Why Plant a Church?
Around 3 million people in our region, close to 500,000 in Delaware County alone, are not actively engaged in a Spirit-filled, life-giving local body of Christ. Increasingly, many find the church irrelevant and extreme, and are opting to abandon organized religion altogether. One-third of college-aged adults want nothing to do with religion, and few believe that religion has anything to offer them personally or the wider society as a whole. More than two out of five Americans would even say that “people of faith” are part of the problem. There is even a whole new generation rising that is marked by no memory of the gospel.
The speed of life is increasing, people are more disconnected and distracted, families are broken, pornography is the norm, and “we are in the middle of the worst opioid epidemic in history” (over 200 overdoses in Delaware County in 2016). There is a desperate need for a fresh proclamation and demonstration of the power of the gospel to transform lives and bring renewal to the world.
How Will We Plant?
It is clear that there is a desperate need for a fresh proclamation and demonstration of the power of the gospel to transform lives and bring renewal to our communities. This is best done in the context of communities of disciples (the local church) who live out an authentic Christian counter-culture amidst this hungry and needy world. Yes, we’ll be starting a regular gathering that we’ll call “church”. But, to truly leave a legacy, to sustain a discipleship movement, we must do more than hold a public gathering. The public ministry of Jesus was only a small part of his five-pronged discipleship strategy:
- He led himself.
- He confided in the three.
- He trained the twelve.
- He mobilized the seventy.
- He taught the multitudes.
To better equip ourselves to live into all of these areas, we are partnering with the V3 Movement, a church planting network that trains planters to start disciple-making churches that are a sign, foretaste and instrument of God’s kingdom. We’ll focus on recovering the foundational practices of tight-knit community, life-forming discipleship, locally-rooted presence, and boundary-crossing mission. In addition to the V3 Movement, we’ll be partnering with the the Assemblies of God’s Church Multiplication Network; and Life Christian Fellowship (Springfield, PA), who will provide oversight, relational covering, accountability, and support. As a result, we will be focused on launching in the Haverford area of Delaware County.
What Is Our Process?
Over the next year we’ll seek to accomplish three goals:
The development of a discipleship core
We’ll immediately begin assembling a core discipleship team that will be the foundation of what we do. That discipleship team will focus on intentionally living as disciples, living on mission, living in community, and learning how to use their spiritual gifts. This team will also be working through some of the logistics of starting a church (learning the community, creating a name/brand, developing a financial plan, finding a location, etc).
The development of a social space
At the beginning of 2018, that core team will start to develop a social space, a group of 15-30 people who are present within the community, welcoming to the lost, engaging in spiritual conversations, and meeting tangible needs in the neighborhood. These aren’t church services, but rather places where lost people and believers can intersect, build friendships, and serve alongside one another. Think dinner tables, community events, football games, parties, backyard BBQ, etc.
The launching of a collective worship gathering
After developing and multiplying both a discipleship core and regular social space, our goal is to launch the collective worship gathering in September of 2018.