Starting a new church is certainly full of challenge and struggle. In the words of Earl Creps: “Church planting is the art of surviving disappointment.” I’ve lived that statement on more than one occasion.
At the same time, new churches also provide times of intense joy and excitement. Just as we marveled when Ryan was born, so we find ourselves marveling at the way God is bringing Storyline to life.
Most recently we’ve been excited to anticipate and plan for our first house church multiplication. It’s been our dream from the beginning that Storyline would develop into a network of house churches: the first house church would start another, those would start others, and those would start others and so on.
Healthy things reproduce. Healthy plants bear seed that produce new plants. Healthy animals give birth to new animals. Healthy humans conceive new children. It’s the same in the kingdom of God – healthy disciples help to make new disciples and healthy churches start new churches.
Our first house church gathering has started to gain some traction in our community. New relationships have been formed. Unchurched and dechurched friends have started participating in the life of our church. New leaders are stepping up to the plate. This little community is already embodying in significant ways our values for dependence on God, mission, life change and genuine relationships.
So within the next few weeks we’ll branch out and start the second house church. We’ll have a special gathering where we reminisce about how God has been at work, commission the next generation of house church leaders and discern which house church God is calling each person to join in the future.
We’re also excited that later this fall we’ll start a monthly worship gathering that will draw our house churches together for times of worship, storytelling and vision casting. Larger worship gatherings will help to create a sense of synergy among house churches by helping them see that they are part of something bigger than themselves. These gatherings will also give us an opportunity for broader exposure in the surrounding communities of Uptown, Downtown and Oak Lawn.
We do not, however, envision that these larger worship gatherings will occur more than monthly, at least in the early stages of the church’s life. This is a strategic decision because to us the majority of church life and mission takes place in the context of smaller communities of faith. We don’t want our limited people resources to be wrapped up in planning for weekly worship gatherings such that we neglect to put most of our energies into developing house church life and mission.
Rejoice with us for the way God is at work in our midst. Pray for us as we seek to do the hard but rewarding work of multiplying.