Let's just have a conversation about this church plant.
February 18, 2012 by Cody Parman 1 comments
The Journey Church of Marietta
A little about me…
A little about the Journey vision…
A lot of questions answered…
There are so many things that need discussed when walking down this road! I’d love to have a chance to sit down with everyone and unload what’s been swirling in my head over this past year. To be honest, if you got me started, I don’t know if you’d ever get me to stop. So imagine this paper as discussion between you and I. I’ll take some common church plant questions and provide you with my answers. Thanks for giving me the time of day!
Why does this area need a church plant and why are you planting it?
Would it be enough for me to say that I want to tell people about the gospel of Jesus Christ with every fiber of my being? What if I told you that I firmly feel God calling me to plant this church here in Marietta right now? God’s calling and direction in my life has lead me to this moment and I want to be obedient to His will in my life. I hope I don’t need any reasons beyond this to plant this church in Marietta. However, for the sake of discussion, let’s consider some other reasons that are certainly worth mentioning.
I was called to this area seven years ago when the Lord brought me to my youth pastor position at First Baptist Church Williamstown, WV. My 7 years of experience in this area combined with a demographic study of local churches has given me a sense of what the greatest needs are here. In the past 5 years, several churches here have experienced a considerable decline in attendance and participation. There are several reasons for a decline in this area according to what I have seen, experienced, and from talking with other area pastors.
A for reason decline that we simply can't deny would have to be attributed to “church hurt”. Like it or not, this region is riddled with churches that have terrible stories of division, dissension, and hatred. I don’t like these unfortunate circumstances either as I feel they have left a lot of spiritual disorientation in and around our communities. I get the sense that so many people here have simply given up on ever expecting a positive church experience. Believers here want and need to be a part of the body of Christ, yet trusting the “church” has become somewhat of an obstacle.
Some churches here are beginning to fade or even shut their doors for the last time. Some church buildings are still clinging to life with a handful of people in attendance. Part of the reason for this could be the attachment to tradition. I don’t despise tradition at all. I just despise tradition that excludes Jesus and the leading of the Holy Spirit.
With that said, the goal isn’t to be a trendsetter. I don’t feel the need to put on a show or wear jeans with holes in them to reach people. The goal is to preach the gospel to a group of people who need spiritually fed. With the relationships that I’ve made and with the positive relationship that I have with my current church, we have an amazing opportunity to be intentional about reaching people in and around Marietta Ohio.
By the time we plant in September of 2012, we will have had just under 2 years of praying and planning dedicated to this movement. Thus far, God has used this time to make it very clear to Amanda and I that this is what we are called to do. God has confirmed this to us through prayer, circumstances, family, friends, as well as a blessing and affirmation from our current church leadership.
What do you see as the vision for this church plant and how will it affect the surrounding culture as the Gospel redeems it?
The ultimate vision is to simply be a part of a body of believers who are all about Jesus. We want to preach the gospel of Jesus and infiltrate every corner of this area as the body of Christ. One way we want to do this is to first plant a church the right way (and trust me when I say we’re still working out what that really means).
Here’s what we want it to mean for us:
Out of a heart from Jesus, we want to be very outwardly focused. We want to be a church that really benefits the community that it’s in as we tell them about our savior. In addition to saying that we care about them, we want to show them too. Let’s work towards being the type of church that partners with, supports, encourages, and serves the communities we live in. John 13:35 says, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” So let’s love each other as well as our community.
In addition to this mindset, we want to raise up godly people to send out into the world! Churches should multiply and divide, right? The body of Christ needs to multiply and grow with the intent of sending people out for more growth in other areas. However, the word “division” isn’t usually seen as a positive term in regards to the church.
In this effort, we want to redeem the word “division”. We are in a wonderful position to do this in the Mid-Ohio Valley. What a great opportunity for a church (FBCW) to intentionally send us out to reach people who need Jesus. People haven’t seen this type of church activity in perhaps 100+ years in this area. There was a time when churches were booming here! Let’s create a culture in which people intentionally invest in other people. The motivation behind this investment of time is ultimately that we may share the good news of Jesus.
Lastly, we really just want everything we do to naturally point to Jesus. We want to speak the truth that we don’t have to look a certain way or own certain luxuries to be the church. We’re even entertaining the thought of perhaps never owning a building. Yet, it just can’t be about a building, a clever program, or thinking outside the box. Again, we don’t want to condemn tradition but rather speak that tradition and church without Jesus is worthless. The focus is not to “out-do”, compete with, or preach against any church in or around here at all. But rather, the goal is to be boldly, humbly, and truthfully all about Jesus.
Ok pastor boy, we get that you love Jesus. However, let’s talk some strategy here a little bit. Who do you want to reach and how do you suppose we do that?
Ok first of all, don’t call me pastor boy. However, yes let’s talk a little strategy here. It goes without saying that we want to reach the lost. We especially want to tell the people who don’t know about Jesus, about Jesus. With that said, I see roughly 5 people groups that we should target.
Young Families – I know all about being a young family. So many individuals in my age bracket just pass up on church, especially with kids in the equation. Life in this stage is already busy and can be pretty stressful. With that said, church needs to feel like relief/aid to the young family for it to be viewed as an asset to them as it should be those things. In addition to this, we want to eventually create a culture of older families investing in younger families.
Strategies for reaching young families:
1. Offer a vibrant Children’s ministry
2. Offer a Nursery
3. Small groups that cater to the young family
4. Emphasize a need for older families to intentionally invest in younger ones
5. Recruit older families to invest in younger families
6. Offer family friendly church programming, don’t overwhelm them
Children – We want a healthy children’s ministry high on our priority list. We want this ministry to be viewed as a major asset to young families. This is our tool to invest in the lives of kids and raise them up to bring glory to God with their lives. We want a safe, welcoming, and encouraging environment for our kids to grow in their knowledge and passion for Jesus.
Strategies for reaching children:
1. Cater to the needs of young families
2. Invest in the spiritual growth of young parents
3. Offer children’s ministry opportunities from the start
4. Be intentional about being an asset to the parents
5. Emphasize a need for older families to intentionally invest in younger ones
College – With Marietta College located near downtown Marietta, college ministry is something that churches in this area have to consider. So many students come to Marietta College each year in pursuit of a better future. Living away from family, a new environment, and the stress of studying are just a few reasons why college students need a church family perhaps more than ever in their life.
Strategies for reaching college:
1. Plant the church close to or on the campus
2. Find ways to serve the college students
3. Build relationships with faculty
4. Build relationships with on-campus parachurch ministries
5. Include & invite college students to be a part of the church
Dechurched – I don’t like it that this should even have to be considered a people group. However, like it or not this region is riddled with church splits for various reasons. Infidelities, deceit, power struggles, pride, and many other forms of sin have been used by Satan to tear apart and cause great division amongst brothers and sisters across this region. As a church plant out of First Baptist Church Williamstown, we will have such a great opportunity to set an example of selfless love rather than display a heart of competition birthed from insecurities. There are people in this area that have given up on the church, but we will refuse to give up on them.
Strategies for reaching the dechurched:
1. Remain nondenominational
2. Meet on neutral ground (not in a church building)
3. Casual dress environment, think & dream outside the box
4. Be sympathetic with, but discourage negativity towards other churches
5. Work to define the “church” as the body of Christ and not a building or denomination
Spiritually Stalled – We get the sense that this area is filled with the spiritually suppressed. As far as what’s suppressing them, the finger could be and is pointed in countless directions. We want people to stop pointing at everything else and start crying out to God with their lives. People need challenged to repent, take responsibility, and to live more intentionally and drastically for Jesus. We want to take risks and be willing to fail if necessary to reach people who need to hear about Jesus.
Strategies for reaching the spiritually stalled:
1. Challenge people
2. Promote an environment that condones extreme acts to glorify God
3. Cast vision and regularly communicate it
4. Teach that scripture is authoritative
5. Teach that the purpose of our existence is to glorify God
What kind of timeline are we talking about here?
I have been praying, preparing, and planning for this church plant since November of 2010. In the spring and summer of 2011 we began sharing this call with our family, church, and church leadership. As we continue this pursuit in 2012 we will begin to cast this vision to our community and start a launch team. The launch team will meet together once a month throughout the spring and summer, and finally launch in September of 2012.
There is obviously a lot to be accomplished in this amount of time. The primary goal of this launch meeting phase will be to build the launch team with people who feel called to help plant this church as well as with those who are unchurched. However, this phase will also give us time to find a meeting place (several options brewing at the moment), develop & fill our church leadership roles, replace my current youth pastor position, and get as strategic as necessary.
Pastor, I’m a detail type person. Can you get a little more specific about some your general goals during this 6-month launch phase?
Hey, I'm glad you’re a detail person because we have a lot of details that need addressed. On one hand, I don’t want to overwhelm everyone with a million details right off the bat. On the other hand, it’s time to start talking about the millions of details we have to consider. So, yes let’s get a little more specific. Here are 5 general details that we need to start tackling.
1. Develop a launch team of 30-50 committed adults. Our launch team meetings will take place at First Baptist Church of Williamstown. These meetings will be open to the church and our community to inform, cast vision, and develop our team for the launch in September.
2. We will use the launch team meetings to biblically layout the roles and structure of our elders and deacons. By the end of the spring, the goal is to have these people in place and ready for the launch in September.
3. During our 6-month launching phase, we will establish the elders of the church. The elders of The Journey will focus on these 3 key elements:
A. Shepherding the flock – Accountability, church discipline, and casting vision will be key components to nurturing and guiding the church. We want to develop a group of men who are humbly committed to these elements and ready to both gently and ferociously implement them into the DNA of the church.
B. Discipleship – The elders will be key in developing the discipleship of the church. In addition to preaching from the pulpit, we want to be very deliberate about nurturing one’s walk with Christ as well as biblical education.
C. Casting Vision – Through a commitment to prayer and scripture, the elders will lead the church in the direction that we feel God is calling us. We desire to be lead by the Holy Spirit. We will always be looking for ways in which we can serve our local communities, involve our church in missions, and ultimately share the gospel of Jesus in everything that we do. The elders will ensure that the gospel is central and the main agenda behind any act or thought that we carry out as the body.
4. Our 6-month launch phase will give the deacons of The Journey time to develop ministry goals and strategies for 3 specific areas:
A. Children’s Ministry – Developing a team to orchestrate and grow the children’s/nursery ministry program will be a top priority for the church. I have 3 little boys of my own and will naturally target young families.
B. Worship gatherings – A team lead by deacons will strive to make every worship experience very intentional and conducive to the spiritual growth of each attendee. They will work hard to provide and make the most of worship opportunities such as communion, baptism, tithes, praise & worship, and message series themes.
C. Assimilation – A team comprised of deacons will coordinate ways of involving church members and guests deeper into the life of the church. They will establish and strategically develop serving opportunities such as greeters, ushers, parking attendants, setup people, tear down people, follow up, and so on. In addition to serving opportunities, the deacons will genuinely long to see people get involved in the discipleship opportunities of the church. Encouraging the spiritual growth of attendees will be a crucial responsibility for the deacons.
5. Our launch phase will also give us time to raise financial support for the church. We will be contacting as many churches and people as possible to help support us and financially get the church off the ground. We are currently setting up our nonprofit status and will hopefully begin this part of the launch in March of 2012.
How do you plan to develop leadership that will change this area and beyond? What process do you have in place or will develop to take a person from unbeliever to believer, believer to disciple, disciple to leader, leader to elder, elder to church planter?
The responsibilities of the deacons and elders will naturally put us in a position in which someone can move from unbeliever to believer, believer to disciple, disciple to leader, leader to elder, elder to church planter. With that said, we want to create a mindset that says, “It’s NOT all about our church”. We want to be a part of a movement that starts in our community and infects the surrounding communities. This area is so in need of the gospel! It would be such an honor and humbling opportunity to someday be in a position in which we could raise up and send out elders into the surrounding communities as well as the world!
The only reason we would seek to be organized, intentional, deliberate, focused, and strategic about the ministries of the church is to raise up people to love and serve Jesus. It is with this in mind that we will develop the life of the church.
What do you have in place now (people, finances, and things such as equipment, website, place to meet, etc…)? What do you need to bring together in the near future? What do you want to have in place before your public launch?
As the launch team meetings begin, we will have several pieces of this puzzle to put into place. However, with the help of our church and relationships built over several years, we are in a great position to see these pieces fall into place in a short amount of time. God has placed this calling on our hearts and we are trusting that He will place this same calling on the hearts of others.
However, many conversations have already started to ignite regarding people, finances, equipment, website, meeting place, and much more. Unlike parachuting into an unknown community, we feel as though the leads and connections are already in place and that we simply need to pursue them.
What do you think is your biggest challenge with all of this?
The biggest challenge we see is simply the unknowns. First Baptist Church of Williamstown has never been a part anything like this before. For this reason, we have been very deliberate and patient in regards to casting vision to the church leadership and congregation. As zealous as we are to plant the church, we want to give people time to understand this calling and vision.
We see this as the biggest opportunity of our life! We desire to see God lifted up and glorified above all things. Our prayer is that anything that is accomplished goes to bring Him praise!
“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.”
(Hebrews 11:8 ESV)
Hey, now that was a great conversation! Let’s do this again sometime, only in person!
Love you guys,
Comments for this post have been disabled