People are living increasingly isolated lives. We were built to live with each other, to need each other. But we also know that we humans don’t often get along with each other…is this some kind of cruel irony? God didn’t create humans to live in isolation, and He has also provided the way out of our own isolation.
The only way we can authentically share our lives together is if we first find ourselves in Him. Because of God’s love to us we can truly love each other. Isn’t that a great promise? It’s a promise that stirs us to action. We know that there are people who don’t have this present hope. How can we come alongside these people and point them to hope?
Planting a new church means seeing new people come to faith. It means invigorating existing believers and mobilizing them for ministry. The church is the nexus of our lives, where everything comes together, the opposite of isolation. It is the place where hopeless people come to know hope. We want to see more people create more churches. This is not a small endeavor and requires steps.
The first step is where we are now. We want to plant a church, but know we need more discipleship and equipping towards that end. This desire for being involved in starting a new church pointed us to a church planting residency at Riverside Community Church, in downtown Columbia, SC. Here we will get the discipleship we need, learning how to plant in the context of a plant itself. The plan is for us to complete this program and be sent out along with others to plant a new church. We have a burden for certain types of people, such as those who have been disenfranchised or forgotten by the church and are excited about directing existing believers toward the neglected places and people of our own cities.
At Riverside we will be engaging with the arts community, seeing how the church can come alongside artists and help foster their gifts as well as see gospel light penetrate their lives. We will be interacting with those who have grown up in generational poverty, pointing them to the One who always provides and calls us to more than what this world can offer. We will also be deeply involved in our neighborhood, living in such a way that the love of Christ will be on display for all to see through evangelism and discipleship. I’ll also get opportunities to preach, help pastor ministry leaders, and continually be assessed in areas of church planting. All of this training and ministry will be crucial to help launch a new community of people moved by the love of Christ found in the gospel.
The second step is to move to Manchester, England and work with Grace Church Manchester with the goal of planting a new church in the city. We would still be in discipling relationships, but now the context is in the process of actually planting. New believers are brought into new community and existing believers are re-energized to minister in new ways.
The third step is for the plant to blossom and grow into a self-sufficient church. It reproduces its own leaders, is able to financially sustain its own ministries, etc. We would be putting into action the structures of the previous step in order to eventually reproduce.
In the fourth step, as with all healthy families, plants and animals is to reproduce. We want to plant a church that plants churches. We want to be able to send people into new areas and bring the light of the gospel. We know one church can’t do all the work of ministry, there must be many.