I’ve been reading startup literature recently which brought my attention to Steve Blank, serial entrepreneur, author, and teacher of all things startup.  He posted a blog today on the 9 Deadliest Start-up Sins.  Each is a temptation for Church Planters to avoid.


1. Assuming you know what the customer wants

Contrary to your personal conviction, there are not thousands of people in your chosen location just waiting to come hear you speak. In fact, recent research suggests the thing you should count on is not enthusiasm for your new church but apathy.


2. The “I know what features to build” flaw

Since you know what people want, you also know what to provide.  Ed Stetzer has great advice here:

“Don’t plant or pastor a church in your head. Plant or pastor a church in your community. That’s where the Gospel transforms real people who are living real lives. Know and live in your culture, not someone else’s. Don’t just bring a model, bring the Gospel. Lead a church; don’t lead a plan.”


3. Focusing on the launch date

Focus on a launch date shifts attention away from the more important tasks of church planting – and creates a false view of success when the launch is achieved.


4. Emphasizing execution instead of testing, learning, and iteration

Execution is needed, but only if and when you know the right things to do.  The good news doesn’t change.  Where, when, how and to whom you communicate it, will.   Start with learning the right things to do.


5. Writing a business plan that doesn’t allow for trial and error

This doesn’t mean you should go without a plan.  (That should probably be the 10th deadly sin). Your plan needs what someone recently described to me as “structured flexibility.” Why?  At some point in the process your plan will not work.  Executing the plan better won’t work.  You must learn and adapt.  The better and faster you do that, the sooner you will find effective ways to reach more people and make better disciples.


6. Confusing traditional job titles with a startup’s needs

Who are the key people on your church planting team?  Worship Leader? Children’s Director? Small Group Director?  That assumes your community needs high quality music, children’s programs and small groups.  What if what your community needs instead is a Recovery Director,  Business Liaison, or Sports Coordinator?


7. Executing on a sales and marketing plan

Buy billboards.  Friend people on Facebook.  Mail postcards. Record radio spots.  All potentially valuable – only after you know with whom you are communicating, and why they might listen to you.


8. Prematurely scaling your company based on a presumption of success

There are far more church planters bootstrapping than spending large budgets.  Even bootstrappers can be tempted to overextend when a crowd shows up for their launch.  A bigger meeting place and more staff can be essential to sustaining healthy growth.  They can also drown a new church in bills they can’t pay when commitments have been made prematurely.


9. Management by crisis, which leads to a death spiral

Any experience church planter will tell you, the crisis will come.  The question is, how will you handle them?  Will you let each new crisis shift your focus and re-shape your vision? or will you faithfully love and serve people with a message of hope until God reveals a path to fruitfulness?


As a church planter, are you prepared to navigate the pitfalls of models and plans and faithfully implement a process of discovering and creating the church God would use to reach the people and place he has called you?