What will it look like to plant a church from scratch? I get that question a lot. My initial, comedic answer is, “I don’t know, do you?” People quietly laugh at that, and obviously, it’s not my final answer. I wanted to take a moment to walk through some of the details of actually starting a church from scratch. Have you ever thought about what it would look like to move in to a new community, but there is no church? It’s hard for most of us to imagine, yet that’s sort of what we are up against.
I don’t want to be guilty of giving false information though. For better and worse, there are churches in Las Vegas; just not that many. There are even fewer healthy ones. For many Christians, that’s a scary thought. Moving to a place with very few churches and Christians.
I recently had a conversation with a friend about it. He asked, “just how many churches are there where you are going?” I said, “in the neighborhood in which we are looking, none”. He said, “so you may be the only Christians in your neighborhood?” I said, “possibly, isn’t that exciting?” He said “NO.” Ha. I understand what he meant though.
I guess it is just “slightly” a daunting task to move into a new neighborhood, not knowing anyone, not even knowing if there are Christians there, and begin a church. If I’m honest, I will have to admit that it didn’t seem too attractive to me at first. Ive wrote several blogs highlighting that process. Here’s the crazy part, I cannot wait now.
That is a God-given miracle, for sure. But it has happened. So how does one go about this task? As I have wrote before, some of my answer is, I don’t know for sure. I mean, there’s so many moving parts to this thing, there’s bound to be some learning on the fly. But that doesn’t mean we are going in dumb to the subject.
Our vision to plant starts with the homes around us. Here’s the irony, the southeastern United States used to know how to do this work. It starts with a front porch and a front door. Several days after we moved in to our current house, there was a knock at the door. The dear, sweet lady next door brought a huge welcome package to us. It was so thoughtful and really made us feel welcomed. The South has been doing that for generations. Guess what our first efforts will be: Meeting neighbors, showing love, and hopefully, sharing God’s love.
We may be the new ones on the block, but we will be knocking on our neighbors’ doors, sharing a “welcome to the neighborhood” gift, and simply inviting them in to our home for food, fellowship, and bible study. How much simpler can you get? From there, we will be moving in to surrounding neighborhoods, local institutions, and every door that the Lord opens for us. There are lots of technical details to work out, websites, IRS status, and bi-laws, but at the end of the day, that’s not what makes a church. Its people. God-created, God-redeemed people.
Our hope and prayer, is that all this work would produce bible studies in our home. My intent is not to plant a house church, but that is how we will start. It would be an incredible waste of funds to rent worship space without church attendees. This opening strategy doesn’t come without risk, though. It’s always a little intimidating to have strangers in your home, but we feel that this is what we are called to do. Matthew and I both hope to have bible studies up and running before the end of the year. From the main small group time in our home, hopefully God will provide a meeting place for us to move to in a timely manner. Any timing and provision will have to come from the Lord. Either way, we will be working to be faithful to Jesus’ command in Matthew 28:18 to make disciples. Hopefully, that gives you a small glimpse in to what life will look life for us.
Last Sunday, in the 2nd and 3rd grade Sunday school class, we talked about missionaries and about Phillip in the book of Acts. I told the kids that when I was a child, there was one word in my mind that described a missionary. That word is superhero. As God has seen fit to call my family in to such work, the word in my mind is no longer superhero. That word is now three words, scared but hopeful. Please continue to pray for us as the Lord sees fit to continue to give us a heart for the lost and leads us in to dark places!