The Church Plant We’re Not Planting

I guess you could say that we’re not going to be church planters after all. At least that’s not what God is calling us to. We’re still moving to Mt. Vernon. God has called us to that place and the people there and their culture.

The process has been a struggle, that’s for sure. We have been struggling to align what God is calling us to and the current prescribed church planting best practices. Church planting in this day has a pretty consistent formula. It goes something like this…feel called, consult mentors, be assessed, improve on the weak areas, fund raise, admin stuff (start your business kind of stuff), gather 40 people (small groups/community groups/missional communities/etc.), buy your trailer and all your set-up for Sunday services, hold preview services, and then launch your weekly Sunday service/gathering.

This prescribed way seems to be universal right now, even across denominational lines. But the thing is…it doesn’t seem to be gelling in our hearts and with our call. It’s certainly what most church planters are doing and how most church plants are happening.

I need you to take it back and think old school Sunday school for a minute. We actually feel more aligned with, and would probably call ourselves, missionaries. I’m hoping this comes across in a vintage sort of way, but I have a feeling it sounds outdated and lame. It does to me too, truth be told.

However lame it is, that’s where we’re at. We want to move to Mt. Vernon and love people, engage their culture, love the things they love, hurt when they hurt, be a light to their (our) city, and live our lives with them. So, if that makes us missionaries, then so be it.

We want to gather with people and be part of a faith community. We want to live the Gospel in word and deed. We want to be part of a community of people that serve and sacrifice for each other, the saints and the yet-to-be-saints. We want to walk with people on their faith journey…no matter where they’re at.

And in time, that will probably lead to larger worship gatherings, aka, a Sunday service of sorts. But it probably won’t look very typical. And it’ll be messy for sure.

We’ll gather in community
Real people with real stories
Worship with music and art and each other
Communion, the breaking of bread,
Preaching and teaching, but think Ted Talks
Confession and repentance                                                                                              Celebrating and Parties…good parties with wine and other strong drink

But not alone and certainly not mostly on Sunday. How much time, energy, and effort do most churches put towards their Sunday morning gathering? I’m a numbers girl, so roll with me for a minute. Let’s say the average church service lasts 1.5 hours. And then lets say that the volunteers and staff spend about 3-4 hours at the church building on Sunday morning (especially if there are 2 services or Sunday School). So lets say 4 hours on Sunday morning for the time spent at church. 7 days/week * 24 hours/day = 168 hours/week. 4 hours of the 168 hours in a week spent at church on Sunday morning. That’s 2.4% of the week. 2.4%, folks. And how much energy and effort are spent by staff, volunteers, etc. during the week to prepare for that time?

You see, it just seems backwards that churches spend so much time preparing for the 2.4%. What about discipleship, what about life, what about hard times, meals for new families, meals for families with new ones, meals for loved ones grieving, what about supporting each other when times are messy and you need to phone a friend, what about parties and celebrations and life events and school events and community events? When is the church being discipled and trained and walked with on the other 97.6% of their week…which translates to most of their lives. 97.6% of peoples’ time is not spent at the church building. How is the church loving the saints and the lost during the 97.6%??

Well, we’re going to try to make some adjustments to account for the rest of peoples’ weeks. That’s why things will look a little different for us. It may take us who knows how long to get to a large gathering. It certainly won’t look like a church plant or what most people call church. Our hearts are longing for a different kind of church. We’re heartbroken by the lonely and those facing the hardest shit of their lives alone. We want to be in the trenches. We want to love Jesus and love people. And we’re doing it, I guess, the old fashioned way.

–Chad & SarahFae