After COVID, my ministry slowed down… so much that I thought I was done! That was ok! I focused on physical fitness; lost a lot of weight! And I got much more serious about my golf game. I’ve improved… though I’m not going on the senior tour any time soon…

And then, all of a sudden, God brought me several new clients, all in one week! And all of them wanting to start a new service, which is my ministry wheelhouse and focus. God tapped me on the shoulder and said, "You’re not done yet." God still has a plan that I didn’t know about and that I can either agree to, or turn down. I’m agreeing to it, because it’s my purpose, which drives me past tempting t-times when I need to focus.  

Isn't it ironic? The thing that causes challenges for new start worship also brings us through the challenges. Learning to share faith is a steep learning curve for pastors and their followers both. Also, it’s a big commitment to always be willing to share the gospel with someone. Simultaneously, God created us for this purpose.

There's no reason more enduring to start a new service than to learn to be you. So dig deep. If you’re grateful and you want to share your gratitude, you’re ready for more new service talk.  

2. You have an inkling about who to reach out to. 

A pastor I coach said to me about people he has observed in a coffee shop he frequents, “I keep wondering who is going to tell them about Jesus.” What he meant is that he wants to be the one to do that — he and his people. He runs past the shop and prays, he goes in to buy coffee and prays, he keeps seeing people he has a heart for and prays… 

It’s called targeting, and church people disdain the idea of it. People in seats and their leaders somehow think that if they say, “We’re doing things this way to reach this group,” they are not being Christian. Most churches that worry about focusing outreach efforts have grown homogenous, and they’ve never targeted. Yet they want to grow younger and more diverse. That doesn’t happen without making some focused decisions about who God is actually leading you to. Growing a heart for new people is God tapping you on the shoulder… 

Do you have an inkling? If so, it’s time to pursue it! Do you want to have an inkling? Ask God to lead you into the mission field. God will never turn down that bold request! You can:

• Go on a prayer walk, or a prayer drive. 

• Go sit at a coffee shop, or a gas station; go to the gym.  

• Drink your coffee, hang out with the locals, do your workout.  

And then pray without ceasing the whole time you’re out there doing stuff. Psst: don’t pray out loud; that would be weird … But do pray silently as you’re doing other things. It’s a biblical phenomenon to pray without ceasing! Ask God to engage others with you in conversations about faith, even as you’re talking to them. God’s gonna accommodate your request; so be ready!

3. You have others in mind to walk the road with you. 

You need laypersons to start a new service. You will be reaching a lot of new people, but initially, it’s helpful if you have some members and friends who want to take a next step forward in faith. Starting a new service to reach new people is that step of becoming a disciple who make disciples.

Stop for a minute: are people coming to mind for you as you’re reading these words? Write down their names… then pray over the list; and then pray some more… But don’t talk to anyone… yet. It’s not so easy to read an article and now suddenly you  now just when to make the ask! There’s a sequence of:  

Knowing your target.

Speaking publicly about your work in the mission field, like in a sermon.

• Talking to individual board members and lay leaders about what you’re thinking.

• Engaging people to go with you to see the harvest.

Asking them to take another step forward in their own discipleship process.

A lot can go wrong in this timeline without deeper awareness of the pitfalls. You are going to need a coach, which is an immediate cost. As noted, counting the cost is important. So count the cost if you do go forward with this project. And then count the cost if you don’t. When you realize it’s way to expensive to not move forward, you’re ready, set— go!