This Sunday is the soft-launch of the fifth church plant Ann and I have helped launch since 1989. In our first, I served as the founding pastor of Pathway Church in Gresham, Oregon. It was my privilege to preach there last month, celebrating Christmas with a few old friends (along with many members who had no idea of our past role in the church). We later helped with two new churches in the San Francisco Bay Area and now our second new church in Southern California. City Connect Church will launch this Sunday as our newest effort to expand God’s kingdom by creating more local churches.
Our children caught the church-planting passion as well. One of our sons is a lay leader in a new church in downtown Portland, Oregon. Our daughter is married to a church planting pastor in Wyoming. All our children give generously to church planting and planters. They have invested countless hours helping new churches grow to stability. Why has our family been so committed to starting new churches?
First, we are a future-oriented family. We believe the best years for the American church are yet to come. We are not naïve—we see the cultural decline around us and the corresponding decline of civil religion and cultural Christianity. But these declines encourage us the true Church of Jesus Christ is set to prosper like never before!
Second, we are a results-oriented family. We want the kingdom of God to expand, which means lost people must be saved, baptized, and discipled. Churches swapping members does not enlarge God’s kingdom. A church reaching lost people does. New churches must reach lost people to survive, thus they have a sense of urgency about evangelism often dormant in established churches. New churches consistently have more new converts, in proportion to their members, than established churches. This result—more lost people being saved—is a primary reason for being committed to church planting.
Third, we are a simple-church family. We appreciate large churches—and hope the churches we plant grow to a significant size—but we don’t mistake size with health. Church plants are simple organisms. They fulfill the functions of a church without fancy facilities, large staffs, and complex programs. We are not enamored with what many seem to demand from their church experiences. We like simple-church.
Finally, we are an entrepreneurial family. We like taking risks and discovering new ways to share an old story. Risks often involve failure, so we are also a failure-friendly family. We often joke we know more ministry methods that don’t work than those that do! We are comfortable trying new approaches, knowing some of them won’t work—but excited when many of them do.
City Connect Church will launch in Fontana, California this weekend as an extension of our home church, Mt. Zion Church of Ontario. We thank God for another opportunity to be part of another new church!