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November 19, 2015

Fail Proofing Church Planting Start-Ups

By Daniel Im

Every month, Plus Members get video enhanced training from Ministry Grid on topics like leadership, ministry systems, residencies, multiplication, church planting, and multisite. This month, Greg Surratt, founding pastor of Seacoast Church and President of the ARC (Association of Related Churches), shares the introductory philosophy, values, and principles that his organization thinks are important to effective church planting.

*Plus Members can watch this entire Video Training by logging in and clicking here.

[sh]ARC Tank: Fail Proofing Church Planting Start-Ups

Have you ever watched the hit reality TV show Shark Tank? To be honest, I like the show for various reasons. First, because I am entrepreneurial, I like to see the different business ideas. Second, I like to hear the mission and vision behind the businesses and how a person (or team) portrays, sells, and markets their vision. Third, I like watching the exchanges between the shark(s) and the investment seeker. Here I observe whether or not the investment seeker has the information the shark(s) are seeking and the ability to exuberate confidence while making decisive and wise deals.

Obviously, the viewing audience waits with anticipation to see whether or not the investment seeker(s) will receive a deal. For me, more times than not, I can tell whether or not an offer will be made and a deal will be struck. You see, the entrepreneurs that are successful with the sharks enter the Tank with a product that people want, a passion and understanding about their mission and vision, a track record of sales, a handle on their history and fiscal data, and a laser focus on where they are going. These things communicate to the shark that the entrepreneur has done enough work to fail proof the business and to ensure that he or she and their business are a solid, safe, and secure investment.

Greg Surratt has a desire to fail proof start-ups (given that many fail) and to set them up for success as they traverse the tanks of an antagonistic cultural milieu and spiritual battlefield.

In this video for Plus Members, he outlines what he and ARC call church planting 1.0—eight values that they teach planters to help fail-proof church plant starts-ups. Let me share three of them with you.

1. Winning the spiritual battle in the quiet times of prayer

The reality for believers, especially leaders, is that spiritual battles are won in the warrior’s prayer closet way before the event occurs on the battlefield. Greg and ARC seek to engrain this theological understanding into the hearts and minds of their planters. In short, winning the spiritual war takes place in the prayer closet.

2. Building margin in the budget

One of the main reasons why start-ups fail, both in business and in the church, is a lack of funding. Why do you think entrepreneurs go on Shark Tank? They are seeking more money to fund their dream. While church planting does not revolve around the glory of finances, but the glory of God, the acceleration or deceleration of church planting can be tied to fiscal vitality. For Greg and ARC, they coach planters to build margin within their budget by constructing their budget on 90% of what they took in the prior year. In other words, if a church plant took in $150,000 in 2015, their 2016 budget would be $135,000.

3. Creating services that unchurched people love to attend

Greg and ARC are unashamedly attractional in their approach to reaching the unchurched. They coach individuals to create environments that unchurched people want to come back to. Understanding there are some who would have some concerns with attractional elements, Greg believes an attractional model (and method) can be used to make missional believers.

Just as no one goes into the Shark Tank expecting to get rejected, no one enters into church planting expecting to fail. But, the truth is church plants flop and church planters fail. That’s why I’m grateful for people like Greg Surratt and the ARC. Through church planting 1.0 they seek to fail proof church planters by equipping them theologically, practically, methodologically, and structurally to be ready to face the cultural sharks that can easily devour the inexperienced and ill-equipped church planter.

To find out the other five keys from Greg and ARC, you can view the video in its entirety here. This video is part of Plus Membership, so to get full access to it, and much more, I encourage you to become a Plus Member. Click here to see all the benefits of becoming a Plus Member. Also, if you are thinking about church planting and are shopping around for a church planting network to partner with, I encourage you to check out the ARC.


  • An attractional model can be used to make missional believers
  • Church planting does not revolve around the glory of finances, but the glory of God
  • The acceleration or deceleration of church planting can be tied to fiscal vitality
  • Spiritual battles are won in the warrior’s prayer closet way before the event occurs on the battlefield
  • Winning the spiritual war takes place in the prayer closet of the warrior



Daniel Im

Daniel Im (@danielsangi) is the Senior Associate Pastor of Beulah Alliance Church, a multiplying multisite church focused on reaching 1% of Edmonton for Christ. His latest book is You Are What You Do: And Six Other Lies about Work, Life, and Love. He is also the author of No Silver Bullets and co-author of Planting Missional Churches. He co-hosts the New Churches Q&A Podcast, as well as the IMbetween Podcast. He has an M.A. in Global Leadership and has served and pastored in church plants and multisite churches ranging from 100 people to 50,000 people in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Korea, Edmonton, and Nashville. Because of their love for the local church, after pioneering and leading the church multiplication initiative for LifeWay, Daniel and his wife, Christina, moved back to Canada with their three children. For more information, visit danielim.com and follow him on social media @danielsangi.


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