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/