We pass them every day on our commutes. Even if a new one pops up here and there, we rarely ask: Where do churches come from? We may be aware of our church’s humble beginnings, but as a congregation changes, there are fewer people who remember those beginnings. Ask one of All Saints’ founding members and you will realize that a lot went into starting something that we take for granted today. There are countless systems, paperwork, and documents to prepare, but before we begin to think of the red tape, we must first think about the people.
Dan Alger is the Canon for Church Planting for the Anglican Church in North America, and Janie and I are blessed to call him our coach. He recently told Janie and me, “Your job right now is to build relationships.” So that is what we’re doing. Each week we fill our calendars with coffees, meals, and events to build relationships. We have reconnected with old friends and made new ones. We have been in familiar spaces (Union University), and unfamiliar spaces (Lane College). We have had families around our dinner table and have been invited to gather around the tables of others. Some go to church already, some haven’t been in church in a long time, and some never want to go to church again. Each person we meet, each conversation we enter, are tiny seeds from which a church will one day grow.
Like gardening, church planting takes patience. Early on in our planning we thought in terms of timelines. We are now thinking in terms of “gates” such as “gather 12-15 people for a small group” or “have 3-4 small groups gathering weekly.” Once we’ve walked through these gates, another set of gates open up. Gates help us focus on people rather than time.
What is important now is that we gather a healthy and committed “dream team.” Although we are in the early stages, building a team with whom we can pray and dream is our next gate. We are praying for fellow dreamers to come alongside us. This is not a life-long commitment and the team will not be expected to stay in the new church long-term. It is designed to pray together and build the relationships necessary to form a new congregation. New churches come from new relationships and we are excited to do that together.
If you are interested in hearing more about how you can help, email me here.