A seminary student who was doing a paper on church planting recently interviewed me. For those planters who follow this blog I thought you might want to hear some of my answers. If you have other questions for me, please ask.
1, What is the Vision?
The vision of Grace Community Church is to “make growing disciples of Jesus Christ”
2. What is the strategy for evangelism, assimilation, and discipleship?
Our strategy is based on a “simple church” ideology. (Not after the book of that title, but similar in design to that philosophy). We try to get people to Gather. Commit and Serve. We gather on Sunday mornings to worship. We commit through small group to build meaningful relationships with others. We carry out our mission to reach the world by serving others. Its a progressive system we think will help people become growing followers of Christ.
3. What are key values that should be expressed by or philosophy of ministry related to: Worship Service, Adult groups or Sunday School, Service to the Community?
*High quality efforts at whatever we do
* Welcoming Environments
*Generosity to others
*Exciting children’s environments
4. When will the church be ready to birth another church (or if already have, what were the factors that led to this sponsorship)?
We have assisted literally dozens of churches either through consulting, investment of resources or sending out workers. We would hope that our first duplicate site would come within the next year or year and a half. We will most likely duplicate so we can reach people no one is reaching in a specific community. We have dozens who travel a fairly long distance to come to Grace. We may start by providing a place for them in their community.
Part 2: 1. Concerning your view of the weekend service
a. What occurred – timeline?
We have 2 services at 9 and 11. We are considering our 3rd now. We began with 1 service and at the 6 months mark went to 2 services. We changed locations once to allow for more people.
b. What do children do? Youth? Babies?
We have worship/small group environments for babies through Pre-K and K through 5th grade each Sunday. We are delighted that children often bring their parents back to church. Our goal is to create an irresistible environment for them.
2. Could you tell how to:
a. Join this church?
Membership at Grace is begins by attending an informational meeting held 4 times a year where we explain who the church is, our history and philosophy. Once a person professes a faith in Jesus Christ and commits to our Gather, Commit, Serve strategy through involvement they can commit in membership.
b. Find a group or class?
We have sign ups for groups 3 times a year but we discuss groups frequently throughout the year and continually start new groups as the need arises.
c. Get your baby in the nursery.
We have a very welcoming greeting team beginning in the parking lot. People are led through the sign up process. Many people pre-register their children from our website prior to attending Grace the first time.
3. Describe how a seeker would “process” through this church to become a serving leader. How many years would it take?
The window to become a serving leader in our church could happen very quickly. We are always talking about service and recruiting. We do an all-church volunteer opportunity each year where we encourage everyone to serve one day. Many are introduced to service this way. Also we encourage service in our community by alerting people to opportunities outside the church.
PART 3 – ANALYZE
1. Who is this church reaching? Is this the same group they intend to reach?
We have reached well over 50%, possibly as high as 70%, of people who were not active in any church a year before attending Grace the first time. That was and is our target group.
2. What are the strengths and weaknesses of this church as a discipling community?
Strengths. We have an exciting and attractive environment. People easily feel they can be a part of something.
Weaknesses. We lack enough quality leaders. We do not have some of the structures in place we need systematically to assimilate people through the strategy.
3. How well is the vision of the pastor propagated to the core leaders? New members? The congregation? How often is this vision reviewed/renewed?
We talk about vision constantly in different ways. With a simple strategy it is easier to communicate with people. With an elder structure of leadership we are able to control the focus of energies for the church always closely pushing towards reaching the vision.
4. Which “systems” are present and working well? Present but need help? Apparently not present? How easily can people “flow” from one system to another?
Because we don’t have many layers to our ministry, we don’t have many systems but the system of getting plugged into groups is working well. The system of getting people to serve needs on a weekly basis needs work. Our system to teach awareness of financial responsibility and raising funds for future building is an issue we haven’t completely figured out yet. Our system of replacing leaders needs refining. Finally, our system of worship planning works reasonably well, but our system of implementation needs more work.
5. Is this church reproducible? Has it reproduced? Why or why not?
Yes we think we are reproducible. We have not spun our own church plant yet, because of the rapid growth of the home church. We have chosen to invest in other starts rather than do our own. That is a long-term vision of the church.
6. What aspects of the church would you like to emulate in a church plant? Change?
We planted with people who had a passion for spiritual growth but were dissatisfied with the church choices in the community. We called it a “holy discontent”. We would look for that again. Also we would try to repeat the things we are noted for and that have become trademarks of Grace that I mentioned above, such as a heart of generosity and community investment.
A change would be to look for more leaders to start with. We shied away from churched people not wanting to take from other churches but it left us with a void of leadership we are just now filling.
Again, what questions do you have?