This post is my incessant rambling about planting a Church in the Phx area.
I love all Church sizes, shapes, and styles.
I have ZERO desire to criticize any church-any time. I have ZERO desire to compete or compare with another Church who is doing what Jesus desires. I love all those churches and pastors and people.
There is no right or wrong way to do Church as long as it honors the teachings and commands of Jesus. I started Parkway Christian Church in 1997 and led it through the era of 2010, where we merged and became one Church with 2 locations with Christ’s Church of the Valley. That was 12 years ago. For the last 12 years, I’ve been wrestling with the Lord and asking Him to get me back into something influential (Like Parkway) for Him. Every door has been closed in my face by the Lord or others. I’m convinced that God has been trying to tell me something for 12 years. How bullheaded am I? God has been pointing to this very thing that has been under my nose for the last 8 years. I started Return Hope International 8 years ago, and we do work in Uganda, Africa. We’ve got a school that’ll hold approx 1000 kids. We’ve got around 40 acres of farmland. We have a Church that meets in the school. We help women stuck in the sex trade and learn tailoring to earn money. We drill freshwater wells, and it’s a joy to watch people who have NEVER had a freshwater well since the beginning of time pump clean water. The only thing Return Hope International is missing is an American Church gathering.
I corresponded with the IRS for 2 years, helping them understand Return Hope is actually a Church, not a mission organization. They eventually agreed.
I’m starting an hour-ish simplified church service monthly on Thursday nights (Third-Thursdays). Begins Oct 20.
— Preaching originates from Jesus’s Teachings and Commands.
— Community small groups meeting at their own designed schedule.
— No property, no owned facilities.
— Parents in charge of spiritually raising their own kids.
— A majority of our tithes and offerings are dedicated to the mission of Jesus locally and internationally.
The following is my response to an opinion about all this on my Facebook post…The push-back was focused and a fair concern about the sustainability of it all…and all of it being too burdensome on people, home usage, etc.
I have secured a public facility to rent for our “corporate” gathering once a month. (TINY Fraction of the cost of owning) And that is the only time we meet for all group gatherings. I’m not asking anyone to use their homes. Totally agree about a company-ready home being hard to maintain…I don’t want anyone coming to my house….ever. 🙂
Homes would only be used if the owner wants to host a small group, etc. Groups don’t have to meet every week either. The small group curriculum will be…..the Bible. (Shocking & Duh!)
As far as those watching and wondering about this all….Hold my beer… I’ve reserved a facility(Rio Vista Rec Center on 101 and T-Bird) for Oct 20 for our first all-group gathering. I also booked every Third-Thursday after that. It doesn’t matter where we live in The Valley; that location is easily accessible and sustainable to attend when it is only once a month.
I’m 51 years old. I’ve Been there-done that in Church world. I’m not interested in any consumer-driven mentality. I have no patience for personal preferences, not even my own. This is about Jesus and the simple ways He wishes we’d do things. Covid impact and Culture Issues have changed things dramatically, might the Church need to adjust its methodology a bit? Unapologetically, I’ve always been a disrupter. This really isn’t disruptive. And I have zero fear of failure. I’ve just got to try this. If it doesn’t sustain itself, I’ll keep serving Jesus the way I have.
Return Hope has existed for 8 years doing Jesus stuff the whole time in Uganda, Africa. Return Hope is actually legally declared a Church 501c3 Not-for-profit org anyway.
It’s time to add a Church to this side of the big pond. So Kelli and I are gonna go for it.
I appreciate any prayers and any early adopters who want to join.
While I’m at it, this idea I’m referencing is already being done worldwide by many. My thoughts here are not new, and the Bible says there is nothing new under the sun anyway.
A thought/idea I would like to disrupt. The thought about…”GOTTA DO LIFE TOGETHER ALL. THE. TIME.” I.e….go to each other’s kid’s games, potlucks, and breakfasts, mission work together, play in the park together, travel together, sing together, etc etc etc. There is nothing wrong with that…but it is all exhausting. When the Church is always together, it gets spoiled, often turns inward, circles the wagons, and isn’t as friendly to outsiders as the insider wish to believe. God continually through Scripture scattered and broke up the Church so those who don’t believe in Him can be reached. I think the Church should meet less together…learn to feed themselves….then be Jesus to anybody in their line of sight and circles of influence. Then Once a month…let’s get together and see the crowd God gathers, grow!
There is zero pressure to make this about all of us doing life together all the time. We’re all swamped. The phrase “doing life together” is overwhelming, intimidating, and can’t be sustained. I am fully convinced the young pastors doing all this “life-together” are burning their candles at both ends, and their candles only have about an inch left to burn. And…it stunts growth and outreach. People are overwhelmed. The last thing an unchurched person wants to do is have more meetings and more people to care for. LESS IS MORE!
This is about a stripped-down church service once a month. I don’t want to put on a show for anybody. A couple songs with a very small band…if not only a guitar, probably a mediocre sounds system, a very good and engaging high quality sermon teaching about Jesus, partaking of Communion together, and let’s go home and into our circles of influence!
Those who join have so much flexibility in what they do or don’t want to do. The most essential thing in this Church plant is everybody spending time in the Word/Jesus daily on their own! Then…Teaching your kids to do the same! (Most agree, the common day youth ministry is not working well and hasn’t been for a long time.) Be committed to a small group of people for mutual care and accountability. And serving those in our lines of sight and our circles of influence for Jesus. I’m no longer willing to hand-hold you to the gates of Heaven. Get off your arse, and walk your self with Jesus. It’s time for us to feed ourselves. I prefer to read my Bible and spend time with Jesus every day. Attend a small group gathering regularly. Attend a worship service once a month, and impact my lines of sight and circles of influence for Jesus. It’s Church without millions of dollars spent on facilities and land. Nothing wrong with millions spent on such; I just don’t want to.
We Americans are a bunch of try-hards, we are a bunch of corporate growth competitors, and it’s slowly killing us.
Less is more! Keep It simple stupid! God desires us to live a life of …
“Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.”
1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
“The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.”
Pastors and Christians are dropping like flies to stress, sin, busy-busy-busy. etc.
We’re all a bunch of crazies.
Slow down. Less is more.
Well..I’m gonna try this. Stay tuned. See you Oct 20. Call me if you have questions. 623-628-1400, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org