In The Beginning
In January 2015, eight separate people approached me about starting a new church. We prayed about it and in February we starting meeting on Saturday nights at the The Lab. There were about 25 of us, we sat in lawn chairs, I led the music by myself with an acoustic guitar and gave the first message. It was from Matthew 14 about Jesus walking on water—taking a leap of faith.
We didn’t have anything. I assembled the first leadership team from the core group who had approached me about starting the church. We met on Monday nights for the next year, to pray together for this new ministry, and to work out all the details and plans. We named the church, worked up a constitution and bylaws and came up with a four phase plan.
Phase One: We would meet on Saturday nights, borrow musicians, pastors and tech help from other churches. We would worship God and love people, we would always have a HangTime where we would share food and drink—and get to know each other. We would collect an offering each week, but everyone (including me) would be a volunteer until we had at least 20 thousand dollars in cash reserves. At that time we would consider paying my salary—I really hoped that would happen by June of 2015 because that’s when my personal savings would be depleted. During Phase One we would invite friends and family to join us, all word of mouth, and hope to grow until we could afford to buy lights, sound, stage, chairs, and all the tools we would need to properly launch the church. I figured that would take us about a year.
Phase Two would be purchasing all the gear and learning how to use it, getting enough volunteers to run everything and get ready to do ministry. We would begin to organize children’s ministry, youth ministry, adult discipleship and everything our new church was going to do.
Phase Three would be public launch, where we would hope to grow large enough to move out of the Lab and get our own place. Phase Four would be moving to a permanent location—we would open NewChurch Cafe’ and Pub, where we would be a great place to eat and drink all week long, and gather for worship on Sunday mornings in the same space. These were our big dreams, as we sat in our folding chairs on AstroTurf under the glowing fluorescent lights of a gym.
It Started To Happen
By June of 2015 we were about fifty people, and had over 30 thousand dollars in the bank. In July an anonymous donor offered us two hundred thousand dollars for a “Match My Gift” campaign, which people generously contributed to and in the end the donors threw in the entire amount. After only a few months, we were suddenly ready for Phase Two.
In March of 2016 we publicly launched NewChurch with 175 people. Over the next months we continued to worship on Saturday nights, attract new people, and do the ministry that God had called us to do. We were sponsored by Oikos Church and became an official church plant of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and the Texas District started supporting us with a two hundred thousand dollar returnable gift—a no interest loan to be paid back over twenty years. I was accepted into the SMP program at Concordia Seminary in St Louis—a four year post graduate certification program for pastoral ministry.
There have been so many miraculous and joyful blessings over the past two years—so much that God has done for us, and so much He has done through us. God has used this ministry in so many ways to bless, encourage, challenge and heal people in this community. It’s been amazing to see so many of you step up and join us in this mission of worshiping God and loving people.
We always knew that a Sunday morning service was inevitable. My hope was that we could grow to about 150 people with a back to school and Christmas push in 2016. What we have found is that Saturday nights are a tough time to try and build a congregation. I would tell people about our new church but when they found out it was on Saturday night they’d be like, “Saturday huh?”
So, that’s why on February 19 we are making the switch to Sunday morning. We will start meeting at 10:30am with HangTime following—more of a brunch.
Over the next year we hope to grow until we don’t fit in The Lab anymore. I’d like to see us more than two hundred and fifty each week, just busting at the seams—so we can start making plans to get our own place. So that NewChurch Cafe’ and Pub can become a reality.
Over the couple of months we will be launching our Scattered communities. Peter and Tara Bergman have been called to NewChurch to help with the ground war discipleship of our mission. We will gather on Sunday mornings to Worship God all together and then we will scatter throughout the community—meeting in houses and public places to study God’s Word and serve the community in tangible ways. You’ll be hearing a lot more about this in the next few weeks.
None of this would be possible if you all were not listening to God’s call to live out your faith here at NewChurch. Everyone who shows up to worship, talks about what God is doing here with your friends, serves as a greeter, setting up, tearing down, bringing food, playing in the band, running the technology, helping with admin, helping with PlayTime—your faithfulness is what makes this ministry happen. I’m thankful to God for all of you.
We have a lot to do. Stay faithful in your praying. Pray that God will bring people to NewChurch to help us in this mission. Pray that He will continue blessing us financially and in miraculous ways to keep us moving forward. Pray that we will be led by the Spirit, with wisdom and that God will protect us from all attacks of the enemy.
Stay faithful in your giving, in your attendance, and in your serving. Join a scattered group when they are offered. Help us to make to transition to Sunday morning. Invite your friends and neighbors to join us.
I’m very excited about what God has done, but I’m even more excited about what He’s going to do. Thank you for being part of this journey with me.