Reader’s Guide to Zero to 80

In our weekly small-group sessions, we’re reading Zero to 80, a resource guide for planting churches. The book collects insights from the founders of Atlanta’s Impact Church and groups these “impact ideas” in sections focused on topics like vision, relationships, marketing, small group meetings, hospitality, worship, and more.

Instead of simply recounting Impact’s story, this is a “cookbook” of creativity: ideas and questions to inspire those of us working to plant new churches in our communities.

A Quick Summary of the Book

Impact Church grew to 1,000 membrers in its first year, and this book is a collection of the practical ideas that informed and inspired that growth. As you get ready to plant a church, the leaders of Impact recommend readers to pay special attention to:

  • the gifts and experiences that they’re excited about offering a new church
  • the frustrations that can illuminate what they don’t want in their church
  • the fears that identify the first steps they can take toward something new
  • the dreams that inspire them, even when those dreams feel too big to achieve
  • their identity, so they can begin by just “being themselves”
  • the differences a church needs in order to be distinctive from others
  • the limitations that will force a group to trust in God
  • the specific ways they can live their vision in their community
  • the opportunities to delegate authority and create leaders
  • the qualifications your advisory team should possess.

Chapter Summaries

These chapter summaries are a great way to “catch up” (if you’ve missed a week) and prepare for our small group discussions (if you don’t have time to read the chapter for yourself!)

4/23/2023 – Impact Idea One: Name the Roads that Brought You Here. As he looks back on his life, the author says he was strongly influenced by pastors who focused on building relationships and creating practical plans for achieving lofty visions. What gifts, lessons, and experiences do you have that will help you create a church you feel called to serve? (Click here to see our discussion notes from this chapter.)

4/30/2023 – Impact Idea Two: Understand that Restlessness is a Vision Catalyst. A period of restlessness can become God’s way of leading us forward to start new things. What things in your community, relationships, and interactions with others are making you feel frustrated? What kind of church are you searching for? Writing about this for three pages can be a powerful way of discerning where God is leading you.

4/30/2023Impact Idea Three: Eclipse Fear with Faith. The process of starting something new can also stoke feelings of fear — but faith can help us transform fear into focus! As you consider planting a new church, what are your fears? How do you feel God has prepared you to deal with those fears? What is the first step you can take to move toward something new?

Impact Idea Four: Dare to Vision Bigger at Every Step. Early in church planting is the time to dream big. What big ideas are calling out to you? Write these down and share them. Dream impossible dreams. These may lead you to your church name, your vision, and your core values. And — don’t feel rushed. Some things (like choosing a new church name) will take time.

Impact Idea Five: Get Comfortable with Who You Are. Own who you are and what you feel. Know what you like and don’t like, and own up to this, because that’s where vision starts. Just be authentic. How comfortable are you with being who you are? Where do you share who you are freely … and where do you hold back? This is also part of knowing what you do well … and where you can serve best.

Impact Idea Six: Do Church Differently. Not every church has to work for everyone. How can you innovate? What would surprise you? What makes you feel comfortable and safe? What would challenge your creativity? Try this: draw a box. Inside the box, put words representing a typical church. Outside, put words that represent what a different church with broader appeal might look like. What things outside the box could help you look and act differently from other churches?

Impact Idea Seven: Throw Limitations Out the Window. As soon as you start planning to grow, doubts will occur. These limits force us to trust God. Who can you talk to for inspiration and positive support? What people and places inspire you? Who builds you up? Make an effort to find and spend more time with these people.

Impact Idea Eight: Demonstrate Vision in Relevant Ways. Impact Church wanted to make a difference in their community, so they decided to give 10% of their offerings to the school where they worshipped and became partners with that school … without seeking credit. How will your community discover your generosity? How might God lead you to be more generous?

Impact Idea Nine: Repel Self-Centered Growth. By design, Impact Church avoided any impulse to build the church around the pastor or a team of charismatic leaders. Instead, they sought to empower other people. What opportunities exist for delegating authority and nurturing leadership in others?

Impact Idea Ten: Become a High-Functioning Organization. Small groups with big dreams create some of the most exciting innovations. As you think about planting a church, be sure you have the right people on board to lead your effort — people aligned with your vision, direction, and needs. What criteria should qualify them? Who needs to join? Who needs to move on? How can you get God’s help in discerning who is right for the job?

More chapter summaries are coming soon!