Since my blogging has been scarce the last few months, I thought I would take the opportunity to post some ministry updates for those who check this blog periodically for that purpose.
The last few months have been a whirlwind. I moved to Cincinnati in July of last year, and have spent the last eight months getting settled into our home, finishing seminary online, enjoying the arrival of my new son Owen, and meeting scores of new people in my effort to start a new church in the downtown area.
I have devoted so much energy to these chores that I took a blogging break. That break is over and the blog is on.
By the Numbers
Here are some numbers: Laura and I have hosted in the neighborhood at least 100 different people (we’ve counted) in our home for meals or other events since we moved here. That’s one way to make new friends: you feed them. That’s an average of more than three families per week in our home for the past 8 months. That’s not bad, considering the fact that we didn’t know anyone in Cincinnati when we moved here. The Bible places a high value on hospitality, so we have been putting that into practice.
We have been gathering a core group of people to join us in starting this church. God has blessed us with a group of people who have joined us that we are really thrilled to be working with. These people love Jesus, believe the Bible, and want to be a part of a Christ-centered community.
We have been hosting and leading a Bible study on the book of Galatians since January. We started out with six people, which was about 12 the next week, and now around 25. We’re running out of room in our basement and so we have the pleasant problem of figuring out what to do next.
We haven’t asked anyone “sign on the dotted line” yet, but we’re praying for a core group of at least 40 people to join us before we start weekly worship services.
My goal over the next few months is to continue to grow this Bible study into a core group of committed people who want to live their lives on mission for Jesus together in the city. Many of us already live downtown or close by, but some are considering moving to downtown as well. If we are to launch a weekly worship gathering in September, as I anticipate, we need to have a few systems in place ahead of time.
The first system will be the most important piece of our overall evangelistic strategy.
The life of the church will be in the city groups (aka missional communities). These city groups will be much, much more than a small group but a little less than a house church. The city group leaders will be responsible for not only leading a weekly gathering, but also to shepherd and pastor their group. This means that they will need to be outreach oriented — they will be assigned the task of demonstrating the love of Christ to their neighborhoods. This can be as simple as keeping the neighborhood clean and crime free, or hosting people in their home, or something else. They are a mini-church within the larger church. And they are also a mini-neighborhood within their larger neighborhood.
For the larger church, we need to have the basic logistics covered, such as a meeting space with a pleasing aesthetic, accessible, with ample parking, in the right neighborhood, and at the right price. We could rent a space in a school or something for three or four hours a week, or possibly lease a commercial space. Every place we have looked at so far has some limitations, so we’re continuing to pray for the right place.
Additionally, we need to be organized with our management of finances, membership, music, childcare, and so forth. Once you start a Sunday worship service, they never stop. This means that many hours of the week will be devoted to this gathering, so I want to make sure we’re ready for it.
The leadership team that is currently in place and committed are my friends John and Liz McEwan, and Ryan and Teriea Kupiec. We are a diverse team, to say the least, but all of us are sold out for the gospel. Once we solidify some of the core group members, our leadership team will undoubtedly grow.
We changed the name of the church to “Christ the King Church.” The explanation is forthcoming in a separate post.
Without question, the focus of spiritual attack on our church has been our family. This was a tough adjustment when we moved our family here, without friends or a church family to call home. It took us six months just to find a babysitter so Laura and I could get out of the house together. We are trusting God for the safety of our children and recognize that He loves them more than we do.
I am learning a lot about myself, the church, Cincinnati, and how best to love and serve this community. I realize also that I am not starting a church here. I have spoken to many people who have told me that they have been praying for this type of church for years.
I thought I was coming here to plant a church. But God has been planting this church for a long time.
I am merely the one who has the joy of leading it.