What type of church are you trying to plant?

Often we are asked what the church in Portsmouth will look like. People wonder what type of music or venue we’ll use. We put little emphasis on the aesthetics and much emphasis on the purpose of a church-plant. Here’s our answer broken down:

  1. We will plant a church that seeks to reach people in all walks of life with the gospel.
    • Simple, right? But it’s not. People complicate the gospel with with preferences and predetermined ideas about who they reach, what the church looks like, how the worship is expressed, etc. We could care less what type of building we meet in. We have our own musical preferences, but it won’t hurt our feelings if our musical tastes take a back seat. We love 200 year old stone church buildings, but we’re not afraid of meeting in a rented facility for years. What we are very passionate about is the gospel. Is it being proclaimed in the music, the reading, the preaching, the lives of the leaders?
    •  Jesus reached people in all walks of life. That’s our goal: to build a community of believers that is diverse culturally, economically and generationally. We desire to establish a community of radical followers of Jesus that are being conformed to His image.
  2. It’s our desire to plant a culturally diverse church, that understands when we all give a little (culturally and regarding our comfort zones), we gain a lot.
    • Our outreach will be deliberate and focused on all demographics.
    • This will also require diversity in leadership. I am not trying to be the white boy pastor that tells black folks how to improve (whiten) their lives. I need leadership that is as diverse as the community itself. 
    • This will look different than the average suburban anglo church where most young caucasians would feel comfortable. There will be tension as cultures and stereotypes clash, but it’ll be worth it.
  3. We have audacious dreams of supporting local charities and ministries in the region.
    • We want to support the Southeast Foodbank of Virginia and CHKD in a big way financially. We want to put our money where our mouth is and be known as a church that’s generous in it’s community.
    • We will partner with charities like EDMARC, Hope Charitable Services, and the local Union Mission. Volunteering and partnering with local ministries will allow us to show them we aren’t coming here to attempt to change a city by ourselves. There’s good work on the ground already and we’re here to support those efforts.
  4. We hope to influence students.
    • We plan to start college campus outreach within 2 years of launching.
    • College campuses are the most diverse sections of most cities.
    • Our goal is a Bible study on campus at the ODU tri-cities campus in Portsmouth, TCC campus in Portsmouth and ODU main campus in Norfolk.
    • We will mentor students into dynamic, gospel-centered business and culture leaders.
  5. We desire to serve.
    • We hope to equip our people to serve inside our community, as well as around the world.
    • We want to be a church that supports missions financially by making big sacrifices.
    • We want to partner with international missionaries to take the gospel around the world.

How do you do all that?

 

I know, “…great set of dreams Marc, but sounds unlikely at best.” This won’t take place over night. We have benchmarks we hope to meet (self-supporting in 5 years, college campus ministry in 2 years, launch a new church plant within 7 years, etc), but we are dedicated to these goals. Here’s what we’re doing right now:


  • We’re trusting God. He’s already lining up a young, diverse crew to help us launch. The majority of people desiring to plant with us are young, single dudes. That’s the least likely bunch to find at church.
  • We’re meeting with local leaders. I’ve been meeting with local pastors of many denominations and backgrounds. I’m seeking their advice and prayer support. We know we don’t have the answers. We just have the opportunity to serve and give. That’s what we want to do.
  • We’re raising up financial and prayer partners. We’re currently fundraising for a few specific things: church plant expenses, and launch costs. We’re about 20% of the way to our goal of $2500/month for expenses (rental facility, insurance, outreach). We’ve raised about 22% toward our launch costs goal of $50,000.

PRAY PRAY PRAY for us.

click here to partner with us financially

Grow your church quick: just another get rich quick scheme

We see them everyday. Signs, ads, commercials for stuff that is too good to be true. The majority of scams and schemes out there tell you they can make you an over night success. Many people believe these infomercials, emails, and websites, because they desire so badly to get rich quick. Others usually refer to these people ignorant, foolish, simple-minded, etc. Here are a few verses dealing with obtaining wealth.

Proverbs 23:4
Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it.

Proverbs 28:19-20
He who tills his land will have plenty of food, but he who follows empty pursuits will have poverty in plenty. A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished.

Proverbs 14:15
The naive believes everything, but the sensible man considers his steps.

Now back to my title. What does this have to do with church? I believe the great majority of church leaders and pastors are falling for a spiritual version of the get rich quick scheme: grow you church quick. We watch videos about huge mega churches building new campuses and begin to desire to see our ministry do the same. We start reading about what other churches have done, and attempt to mimic their “success.” Millions of dollars are spent every year on book, conferences, resources, etc to show us how to grow our churches quickly. Don’t misunderstand me here, I am all for books, conferences and bettering ourselves and our ministries, but I am afraid many are walking away convinced success, growth, increase, can be built up in a year. Am i saying God can’t grow your church? No. Am I saying God doesn’t want to increase the kingdom? No. I am saying if we aren’t careful we’ll get so caught up in the “stuff” that goes along with growth, we’ll start chasing growth, buildings, success, and everything else except the main thing: growing the kingdom. Here’s my point: when a person starts trusting a scam, they start making poor decisions. When we as leaders start trusting in programs, ideas, processes instead of the power of the Holy Spirit, we will start making unwise decisions.

What is the goal? To grow the Kingdom? Let’s ask a tough question. For the kingdom to grow does your church have to have a 5 million dollar sanctuary? Or could your church send 100 missionaries and 5 million dollars around the world and do more for the kingdom? Kingdom mindedness takes the emphasis, glory, pride, possessions, away from us.

The sobering truth is this: anything worthwhile, takes a while. Apple, Microsoft, GE, Toyota, and Walmart didn’t become huge companies in one year, it took real hard work over a long period of time (sometimes generations). The hard truth is: impact takes time. People who want to get rich quick are always changing their minds. One day they want to start a business, the next they want to invest in a penny stock. They don’t stay focused on one thing long enough for it to work out for them. Many churches are acting the same way. One year the push is Upward sports, until it gets tough to find workers and growth didn’t happen as quickly as they’d hoped. The next year their main push is starting a new ministry (a new banner and cool name is all you need right?). The following year they quit that and start a TV ministry, but as that gets expensive and again nothing happens immediately, so they bail on it too. Ministry shouldn’t be a multiple personality disorder. It only shows our weakness for desiring quick easy success. There is nothing wrong with trying new things, but our generation is so addicted to instant gratification that we simply aren’t willing to wait on God to move and grow His church. We feel we must DO something NOW.  Our mission should remain unchanged as we use new methods over the long haul to grow the kingdom of God. Besides Jesus said He would build His church, so why do we exhaust ourselves attempting to do what only He can do?

What the Burrito taught me about church

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burrito loco- basically a fajita burrito smothered in white cheese

Casie and I recently discovered this awesome little mexican joint in Chesapeake called Rancho Grande. We tried the Burrito Loco-easily the best piece of mexican food I have ever eaten. Casie and I were enjoying our meal when I thought, “this is my new place for mexican.” My mind is always on church planting, so I got to thinking about this burrito in relation to church. Three ideas came to mind.

1. Location and facilities are over-rated.

The place wasn’t the hippest, most modern restaurant in the newest development in town. It was a simple little mexican restaurant with great service and excellent food. Too often churches and church people convince themselves that their church would grow if they just had a better location, or a bigger better building with all the bells and whistles. People will look past your facilities’ shortcomings if you have something to offer them spiritually and relationally.

2. Friendly service is a must, when dealing with people.

Rancho Grande gets you seated fast, and before you know it there is a bowl of chips some salsa and a drink within arm’s reach. But most importantly, the servers and staff are extremely friendly. I have had great service many times, but friendly service is a rarity these days. Sometimes I find myself so focused on getting the service ready on Sundays that before I know it, I have walked right by visitors and regulars in such a hurry I fail to greet them. People are used to churches pulling off great services. What they are looking for is churches that love people in a great way.

3. Most importantly, keep the main thing the main thing-Nothing matters more than the FOOOOD!

If everything else went great and my Burrito Loco sent me home sick, which part do you think I would remember. Rancho Grande does alot of things right, but they keep the main thing the main thing- food. Many churches have gotten so caught up in being the latest, greatest, most high-tech (nothing wrong with these things- we should strive for excellence in everything),  that they have made the main thing the “not-so main thing.” If every aspect of our church is awesome, but we don’t keep the main thing the main thing, we can count on failure. We can’t allow Christ to take a back seat to the tools we use to preach Him. Here’s my point if people come and enjoy themselves but don’t get fed, we haven’t accomplished what God has called us to do. When we keep Christ the main thing, everything else just doesn’t seem to matter as much.

Just my thoughts as I ate an awesome burrito one evening.

I eat really fast

I really enjoy eating, fast...I think it takes me 3-4 minutes to down this burrito

the best feeling

the best feeling- being full of good food