Starting New Churches – An Interesting Story

Thanks to Tim Stevens for bringing this story to my attention via this post – One Church Becomes Two… Without Splitting.

Beach United Methodist Church, in Jacksonville, Florida will be launching one of their worship venues, Eleven 22, as a new non denominational church in 12 to 18 months. You can read more about it at http://ourchurchconversation.com

I believe that starting new churches is a critical component of The United Methodist Church finding renewal and new life. There are new churches started every year, but there are some things about this start that I find intriguing:

  • A mainline church is launching a non denominational church
  • It seems that the worship service was not originally started with a new church start in mind.
  • This is not the first nor the last new church that Beach UMC will launch.

I hope and pray for all the best for these congregations and the way that they will continue to live out the gospel in Jacksonville. What is your response to this story?

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The Rabbit and the Elephant – a review

I recently finished reading The Rabbit and the Elephant: Why Small Is the New Big for Today’s Church by Tony & Felicity Dale and George Barna. This book offers the perspective that the church may be more effective in making disciples of Jesus Christ by multiplying rapidly rather than seeking to grow larger. The authors offer both practical tips and a thought framework for launching house churches and creating networks.

Tony and Felicity Dale share their stories of house church planting in both England and the United States. Some of their reminders include listening to God, focus on prayer and to model a simple pattern so that it can easily be repeated.

An outline for engagement in a house church is taken from Acts 2:42 – apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking bread together and prayer.  Each gathering includes conversation, a meal and prayer. None of these are to be the best possible (for example a gourmet chef) to encourage the participation of all. The authors suggest a framework for teaching which involves studying the scripture in a community and using symbols as a guide to the conversation.

  • Question mark – “something we don’t understand”
  • Lightbulb – “something that sheds light, either on that passage of Scripture or something going on in a person’s life”
  • Arrow – “represents God piercing a person’s heart – he or she has heard from God and needs to do something about it.”

The authors suggest that it is important to consider starting new groups with new people rather than assimilating others into existing groups. They suggest looking for a person whose leadership could be key in influencing a new circle of people to start the next group – a “person of peace” (see Luke 10:5-6). Finding this person of peace may be accomplished by telling one’s story as this can be a key opportunity to share the good news of Jesus Christ. They suggest this simple pattern for sharing (pg 135):

  1. What was life like before you became a Christian (or before your faith became real to you)?
  2. How did you meet Jesus?
  3. How has Jesus changed your life?

I found particularly important the reminder that there will be a difficult time of transition for persons who are moving from a more traditional form of church to a micro church. It will not be what it was, nor will it likely be exactly what is envisioned when first starting out.

Many of the themes in this book were quite helpful for those considering the possibility of living out one’s faith in a micro church. Unfortunately, the book did not flow smoothly from beginning to end and there were parts of several chapters that did not add to the advancement of the thesis. Nonetheless, this was a solid book and I recommend it for anyone considering a life of faith in a micro church.

Micro Church: New Church Start (5 of 5)

I believe that over the next several years, micro churches will become an important part of renewal within The United Methodist Church.

While there are many different settings in which micro churches might thrive, I believe that the greatest potential may be in planting new churches. As micro churches continue to multiply and grow, leadership would increasingly be pushed to the local level. A pastor could be appointed to oversee a network of 20 micro churches and serve as a circuit rider in ways that are similar to early Methodism. This allows churches to be planted with little overhead and initial expenditure of resources and for healthy congregations to more easily birth congregations than may otherwise be possible.

I believe that micro churches will have a significant impact on the way that churches are planted in The United Methodist Church.

How do you respond to this idea?

This is part of a series of posts about micro churches. You can read more in the next several days at these posts:

Micro Church: Existing Congregation (4 of 5)

I believe that over the next several years, micro churches will become an important part of renewal within The United Methodist Church.

I believe that existing congregations could be a place where a micro church could flourish. Utilizing a live stream of worship could enable existing congregations to begin another worship service with a small amount of resource commitment. It would not need to be in competition with existing worship services, but could serve to supplement existing worship opportunities. Encouraging and equipping leaders might bear fruit by leading groups in homes or in an existing church building. This might also be a way for congregations that might otherwise be closed by the annual conference to continue to sustain a community life together. This could bring new life to existing congregations and serve as a tool for renewal.

I believe that this will be an important way of rethinking existing congregations in The United Methodist Church.

How do you respond to this idea?

This is part of a series of posts about micro churches. You can read more in the next several days at these posts:

Micro Church: College (3 of 5)

I believe that over the next several years, micro churches will become an important part of renewal within The United Methodist Church.

I believe that colleges and universities have great potential to be a place where micro churches will flourish. In residence halls and public spaces, there exists a community that is already in close proximity. College is a time when persons are willing to try new things and an invitation on the spur of a moment can have significant impact. I believe that existing United Methodist campus ministries could work to equip leaders to lead micro churches wherever they live and have a significant impact on the life of the university. This removes the need for a central meeting place and creates the opportunity for students to practice hospitality where they already spend times with friends – where they live.

I believe that could have a significant impact on the future of campus ministry in The United Methodist Church.

How do you respond to this idea?

This is part of a series of posts about micro churches. You can read more in the next several days at these posts:

Micro Church: Home (2 of 5)

I believe that over the next several years, micro churches will become an important part of renewal within The United Methodist Church.

I believe that homes have great potential to be a place where micro churches will flourish. It may be easier to invite someone that is new to faith into one’s home rather than to an existing church building. Micro churches can spread through neighborhoods and small towns as a result of the existing relationships between neighbors and friends. The home is a place where it may be easy to practice hospitality and make others feel welcome. Homes were where Christians in the early centuries met.

I believe that homes will again become an important place of worship for The United Methodist Church.

How do you respond to this idea?

This is part of a series of posts about micro churches. You can read more in the next several days at these posts:

Micro Church: Renewing the Mainline Church (1 of 5)

I believe that over the next several years, micro churches will become an important part of renewal within The United Methodist Church.

Micro churches will be supported by existing congregations that use web technology to live stream worship, such as http://live.cor.org. These existing churches will encourage and equip local leaders of a group of 10 to 20 people that will:

  • “proclaim the gospel, seek, welcome and gather persons into the body of Christ” (2008 Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, ¶122)
  • “nurture persons in Christian living” (2008 Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, ¶122)
  • incorporate care, discipleship and stewardship.
  • have a process of raising up and equipping leaders.
  • seek to grow and multiply within 12 months.

As these micro churches continue to multiply they create a network.

As networks of micro churches continue to grow, leadership will increasingly move to the local level until a self sustaining network exists.

This solution creates new places for new people, develops leaders and leverages existing resources to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

How do you respond to this idea?

This is part of a series of posts about micro churches. You can read more in the next several days at http://andrewconard.com.