Existing groups do not effectively involve the brethren and their spiritual gifts
Unfortunately, the average congregation consists of people simply attending service and listening and watching "the professionals" do everything. This is not helpful for individual growth. A congregation should give everyone opportunity to be involved, ask questions and participate as they are able. A congregation should be active and actively serving in some way. For more study see 1Corinthians 12-14; Ephesians 4:11-15; Romans 12:6-8; 1Peter 4:8–11.
Denominationalism or church politics are greatly decreasing effectiveness
Church leaders who are more concerned about their position, doctrinal statements, and programs often resist the Spirit of God. They may actually try to stop effective, spirit-led worship, teaching, local evangelism or service. Technical reasons for stopping such behavior include "it is not approved by headquarters," "we may not have the budget to handle it," or "somebody might sue us" etc. However, the spirit-led believer may simply see these as excuses for resisting God.
Members (or leaders) are openly practicing sin
Paul instructed that people should not attend services until they change, so that a bad name does not come upon God's people (1Corinthians 5:1 - 7). The principles of Matthew 18:15 - 17 can take care of these problems, but the leaders or people in some groups will not make the needed changes. (This point does not refer to people in a group who have sinned, repented, and stopped sinning, or people who see some doctrines differently. It refers to habitual liars, adulterers, perverts, thieves, etc.)
Significant differences in doctrine with the church with little chance of change
No two serious Bible students will probably ever agree on everything that the Bible teaches, but it is difficult to worship in spirit and truth when the teaching of a congregation is limited to a doctrinal statement written by men thousands of miles away or hundreds of years ago. Other groups may teach more psychology than the Bible. Some may teach that all or part of the Bible is a fable. Doctrinal disagreement is easier to work with if a service allows discussion or the expression of multiple points of view. It is much more difficult for a believer to keep attending a service when its leadership allows only one point of view expressed and the believer thinks that point of view is wrong.
This is an even greater problem for those who have children who are learning and for those who are bringing new people to the service. How can one recommend a service to friends and family if one must continually tell them about corrections to the messages given?
Existing services are too far away to attend every week.
This author knows people who have driven two or more hours each week in order to attend church services. The service may be wonderful, but much of the good disappears by the exhausting drive and the near impossibility of fellowship opportunities during the rest of the week.
You believe that Christ has specifically led you to serve people in a way the church is not doing
This does not mean that you have a personal feeling that you attribute to Christ, but that you have asked Him to show you in a clear unmistakable way that is what He wants you to do.
If one or more of the above applies to you, and if you have seriously looked for other existing congregations and found none that will work, then there may be reasons for starting a church in your area. However, before you get started, please think about whether you, or anyone wanting to start a service with you, are doing it for the WRONG reasons.
Five WRONG reasons for starting a church
Someone believes that he or she has all the truth (nearly all their doctrines are right)
Recognizing major, continually taught error in other congregations is a reason to leave them. This is much different from someone making the presumptuous assumption that he knows nearly everything important in the Bible. Never create a congregation that is essentially a collection point for people to follow one person. That will lead to idolatry and division in the body of Christ.
Someone believes his or her understanding of prophecy comes from God
This problem is similar to the above, but can appear quite differently - the prophecy student may not claim to be right in other areas of doctrine, only in prophecy. A person who has spent many hours studying prophecy (either someone else's conclusions or his own) can sound like he has an impressive amount of knowledge about the future. People are often concerned about the future and need to follow someone who "knows it." However, you cannot know if a prophecy teacher is inspired of God until several things he has predicted come to pass as he said it would. It is good to teach prophecy, but it is not a reason to start a new congregation. If God really does grant someone great prophetic understanding, should not that person travel around and teach many congregations?
Someone thinks he or she can do a better job than the group's current leaders
If someone believes the current leaders of his group are making mistakes, he should go to them about it. If he is not heard, but others feel the same way, then he should take other witnesses with him (Matthew 18:15-17). If it is possible to take the problems to the congregation, do it (some congregations may allow such a procedure - they may even allow the election of new leaders). However, until a person has exhausted the possible parts of the above procedure - asking current leaders to change - he should not divide a congregation just so he can be a leader.
Someone is tired of serving and never being recognized
People should be serving because the Holy Spirit in them motivates them to a life of service. Our Savior gave His life for people who did not even understand that they needed a Savior. We must learn to serve without human rewards. Never begin a congregation for recognition. Most who start a new congregation will probably be doing more work and receiving more complaints than they did in their previous congregation.
Someone has doctrinal disagreements that have minimal effect on group practice
As an example, consider "prayer position." Some scriptures mention people praying with their head bowed, others with their eyes lifted to heaven, and others with their hands held up. Some brethren may prefer one particular way - even believe it is the only right way. However, a group can stay together with each person praying in the way they believe is best. Areas of belief that do not affect practice are even less of a reason to divide. For example, some people believe Christ was the One who spoke with Abraham and Moses in the Old Testament. Others believe it was the Father. Both sides can find scriptures to support their teaching - which usually make the other side uncomfortable. Some will go as far as to say that those who do not understand this point correctly are "worshiping the wrong God." Nevertheless, a Roman jailer with only one night's teaching came to believe in God for the first time and was baptized - became a member of the Church (Acts 16:20 - 40). There was not time to teach an in-depth understanding of God. Furthermore, the Bible clearly shows that our judgment we will on how we treat our neighbors than by how well we can explain complex doctrine. Brethren can have different understandings of some theological ideas, and still worship and serve together.
Anyone starting a new church will have some of the "right reasons" above and none of the wrong ones. It might be good to discuss these points with others who are thinking of starting a new congregation - and maybe with others who think you should not begin one. If you cannot answer their truthful objections, then you might not want to start it.
Whatever you do, please realize that beginning a congregation is not a "popularity contest." Do not begin a new group by attempting to recruit everyone that you think might possibly want to come. BEGIN SMALL. Start by talking to the people that you know share your spiritual desire for a new congregation - probably because of issues mentioned above. If your study, prayer, fasting, and conversations with brethren lead you to start a congregation, then begin with a small one. If the Holy Spirit is working in your new group, then others will hear about it and it will grow. If God is not blessing your congregation and working in it, then it is better if no one comes and it quietly ends.
Nobody needs to convince any human that your motives for beginning a new congregation are right - it is the Perfect Judge in heaven who will righteously judge what you do. If your work is of "gold, silver and precious stones," God will recognize it and reward you (1Corinthians 3:11 - 15). Other brethren will recognize your work by the fruit it bears (Matthew 7:16). If your work is not of God, you would be better off not to do it (James 3:1).
Establishing a fellowship or church
Should the person with the most knowledge of the Bible establish a congregation? Must an "ordained minister or deacon" start it? Should it be a person who is a good speaker? Should it be a wealthy person or a person who knows many people?
Most of the above qualifications would probably be helpful in starting a church, but none of them is necessary. Today, people expect denominations to build formal seminaries to grant degrees and ordain ministers to give long sermons and help build church buildings. Actually, none of the concepts behind the underlined words is in the Bible. Paul instructed the Corinthians not to form denominations - groups following a particular Bible teacher (1Corinthians 1:11 - 16; 1Corinthians 3:1 - 10). While Paul did teach in a "school of Tyrannus" (Acts 19:9), it must have been a temporary arrangement, and there is no indication that anyone else ever taught there. There is no mention of degrees or "graduates." Except for this school, the New Testament mentions believers meeting primarily in homes (though sometimes synagogues or the temple).
The typical concept of "ordination" is NOT in the Bible. Bible translations have no agreement on where the word "ordain" is in the New Testament - because there is no Greek word that has the meaning described above. Several Bibles have only one or zero occurrences of the word "ordain" in the New Testament. The word 'sermon' is not in most Bibles. The Bible records no short discourses, but many questions and answers between Jesus, His apostles and the people. Finally, there is no mention of building a church building, but frequent mentions of meetings in homes. Notice these verses:
"Jesus called them together and said, You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave - just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:25 - 28)
A desire to serve God, honesty, truthfulness, love for the brethren and willingness to work hard are much more important qualities needed to start a church. Bible knowledge and the ability to teach are important, but secondarily so. A charismatic personality, without the above qualities, can be a detriment - the congregation might grow because of a leader's charisma, but lack spiritual substance.
The individuals involved should pray and ask if it is the Father's will. They should ask for Christ's leadership, and ask Him to supply the necessary physical and spiritual gifts. People do not have to be spotless, spiritual giants to begin a local congregation. On the other hand, each person serving must meet certain qualifications (1Timothy 3, Titus 1). He must be humble enough to recognize and repent when he makes mistakes so that the whole congregation can continue to grow (1Timothy 5:20). A person who desires to oversee a congregation desires a good thing (1Timothy 3:1 - 7). However, he must not think that he is going to be 'someone important' and rule his brethren (Matthew 20:25 - 28). Starting a church is a commitment to serving, rather than a way of obtaining a higher spiritual status with God.
It is easier to start a congregation when several like-minded individuals and/or families help do it. When Christ sent out disciples and apostles, he sent them out in pairs (Mark 6:7; Luke 10:1; Acts 13:2; 15:39-40). On the other hand, it appears that one person established some congregations in the Bible - both approaches have certainly worked throughout history. New congregations usually begin from one of three situations:
New congregations frequently form as the result of the preaching of someone (or a few people) who are "on fire" for God
People with differing church backgrounds come together because God is showing them many of the same things - no single one of them may be an outstanding teacher
People who presently attend a larger group desire to split off and meet separately
Situation 1 usually works quite harmoniously because people are learning the same things at the same time. Situation 2 requires more effort for brethren to get to know each other and be tolerant of beliefs that they do not share in common. Nevertheless, both of these are "completely new congregations," the major influence upon them is the people who attend, and what they allow God to do through them.
However, in situation 3, when a group splits from a previous group, the previous group's history will still have quite a bit of influence on the new group. There are often many expectations on the part of people. (If your new service does not involve the splitting off from a previous group, you might wish to skip the rest of this section.)
The desire to split off usually comes from perceived doctrinal, moral, or financial error on the part of the previous group. There are often hard feelings that occur when a church group breaks up. People who have worshipped together for years suddenly find themselves apart. It often is a test to see if people have Christian love or just warm feelings of group affiliation.
In some ways, church splits resemble family disagreements. There is a tendency for some people to choose a side and then to refuse to talk about the issue. Another extreme is to judge, attack and name-call people in the other group. Neither is good. Each person should make an effort to talk about what the Bible says about the issues that are causing the split. Everyone must be patient and realize that not everyone sees everything at the same time - we learn differently.
The major goal of a split-off church will be to avoid the problems that caused the split. Decisions for starting a new group usually do not come from the perspective of "what should we do?" but from the perspective of "what should we do differently from what we were doing previously?" People often want "the same kind of congregation" with "the old problem" fixed. However, when problems arise and a new start is made, believers frequently pray and study the Bible with a new zeal. They may see new things in the scriptures that they previously had not. Some of what they "discover" may be a mistake. On the other hand, they may discover new truth that other members of the new group are not ready to accept. There is a limit to how many things change at once. Even after three years of training, Christ's Apostles still did not understand all they needed to know (John 16:12). Many times, a new group will have to begin with an agreement to "solve the problems that caused the split," and to consider other issues later.