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The Benefits of a SWAT (Special, Willing, and Temporary) Team

By New Churches Team

When church planting, the ideal situation is that the launch team consists of a group of people living in the area where the new church will meet. However, there are certain circumstances where this ideal situation does not easily occur. For instance, a Mother Church may plant a Daughter Church that is not in the same city. 

In these situations, where should your launch team come from? Is it okay for your team to serve in a neighborhood in which they don’t actually live? Should you scramble to cast the vision of the church plant and hope people in your area will join? Is there such a thing as a hybrid launch team that is composed of people in the area and people from the Mother Church?

What Is a SWAT Team? 

In Planting Missional Churches, Ed Stetzer and Daniel Im suggest using a SWAT Team, which stands for Special, Willing, and Temporary Team. These SWAT Team members are from the Mother Church and are committed to serve at the Daughter Church for a set time (usually somewhere between a 3-18 month commitment). After their commitment is completed, they will either choose to stay in the Daughter Church to serve or go back to the Mother Church. 

If you choose to use the SWAT Team method, there are a couple considerations to walk through. First, the SWAT Team may live too far away to continually serve in your community. Be conscious of what jobs you assign to these members. Ideally, you would want people who live in the community — or are committed long term to the Daughter Church — to be the ones serving in the more public ministry leader roles (like small group leaders, worship team members, those working with the children, etc.). 

Secondly, you want to ensure that the SWAT Team remembers their temporary nature. A part of their role should be to continually raise people up from the local community to take their place. As Ed Stetzer says, “The SWAT Team must decrease as the local members increase.”

Though it may feel overwhelming to have the SWAT Team continually trickle out, remember that there are benefits of being a launch from a church plant and smaller in size. One benefit is that you can really embed yourself in the community and be incarnational and missional in the neighborhood you are planting in.  

Adapted from the New Churches Q&A Podcast Episode 331: When to Use a SWAT (Special, Willing and Temporary) Team. Click here to subscribe and listen to more church planting, multisite, and multiplication tips.



New Churches Team

NewChurches.com wants to help you build a strong foundation by connecting you with top experts in the field of church planting and multisite ministry, and by regularly providing you with the resources, information, and community you need to thrive as you multiply the mission of Matthew 28.


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