Church Planting Models: Multi-housing communities

We love reading about church planting. We are always researching to find out what people are doing to start new churches in places people might often overlook. CrossPointe has met in a house, a hotel, an elk’s lodge, and finally a funeral home. However, there are numerous models for starting a church in a school, rec center, or even outdoors. Over the next few posts I want to look at a few of the models for starting a church. Today I want to focus on the multi-housing model.

What is a multi-housing community church model? Until a few days ago I had never heard it called this. It is simply when a group of people start a church inside a Multi-housing community (Private Apartment Communities, Condominium Communities/Community Associations, Manufactured Housing Communities, Public Housing Communities Senior Housing Communities). In this model, a church planter moves into one of these communities with the intentions of renting the cummunity center/party room/conference center/clubhouse that many of these communities have. Many of these community centers have parking for outside visitors as well. The goal is to plant a church within walking distance of 1,000+ people.

Why use the multi-housing community church model? Here are some stats from NAMB (SBC Mission Board): An estimated 57 percent of all people in North America reside in multi-housing – apartments, expensive high-rises, mobile home parks, condominiums and townhouses.  An estimated 95 percent of them are lost without Christ. That works out to over 150 million people living in High rise, apartment, mobile home, and public housing communities. Most of these communities are closed. You can’t solicit, invite, or even direct mail most of them. Many are gated, walled, and closed off as a community within a community. This church planting model places the church community within a smaller community inside the bigger community. 1 out of every 2 new housing projects in America is using a community based model. It is quickly becoming the wave of the future, and people are starting to prefer living in a smaller community within a big city. The good news is: people want community- something the church has.

Another reason to use this model is the cost. If a community is looking to rent their clubhouse, it is usually very affordable. Most of them are large enough for 50+ people. The management is key. If you can form a relationship with the office staff this will help immensely.

Who is using this model? Many denominations have started using this model for new church plants, as well as a mother church models (a church adopts an apartment community in the area, and begins mid week Bible studies in the apartment community). In our denomination I have known of a few missionary teams using this model lately. One team in particular is Jeff Goodman and Josh Bennett. Recently, I asked Jeff a few question about their church plant in Marana AZ. Marana is 15 miles north of Tuscon, where 90% of the population is unchurched. They started holding Bible studies in an apartment community that both Jeff and Josh moved their families into. They are not even a year into the plant and are seeing God move in a mighty way.

Here are Jeff’s answers to some questions I had about the church model.

When you guys moved your families into the apartment community, did you know you were going to start using their facilities to meet in? Was that your goal? Yes, we moved in here planning to use their facilities. It is a community within a community. We see people getting their mail, walking their dogs, playing outside, etc. We were upfront with the office staff when we moved here about our plans, none of them went to church but they were very helpful. Building community even through a church plant helps them retain leasers.

 Is it hard to rent the facility in the community? Are there times when it is over-booked?  Nobody ever rents the facilities here but us. We have had superbowl parties, christmas parties etc.

Does the apartment community model have some drawbacks?
 

 

 Can people from outside the apartment community join the Bible study (are there places for them to park)? We have plenty of parking in the main lot and overflow if we need it inside the complex. People are allowed to come from outside the complex.

How many people at your Bible studies live in the apartment community? We are around 70% apartment people to 30% outside people. 90% of our group are unsaved and far from God, but that is the type of people we are looking for, the lost! They love each other are thrilled to have met friends and work super hard. They are all very excited about helping us launch our church about a mile away. We will still have several things at our apt. complex rven after our launch.

Is it expensive? We pay $50 per use to rent the community building it is normally 75$ but our apt. Manager got us a 25$ break and we did not even ask them to do that. We have a large open area with a kitchen, a conference room and a movie room, which we use for a nursery along with 2 nice bathrooms.

What’s been the hardest part when it comes to planting a church in Marana? Hardest part-meeting new people is always a challenge, but living here at the apt. complex has truly helped. The city of Marana told us we could not post a sign about our bible study on or near the sidewalk it is their property. The office manager at our apt. complex told us to put it next to their sign by the road. She said Marana doesn’t own that property. No other problems from the city of Marana.

What are some highlights so far for you guys?  All 3 of the office staff now attend our bible study and Jessica (ast. Manager) was our 1st baptism. We love that 90% of our people are unchurched, those are the people we want to reach!

To find out more about Jeff and Josh and the Marana church visit their website http://www.themaranaproject.com/

 

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the current crisis in youth ministry

When I was in high school I attended youth group activities quite often. I was warned that at age 18 many teenagers leave church. I watched at age 16 though as many of my friends became disinterested in church. The exodus used to occur at 18-20 years of age, but now I am seeing signs that kids are leaving church at age 15 and 16. The church has lost its ability to connect with teenagers and even kids today. What has changed? Is the church doomed? I believe there are many answers to these questions. I also believe that we don’t want to hear some of the real reasons kids are leaving the church. I have three questions I believe we need to answer honestly.

Why is the church trying to compete with sports and activities?

 Over and over I see programs at churches aimed at kids who want to play sports. The thought is “if you’re gonna play sports, why not do it at our church?” Many kids programs at churches rely heavily on using games and sports to keep kids involved. Churches are investing lots of man hours, money, and space in being the hip new place to play sports. When did the role of the church transform from teaching kids about God, to training kids to be athletes with a hint of spirituality. When did we stop going into the sports world as coaches making a difference, and start sectioning off our own little christian leagues with few if any lost people?  When did Sunday morning become this big game we play with kids? We have themed rooms, professional stages, bright fancy areas for games, etc. When God sees us turning kids ministry into a carnival, do we really think He is pleased? Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for top notch, first rate kids programs at church- if discipleship is the goal. With all the effort we have put into making kids and youth ministry in general more fun and exciting, why haven’t we seen a decrease in the numbers of young people exiting our churches. We aren’t just another fun place. We aren’t just another youth sports league. We are the church. Our job is to connect people with Christ, and teach them about His Word. Sadly not everyone will stick it out, but does this give us the right to fun it up to keep the numbers up? We are sacrificing the minds of real dedicated Christian kids to entertain the kids who just want to play soccer, dodge ball, or duck, duck goose. We’ve added so much stuff and fluff; the message is getting lost in the mix. We have to remember who and what we are, and what we are called to do.

Why is it that the role of a youth pastor is usually entrusted to someone who either has no children or is currently raising their children?

 Wouldn’t it make more sense to entrust this position to someone with a little bit of experience with raising kids. Imagine a youth pastor helping parents raise teenagers, and explaining how to deal with a difficult 13 year old girl using the illustration of how he dealt with his daughter when she was 13. Instead I am 25 with no kids, trying to help people with decades more experience than me. Sadly by the time most guys have the experience, they’ve moved on into Associate or Head Pastor Positions. I admire guys who are 40, 50, and older who still work with teenagers. Because ultimately it’s the parents we are trying to help. Many churches have this idea that the youth or children’s pastor should be a kind of second parent to the kids at the church. The truth is my job as a youth pastor is to equip the parents to train their kids to be Godly young Christians. I can’t raise a child or teenager in 4-5 hours a week. If a child is going to make it, there has to be a solid home life backing up what is being taught at church. The same principle is true in schooling. A teacher can’t raise good kids, even with the 45 hours a week they have with the children. Kids are capable of being taught any and everything. So the question is what are Mom and Dad teaching them at home? Next what are they being taught at school? And finally what are they being taught at church? I decide what they are taught at church. I can only recommend Mom and Dad what to teach them at home. I have no say in what they learn at school. How do we as youth Pastors overcome this challenge? I believe we need to involve Mom and Dad as much as possible. Tell them what you see hear by and about their kids. Have regular meetings with parents and kids to explain the goals of raising good Christian kids. Ultimately we have to reach Mom and Dad and help them be the best parents they can be with God’s help. It won’t be easy. It’s not the 50’s anymore. Most homes have two parents working at least two full time jobs. Kids have more activities than to fill their schedule than ever before. Parents are busier than they have ever been. We need to lift these parents up in prayer and let them know we are rooting for them.
Are we willing to deal with the silent sins in our churches?


There are some sins you hear people talk about all the time. However, there is one sin I rarely, probably never hear mentioned. Pornography is one of those silent sins. We preach against lying, stealing, adultery, murder, drugs, drunkenness, etc. However, over 50% of Christian men struggle with pornography. Close to 51% of Pastors say internet Porn is a real temptation, while 37% say it is a current struggle. Right at 28% of those admitting to sexual addiction are women. Two-thirds of divorces cite the internet as a cause. Let those numbers set in for a minute. We preach and teach on things some are dealing with while the high majority of sin goes unquestioned. Now consider that people don’t just wake up addicted to porn. There is a first time for everything. The adult film industry says that 20-30% of its audience is children. The average age for exposure to porn for the first time is 11. Over 70% of teen girls and 66% of teen boys admit to posting sexually suggestive content. Over 70% of kids get a cell phone within 18 months of their 9th birthday. In a poll of 300 girls, 30% of them aged 9-15 admit to sexting.
The internet is available not just at home anymore, but on your cell phone. A child can view porn on their ipod with an internet connection. I know of a boy whose mom had no internet, and no cell phone. However, he used his ipod’s wi-fi to pick up his neighbors router, and would view porn for hours every night. We have to realize the stakes are higher than ever. We can’t be there 24/7 to watch over them. Therefore, we have to teach them the dangers of porn. The talk used to be sitting your kid down and explaining sex. I’m afraid today we need to start talking earlier about something else-porn. Your child will have plenty of opportunities to view it. Let them know early how dangerous it is.
The real reason we don’t deal with it is simple- because many of us are involved with it. We get nervous talking about it, because we are guilty of it. We have to get ourselves clean, and prepare our kids for the most abundant source of defeat they will ever face. We talk to our kids at church regularly about the dangers of phones, internet, texting etc. It’s real, we need to be real about it too.
So back to the original question, “Why are kids leaving the church?” If teens struggle with a sin (like porn) they feel they can’t overcome, and no one will talk about it, why would they stay. They see the hypocrisy in a church that claims to help people, but won’t help them with the sin that is crippling them. Porn is eating our kids for lunch, and we sit idly by ignoring it. It’s not going away. In fact it gets more and more powerful as technology advances. We are experiencing the shift to 3D, so is porn! HD is crystal clear but the next wave is 2k and 3k, cameras with 3x the resolution of an HDTV and 10X the resolution of old TVs. Porn will be there, enhancing the experience they have to offer through social media, internet, phones, TV, Ipads, etc. The enemy has found a silver bullet for ruining kids, adults, marriages, homes etc. He’s winnig because we aren’t even fighting. We have to stand up for our people. Church, deal with the sin in your pews! Your people will thank you.

turning a funeral home into a church

A while back we had our first service in the new building. 92 people gathered at 2460 Pruden Boulevard for our first ever Sunday morning service in the building. The last few weeks have been busy. We spent a lot of time building, painting, hanging drywall, installing new electrical, etc. That day it all came together and it looked great. I got to thinking, there are a lot of churches looking for a place to meet, so here are some ideas we’ve run across recently:

Funeral Homes

Movie Theaters

Rec Centers

Schools

Local bowling alleys

College auditoriums

Skating rinks

Convetion Centers

Hotels

Here are some pictures of the process of turning the funeral home into a church.

which denominations are growing/declining in America?

Report from the Religion News Service

(RNS) While mainline Protestant churches in the U.S. continue to experience decades-long decline, the memberships of Pentecostal traditions are on the rise, according to new figures compiled by the National Council of Churches.

Mainline Protestant churches that have seen a fall in membership since the 1970s continued their decline; the Presbyterian Church (USA) reported the greatest membership drop (2.6 percent) of the 25 largest denominations.

The membership declines in mainline churches led to a 1 percent decrease in total U.S. church membership, to 145.8 million.

Pentecostal churches make up four of the 25 largest churches, and both the Assemblies of God and the Church of God (Cleveland, Tenn.) increased in membership. Only six of the 25 largest memberships increased over the previous year.

Jehovah’s Witnesses experienced the greatest growth percentage overall, gaining 4.37 percent according to the yearbook. Several historically black denominations continued a years-long practice of not submitting fresh figures.

The 10 largest Christian bodies reported in the 2011 yearbook are:

1. The Catholic Church: 68.5 million, up 0.57 percent.

2. Southern Baptist Convention: 16.1 million, down .42 percent.

3. The United Methodist Church: 7.8 million, down 1 percent.

4. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: 6 million, up 1.42 percent.

5. The Church of God in Christ: 5.5 million, no membership updates reported.

6. National Baptist Convention, USA: 5 million, no membership updates reported.

7. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: 4.5 million, down 1.96 percent.

8. National Baptist Convention of America, 3.5 million, no membership updates reported.

9. Assemblies of God: 2.9 million, up .52 percent.

10. Presbyterian Church (USA): 2.7 million, down 2.61 percent.

What’s up in Suffolk

Hey everybody,

It’s been crazy around here lately and I just realized it’s been 2 months since we updated our blog! Thought I’d let you in on what’s been going on at CrossPointe. 2011 is off to a great start. We have seen an increase in giving at the church. Right now we really need to get our $200,000 down payment 5 year loan paid off. It’s killing us with an almost $4,000/month payment. Some good news is that we have been awarded almost $30,000 from home missions to go toward paying it off. Want some more great news? Casie and I just got our statement from Home Missions. October and December 0f 2010 were two of the biggest months our missions account has EVER seen. October came in at 167% and December came in at 145% For the first time in a long time we have a little bit of a surplus! After spending most of 2010 with an empty account, it’s amazing to now have a little left over after 2010. He knows what we need, when we need it.

God has been good to our ministry in alot of ways lately. Our Teen class on Sunday mornings is now averaging 15 a week. This is up from our average of 10 a week. Awanas is also off to a great start this winter. We had one Sunday night (when Awanas meets) with over 75 people! It’s been great to see our kids and Teenagers growing in Christ. Our attendence is holding strong in the 80’s even in the midst of a chilly winter.

I want to ask you guys to pray for a few needs we have right now. Please pray for some converts who have now openly declared they no longer believe in God. They are very friendly and want to remain close. Please pray God would show Himself to this couple. Please also pray for us as we strive to pay off the down payment. If we can shed that debt, and  increase giving by 50% we’ll be very close to being a self-supporting work. Thanks for all your prayers and support. You guys are the best!

Marc and Casie