There are so many questions when it comes to church planting and we are finding that there are so many different ways to do it. Pastor Warren Bullock (pastor of Northwest Family Church who is the sending church for this plant in Bonney Lake) and I will be periodically posting a little nugget here on my blog to communicate just where we are at in the church planting journey. We will also explain some of the confusing elements to the whole church planting process, the terms and some of the practices.
So how about we start with the term Launch. We have made it known that we are targeting a January 10, 2010 launch date in the Regal Tall Firs 10 Cinema in Bonney Lake. Might sound obvious to you, I thought it was pretty simple too, but after some reading and training I realized the Launch is not just about starting a church service, it’s about engaging in true community that would eventually demand a gospel explanation. After enough relationships are developed through those who are passionate about the vision of the church, you are ready to Launch a gathering.
Many well intentioned pastors set out to plant churches in new communities, but really all they launch is a service. Their intention was to reach the lost, disciple those who reach the point of decision for Christ and see them become the church outside the walls, but what they got was a service. And often when trying to market door to door, via mailings and in the paper that there is a new church in the area, the people who show up are actually from other churches. Who in the normal world really cares if you wear jeans in church, only those church people who have been told they couldn’t right? And these people from other churches come to hopefully do their concept of church through you as the new place in town, but is that truly the mission?
Well, maybe you have caught this by now, but NFC does not want to draw people from other churches. We are not even trying to draw people from our own church. We want to reach those who are far from Jesus in Bonney Lake and the surrounding areas.
Demographic studies tell us that within a 5 mile radius of Bonney Lake there are 91,000 people and only 11,000 of those attend a church regularly. 80,000 people don’t need another church in Bonney Lake, they need Christians who live authentically 24/7. They need neighbors who love openly, live their lives transparently, and demonstrate all that Jesus showed us we should in the gospels. We cannot afford to plant a church service in Bonney Lake, we must birth an organic movement that begins in neighborhoods, living rooms, work places, and of course Starbucks.
From the relationships we develop, gatherings where we are open about the challenges and blessings of life, and connections we make in the community will come the need for a larger gathering, a church service if you will. This is what is often referred to as the Launch. But this effective launch that is going to be largely composed of irreligious people who are on their journey toward a fresh relationship with Christ started three years ago when we moved into our neighborhood. It began when we learned the names of the kids that go to our daughter’s school. It progressed to the depth of this, Dana and our girls took a birthday brownie two houses down to our neighbor Kenny who just turned 35 today, while I was in a board meeting at church. That is life on mission, not for the sake of getting a big church, but because that is what Jesus asked us to do…truly care about our neighbors.
What Jesus needs in Bonney Lake is not another church service, you can find one if you are looking for it. Jesus needs a bunch of people who love like He did, will go out of their way to see that others know how much God cares about their lives, and people who experience the freedom of doing life together…sin and all.
We have been told launching a church like this is messy. We might have to do some explaining when people with different value systems come to our home for a barbeque, or we go to visit our neighbors during one of our weekly neighborhood happy hours. Jesus would have done it, in fact He is wanting to do it, through you and me right now.
Why wait till January to launch a service, when Jesus wants us to transform lives today?
So what is the Launch? It is the date when all of our CORE group, and Launch Team have reached the point of effective relational connection with their circle of influence, and we begin to gather all of those who are dear to us in a larger venue. Not forsaking the authentic relationships that got us there, but continuing to expand our influence and benefit our community through Christ. Can’t wait for January, but really, January started long ago.
Thanks for all of your prayers as we journey closer, grow the team and begin to see more people connect with Jesus in our neighborhoods.