There comes a time in every Christian’s life when they decide to start their own church. That time is often 7:18 a.m. Sunday morning after two rounds of snooze bar-induced fever dreams. Usually, these plans fade by 7:20 when the risen snoozer realizes they can’t pronounce most of the names in the Old Testament (hint: it’s not Nemo-crud-cheddar) and that they still giggle every time anyone utters the word “epistle,” thereby making them a rather suspect prospective expositor of God’s Word.

Nonetheless, new churches continue springing up in places where a seeming abundance of old-time gospel hours already exists. Perhaps a person is authentically moved by the Spirit. Or perhaps some strange desire to ironically christen the twenty-third such church inside a 12 block radius the First United Non-Demoninational Lady of the Southern Synod. The motivation is, for once, not for me to judge. I only know that starting from scratch is no easy feat. Fortunately, I’ve written (well, I’m about to write) an E-Z Guide for all the would-be Robert Schullers of the world.

Location: Do not start your church in your home. Home is where the heart is. And also the piles of unmentionables you’ve been meaning to fold for two weeks. You want the presence you feel in your midst to be the Holy Ghost, not the ghost of unwashed gym shorts past. Besides, homes are for selling pyramid scheme juices and vitamins. And the garage is no exception, unless you’re also inventing a new computer and calling your flock the ][ Church of Woz (nerd joke).

Instead, go the classic church-starting route by finding the oddest, most random space you can rent that can fit a decent number of folding chairs. Strip mall storefronts. Abandoned Walmarts. Shuttered Hummer dealerships. Starbucks, as long as you sing your hymns in the style of Feist. Movie theaters (folding chairs included!). High school auditoriums, assuming you can bribe the local head of the ACLU. Remember, if you ever want to have a good origin story someday, you need start somewhere original. Or at least cheap.

Staff: Are you nuts? You won’t even be able to afford the Pumpkin Spice Latte during your second service at Starbucks, let alone pay a staff. This is where nepotism goes from being a big no-no to a being a tiny, child-shaped blessing. The bigger your brood, the more ushers, janitors, and sound techs (to run the karaoke-based PA system) will be at your disposal. So if you’ve neglected procreating, well, you may want to postpone your plans 10-18 years. And while adoption is good in general, doing so to staff a church starts pushing you into cult leader territory. As do those robes you’ve been eying online.

Style: A church is not supposed to be all things to all people. It is supposed to embody all the things all people truly need. But even if you’re gunning to be as Christ-centered as possible, there are still almost innumerable stylistic forms your church can take. And by “innumerable” I mean “two.” Traditional or contemporary. Do you opt for hymns or worship songs? A Casio keyboard set to pipe organ sounds or Fender Rhodes (the sound of 80s TV theme songs for those not in the know)? Personally, I’m more of a traditionalist. I can throw my hands in the air and bliss out to “Our God is an Awesome God” with the best of them, but I’d rather cry on the inside to “It is Well with My Soul.” Nonetheless, were I starting a church, I’d go contemporary purely as a matter of economics. Tambourines are cheap. One of your new converts is sure to have a guitar of reasonable intonation. And, as you’ve already discovered, robes ain’t cheap.

Preaching: Four words and a hyphen. PowerPoint – don’t do it.

Marketing: In the old days of Fender Rhodes-accompanied frivolity, one could go door to door and actually invite people to attend your new fount of living waters across from the dry cleaners. Sadly, today’s gated communities and pocket Tasers make such outreach ministering a skosh dangerous. Or a double skosh if you broke down and bought a robe. Instead, today’s young churches rely on what hip ad wizards call “social media” to reach their “target market” of “Sinny McSinnerson and his whole sinning neighborhood.” They tweet. They Facebook. They blog. They do anything that’s free. And when all that fails, they ask their former co-workers and their kids’ soccer teams to come.  Of course, since everyone is doing this, you’ll need to stand out by going back to those old, Fuller Brush Man methods that will seem retro to the youths. And if you upgraded to the Kevlar robe, you’ll be immune to the Tasering, bro. Unless they go for the head shot.

These tips should prove invaluable, or possibly unvaluable, as you venture forth into the fields ripe for harvest. Stay the course, run the race, pray your knees off and your little congregation that could may one day grow large enough to require post-service traffic cops. God bless.