Interview with a Church Planter: David Payne

January 12, 2009 by

This is the final installment of a series where Church Marketing Sucks discusses marketing with successful church planters. Part 1 featured Pete Hixson of Vinings Lake Church, for part 2 we talked with Don Record of actionchurch and in part three it was Joe Boyd of Aviator Church. In part four, we will be talking with David Payne of Lifesong Church.

Church Marketing Sucks: Hey David, I know you’re busy. Thanks for lending us a few minutes. Can you give us a quick, two-sentence intro of who you are and what you do?

David: I am the lead pastor of Lifesong Church outside Worcester, Mass. My role is to shape and drive the spiritual development of our community of faith.

CMS: And if you didn’t plant a church, what would you be doing?

David: Wow, I really couldn’t say. We were planning to take over an existing church or launch a new one. If one of those things didn’t happen, I probably would be in technology or sales training.

CMS: So a technology and sales guy. Sounds like a good plan for a launch. How did you get the word out about your church plant?

David: During 2006 as we approached our September 10th launch, we promoted Lifesong through three primary channels. We did a 55,000 piece direct mail postcard, had a hundred yard signs printed and placed and spent time and money to carry out two gas outreaches and two community cook-outs.

CMS: I feel like I remember hearing about that here. Beyond just a launch strategy, do you have church planters, books or resources you modeled yourself after?

David: The most significant influencers in our journey were the Association of Related Churches, Chris Hodges, Randy Bezet, Ernie Frye, Good to Great by Jim Collins, Purple Cow by Seth Godin and Mosaic Church (Nyeem Fazal) in Charlotte.

CMS: Sounds like a great group. Last question: When was it that you really realized your church was going to make it?

David: Really it was not for about six months, but we were broken and confident after week one when 396 people were at our launch service. After dropping to 198 in week four, we saw an average of 238 over the first half year and between that and financial growth from $17,000 to nearly $30,000 in month six, we were confident that God had done what he promised and we believed for–planted a life-giving and life-changing church.

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Joshua Cody

Josh Cody served as our associate editor for several years before moving on to bigger things. Like Texas. These days he lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, and you can find him online or on Twitter when he's not wrestling code.
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6 Responses to “Interview with a Church Planter: David Payne”

  • Brandon Barker
    January 12, 2009

    I, too, am a church planter and, not to sound “half-empty”, but your mailer received less than a 1% effectiveness rate (.72% to be exact). That doesn’t sound like an effective method at all.
    I am very interested in this topic, so I will be looking in. We have been in existence for 5 months and have seen steady growth. We are always looking for new ways to get the word out.

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  • Doug Paul
    January 12, 2009

    I think 1% effectiveness on direct mailers is the industry average. The question is this: How much was spent PER INDIVIDUAL as a result of the mailer (what’s the ROI?) and was there a more effective method for less money?

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  • Joe Boyd
    January 12, 2009

    I think that the direct mail approach was incredibly effective. You were actually 3 times as effective as current mail out stats go (0.25%). I get the point that the cost per person is high, but lives are on the line and you only have so much time and energy to do ministry. I liked the combo of gas buy down and community events with the mailer. If we had the money for our launch we probably would have mailed 100,000 people but we had no money and launched on word of mouth and community events.
    I say go after people any way you can and I think you rocked it out. Way to go!

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  • Paul Huxley
    January 13, 2009

    How many of those 238 or so were transfers from other churches (including core group) and how many were/are non-Christians or converts?
    As someone involved in a UK church plant starting with about 30 people (over half of them are children), I’m curious about what goes on on your side of the pond.

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  • Peter Bonanno
    January 13, 2009

    I’ve been to LifeSong and I can tell you that they are making a huge impact in their region. I am amazed at the number of young people and unchurched that have connected in a movie theatre venue that the leadership at LifeSong have truly converted into a modern worship space.

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  • David Payne
    January 14, 2009

    Paul: our launch team was about 40 people making the ‘new’ folks about 200 on average through month 6 (currently we average 300). Of the new folks, history has shown that about 25% were transfers – defined as someone who was attending another church 2-3 times per month right up until they came to lifesong (as expected very few of that group stayed or stays, and our focus was on the next two groups – and is still). About 50% were ‘past churched’ and had not been attending church for a year or more. The other 25% were unchurched altogether.
    Feel free to email with other questions, we’d love to offer whatever we can to your success in the UK!

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