Church Planting Q&A with Troy McMahon ~ BitterSweetLife

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Church Planting Q&A with Troy McMahon

I'm going to round out my series of church planting interviews with this conversation I had with Troy McMahon late last semester. Troy is a church planter and founder of the New Thing Network, a catalyst for a movement of reproducing churches. He oversaw multiple church sites in Chicago before moving to Platte County, Missouri, where he plans to launch a new church in March 2008--learn more at ReachOutKC.

I caught up with Troy in A Cup Above, a coffee shop in the Northland where everyone knows him by sight, and really appreciated his enthusiasm and experience. Thanks for talking with me, Troy!

Can you tell me a little about yourself (biographical stuff), and how you got interested in church planting?

I grew up as a pastor's kid in a series of small, independent Christian churches. They tended to run 100-150 people, and they were wonderful places to get loved and cared for, but not too much conversion happened. I moved to Kansas in junior high, eventually went to K-State, got a degree in Chemical Engineering, and was recruited to the Navy. While in the Navy, I attended a church in Washington, D.C., and had a conversation with a friend who wanted to start "a church for people who don't go to church." That was a roadmarker conversation for me.

Later, I moved to Chicago to work for General Mills and found Community Christian Church, a place with a reputation as a growing church for people who didn't go to church. I saw twenty-four adults baptized in one night, more conversions than I had seen in an entire lifetime. I started buying the pastor breakfast for a year to see what made him tick.

I was transferred to Atlanta, Georgia, with a General Mills promotion, and when that project ended in November of 1994, I had a total willingness to do anything, go anywhere (thinking General Mills). God's got a sense of humor about these things. I got a call from GM and moved back to Chicago--where I was asked to help start a second church campus with Community Christian Church. That took me off guard. I prayed with my wife, and felt led to take the job. We made a commitment: We will not live a life of regret. So I took the opportunity, came on staff, and launched a second location a year later in 1998. In 2002, we sponsored a church plant in Denver, starting the New Thing Network--a church planting network that has planted 17 affiliate churches from 2002 to now.

I started asking if one of these new planters should be me. I was providing leadership to eight Chicago-land churches, but finally thought it was time to plant. In July, 2007, the Independent Christian Convention [with which Troy is affiliated] was held in Kansas City...I thought, "Why not plant in KC?"

What’s been the greatest challenge(s) of church planting?

Getting a location. We believe God has the perfect location and timing for us. Also, relocating my family. They lived in Chicago for twelve years--basically grew up there, had deep roots. The church we left was running 5000 each weekend, now we arrive here and have no church. I have to get my family engaged. Also, building a launch team. We want 100 people and have 42. It's an incredible blessing, but we have to build that team.

How do you deal with the financial needs?

We make specific asks of individuals and organizations to support us. We've laid out a self-supporting within 36 months. We went to people we knew were passionate about Jesus and asked for money. So far, people have been very generous. We focus on relationships and networks, absolutely. Each one of the sponsors are relationships. I'm finding more and more churches that are willing to participate in church plants, not just overseas, but local church plants.

How do you deal with the "people" needs? (finding the right people to back you)

It's about the relationships. Spending time praying, getting out there and making relationships. I met the owner of A Cup Above, the "networker of the Northland." People really want to be interested in something difference-making. We call them "spiritual entrepreneurs." We found over 30 people for our arts team on Craig's List...there are a group of people out there longing to serve.

How did you (or would you) put together a core group?

We do monthly launch team meetings, starting six months out. At each meeting there's interaction, worship and music, and a teaching time to convey mission. We talk about "The Big Idea"--how do we communicate God's truths in laser-focused chunks so people can put it into place in their lives?

We also have small groups--that's a huge value for us. We have people commit to "The Three Cs": "Celebrate, Connect, Contribute." Also, we have "turbo small groups" for prospective group leaders. And my wife and I have opened our home. Out of 40 launch members, 35 have been in our home.

We want to create a culture of serving and a culture of community. Also, we want to grow a leadership community; we have a once-a-month meeting for all leaders to develop them, have a time of care and nurturing. Pour into leaders, they'll pour into small groups.

What was or is the role of your mentor(s) or role model(s)?

I have a couple coaches who are part of my management team. We check on tactical, personal, spiritual issues, as well as act as a sounding board. I've been blessed to have really great mentors.

What is the role of sponsoring/partner churches? What has worked? What would you change and why?

The role is basically prayer, finances, and people. Distance churches provide prayer and finances. Locally, churches help with launch and with the first several months. I need to do a better job communicating needs with a wider timeframe...get more disciplined about communicating longer out so those local churches can get people involved.


Other church planter interviews: Kevin Cawley, Pete Williamson, Hunter Beaumont, Jason Allen.

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must_decrease said...

Invaluable as always. These interviews have been food for my church planting soul. I'm hoping to see another series in the future

Thanks man


Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife