May 15, 2008

Church Planting Info

Since we have announced our plans to church plant in Virginia, many people have understandably had questions for us. Of course, alot of them are unanswered even for us. But I thought I'd try to answer a few of the most commonly asked questions. If you have any more, leave us a comment and we'll answer them in a following post. I wanted to do this in case any of you are seriously interested in praying for us or (in my wildest dreams) God has laid some interest on your heart to be about joining us!! 

What the heck is church planting anyway? 

Church planting is a fancy way of saying starting a church from the ground up.  Here are some facts we have found about why church planting is necessary in the U.S.:
  • There are 120 million secular undiscipled people in the U.S.
  • The U.S. is the largest mission field in the Western hemisphere.
  • The U.S. is the fifth largest mission field on earth.
  • North America is the only continent where the church is not growing.
  • Church planting is the most effective way to reach the unreached.
  • New churches grow faster than established churches.
  • New churches help keep up with population growth.
  • New churches are more likely to enlist people in Kingdom advancement
Church planting is concerned primarily with reaching unbelievers with the gospel and incorporating them into a community of believers who then go out and reach others. In other words, we're not trying to start a church that takes Christians from other established churches. 

How did this come about? And why Charlottesville?
Good question. Sometimes I don't even know how this happened or where it came from, but we are confident this is the leading of God in our lives. It started about a year ago. We noticed that our hearts were growing for the church as a whole, not just one area (although we severely love college ministry). Over the past two years, several men in ministry had said things to Kyle about possibly church planting and it really began to come up in our hearts in August. We went to Glorieta for Student Week and were just bombarded (it seemed) with talks and Scripture on the church. We went to a church planting conference and sat and talked for hours about how we really felt this was in our future, but we thought it would be alot further in our future. Probably 3 weeks after that, God made it very clear that it wasn't for the far future. So we began praying about locations. For months we kept saying to each other, "How in the world are we supposed to know where we're supposed to go?" We just talked about where we would want to live and what kind of people we wanted to reach: a college town with an influential university, about 200,000 people, close to a major metropolitan area, a great place to raise our family, and a city with a clear need for a new church and the gospel. Through those criteria, we found Charlottesville (with a little help from Wikipedia) and were immediately intrigued. I know it sounds crazy. But when we called the convention there, they said they were actually looking and wanting for a couple to come and plant in Charlottesville because of the great need. AND the convention there exists solely to help start new churches, mentor church planters, etc.

So we went to visit and, above all else, walked away with a definite understanding of the need for the gospel in Charlottesville. It is a beautiful city. In fact, it was named the #1 place to live in America a few years back. It is the home of the University of Virginia, an elite public school. It's a college town with an arts and music scene. It's about 200,000 people and about 2 hours from D.C. Great schools, great place to raise a family. See how this is all coming together? It definitely fit our checklist, but we needed to hear from the Lord if this was Him.

Through time, God has made it clear to us, not only that we are supposed to be about the work of church planting, but that we are to do it among the college students, young professionals, and young families in Charlottesville, VA.

When are you going?

As soon as we raise enough support!

What will you be doing when you get there?
I always imagine that we'll unpack all our boxes, hang the pictures on the wall, and then sit and stare and say, "what now?" I'm sure there will be some of that. But basically, Kyle will be the lead pastor, which means his job will be to meet people, build relationships with them, share Christ with them, and invite them into our church. My job will be to be a disciple, a wife, and a mom, and to do much the same thing: meet people as I do life and share Christ  with them. The church will obviously be small at first and will meet in our home until we move into some sort of space that we'll rent (such as a school). 

What can we do to help you? 
I'm so glad you asked! There are several ways you, our friends and family, can be a part of all this:
  • First of all and most importantly, we need people who will pray for us throughout the whole process. In the near future, we'll be putting together an email update list of people who want to receive prayer request updates.
  • We also need financial support. Most of this will come from churches (like Central) who see church planting as an important ministry and agree to support us for 3 years until we can be self-sustaining. This financial support will pay our salary and all the costs involved with starting the church and renting space, etc. 
  • Finally, we are asking people to come with us! If you are even slightly interested, I would suggest getting a book on church planting and see if that sparks anything for you. And of course you can always come talk to us and we'll persuade you :) Most people laugh when we say something about coming with us, but we are serious about it. We desire people to come who are like-minded about sharing the gospel, having intimate community among believers, being missional in the community, and making disciples to join us.
So there is my book. Hope you made it this far! Let me know your thoughts and questions!