NewChurch is a new kind of church based on very old ideas.
We endeavor to be a community of people following Jesus, worshiping God and loving the people of Katy, Texas.
“Worship God, Love People”
WHERE WE ARE NOW
In February of 2015, several people independent of one another came to Frank Hart and asked if he would be interested in starting a new church in the Katy area. Eight of those people met to pray about the idea and discuss the possibility. Soon we had a place to meet, a name for the church, and a vision for where we believed God will lead us. We began meeting on Saturday nights at The Lab athletic facility for informal worship and fellowship—a time of singing, Bible study, prayer and sharing a meal together. Since then we have gathered together twenty-five weeks in a row and usually have sixty to seventy people in attendance. There is a lot of excitement about what God is doing with our fledgling NewChurch.
We began building our launch team through the Saturday night gatherings. We invited people through personal relationships (word of mouth), careful to not invite anyone unless they asked us about the new church or “so, what are you doing now?” Many of the people at NewChurch are former members of CrossPoint who left for one reason or another over the past couple of years. This is not a “church split” and there has been no attempt to “poach” people from churches where they are currently attending. According to Empty Pew Survey people are leaving churches by the hundreds and most of them do not begin attending anywhere else. We hope to find as many lost sheep as possible and invite them to join us at NewChurch.
We have been focused on discipleship from the very beginning. Our leadership team consists of ten people who get together every Monday night for a meal, prayer, teaching based on Mike Breen’s 3DM curriculum and a time of church business and discussion. Led by Frank Hart there is Kemper Crabb (minister, musician, teacher, artist, author), Rachel Ryder (NewChurch Admin and stay at home mom), Jason Chisler (Development Manager at Accenture), Lynn Bradley (Controller, Mostyn Law Firm, P.C.), Lou Malfitano (Supervisor of Water Distribution Department for Park Environmental), Bryan Hill (Dean of Students Sam Houston Math, Science and Technology Center), Cyndy Thompson (Sr Solutions Consultant for Equifax Inc.), Jeff Hagerlin (Financial Analyst, Payment Card, CITGO Petroleum), Jeremy Ryder (Staffing Manager at Sapient Global Solutions), Tammy Boyd (Owner of The Athletic Lab of Katy).
Pastor Aaron Lytle of Oikos Church has been helpful as a friend and advisor to Frank in the process of starting this ministry. They meet on Wednesday mornings to discuss where God is leading and how to proceed faithfully. Pastor Matt Popovits of Our Saviour New York has also been very helpful in coaching Frank and processing our direction and vision.
We have been amazingly blessed with resources. The family that owns the facility where we meet has donated the space to us and are part of our launch team. We have received financial support from our enthusiastic and faithful members which allowed us to start paying Frank’s salary in June and save over $240,000 toward our public launch. $220,000 were one time gifts from two of our launch team families, the other $20,000 was gathered in weekly offerings.
WHERE WE WANT TO GO NEXT
We intend to launch publicly as soon as we have a few key pieces in place. The space we are in is a big open box with fluorescent lighting and no chairs. In an effort to make it feel more like the church we want to be we are adding lights, sound, stage, screens and chairs. We are also in the process of identifying leaders and serving opportunities for basic ministry areas so that when the community shows up we have a system in place to plug people in and serve them. I believe we will be ready for a public launch in the Fall.
MISSION PHILOSOPHY - Air War/Ground War
We will have engaging worship services (air war) with a solid foundation of discipleship (ground war).
I was a large part of the creative production engine at CrossPoint Community Church. NewChurch will have authentic worship services with high quality music, graphics and engaging messages. The music will be modern songs, beloved hymns, and culturally indigenous. The liturgy will draw from ancient texts, the rhythms of the church calendar but with modern vernacular and current tone. The overall design esthetic will be understated and simple.
We will have a strong online presence through social media, video content, podcasts, blogs, and specific internet marketing. We will make maximum use of YouTube, Livestream, Facebook, Instagram, and Google Adwords to reach our increasingly technologically obsessed culture.
The heart of NewChurch is a discipleship community based on people connecting through following Jesus and becoming true spiritual family. Every worship service will be followed by a “HangTime” where we share food and drink, where we become friends and our children play together. We will learn together as we meet in homes throughout the week to study scripture and live life together. We will serve together as we explore the needs of our community and find ways to bless those around us.
Geographically, we will primarily focus on the area surrounding The Lab Sport Facility where we meet including the block west of 99, south of I-10, north of Westpark Toll Road and east of 1463. This is a rapidly growing population of people diverse racially, economically and spiritually. Less than 25% are connected to a faith community and that number is dropping every day. The Lab is a social hub where all of these diverse elements of society come together for fitness and training, we intend to utilize our connection to the facility and build relationships with the community that meets there. Weekly Bible studies at the facility, free “Family Fitness” classes on Sunday morning and exercising at the gym ourselves will help us build relationships with the families who utilize the facility. We are also located across from Katy Mills Mall and Walmart, providing a multitude of opportunities to engage with the people God is calling us to reach through outdoor events like concerts or BBQs—the location affords us some unique opportunities to connect with the community.
Worship God—Excellence in Worship: We should glorify God in such a way that all people can understand who Jesus is, the hope and life that is only found in Him, that He is the only way to the Father. The worship experience should be accessible to the uninitiated but also provoke them to transcend their current understanding. Every effort should be made to reduce the awkward feeling that as a guest they do not belong here.
Love People—Making Disciples: We believe that our lives should be dedicated to helping people follow Jesus and transforming our lives to be more like Him. This includes the NewChurch family of believers who are already in our gatherings as well as those whom The Holy Spirit will lead to join us in the future. The Holy Bible must be taught in all of its depth and richness pointing to the true Word that is only revealed through Jesus Christ.
Create a culture of people who desire to know Jesus and follow Him.
Cultivate worship daily and weekly with others.
Hear God’s voice through His Word, prayer, His people and our experiences.
Be generous with what He gives us.
Create a safe environment where people are accepted as they are.
Cultivate a community that is relaxed and forgiving.
Learn together as we live life together.
Be transparent and open
Disciple each other in accountable relationships
Encourage each other to become more like Jesus
Engage our surrounding culture
Be a part of the community
Become known as a safe place
Represent Jesus wherever we go
Invite others into our lives and our gatherings
Grow and bear fruit
Phase One (Gathering the Launch Team)
Our culture has been defined from the start by focusing on worshiping God and loving people, growing together as a spiritual family following Jesus in this mission together. We have been devoted to prayer and God’s Word. We refuse to be defined by where we came from or who we used to be. We are not running from anything but we are running toward the mission God has planted in our hearts.
We believe it is our job to show up and be faithful, it is God who will make it mean something—He makes the miracles happen. We plant and water, He causes new life to grow and bear fruit.
During this first phase we have gathered for worship, shared meals, met for discipleship, raised and saved money in preparation for the next phase of NewChurch ministry. Preparation includes purchasing and installing gear as well as developing our leadership team and solidifying our launch team.
Frank Hart is the Lead Minister of NewChurch. He, along with Associate Minister Kemper Crabb, are experienced church leaders who guide NewChurch with the help of a Leadership Team. The Leadership Team consists of eight people and is also called a discipleship huddle (it has both names because it functions as both). The Lead Minister (Frank Hart) functions as the leader, the Leadership Team serves to hold him accountable, challenge him, and help him make wise decisions for the ministry. This is not “leadership by group consensus” but the Team is encouraged to question his decisions and has the power to veto with a unanimous vote (minus one).
Frank is also a Sent Minister from Oikos Church and is subject to the council and direction of Pastor Aaron Lytle.
Finding The Lab as a place of worship
Assembling a Leadership Huddle
24 weeks of gathered worship
Worship attendance between 60 and 70 people per week
NewChurchTexas.com website (700 unique visits)
NewChurch Podcast (over 5,000 downloads)
Over $240,000 in the bank
Successful 4th of July community outreach event
Phase Two (Preparing for Public Launch)
As we continue to gather for weekly worship we will begin adding video, sound, light and stage production. This will involve creating and training teams to set up, tear down and operate the equipment. We will concentrate on designing a ministry framework to serve the community for when we invite them to join us. We will identify and equip leaders for hospitality, tech, children, youth and adult ministries.
We will start with one full-time minister (Frank Hart), one part time minister (Kemper Crabb) and a part time administrator (Rachel Ryder). We will add part time tech and hired musicians in Phase Two. We will consider adding staff to concentrate on children and youth ministries. We will evaluate additional staffing needs based on the number of people who are worshiping at NewChurch and the needs of our ministry.
We will design a marketing campaign and strategy to communicate our public launch to the community. We will pick a date to invite everyone to join us for our grand opening in Phase Three.
We will make adjustments to our budget based on offerings and gifts to NewChurch. In addition to staff oversight of budget, the Leadership Team will appoint individuals to oversee the fiscal side of NewChurch. These members will be a subset of the larger Leadership Team consisting of Lynn Bradley, Jeremy Ryder, Jeff Hagerlin, Cyndy Thompson and Bryan Hill.
We will give gifts of $10,000 each to Oikos Church and Our Savior New York for helping NewChurch in our earliest planning and beginning. We will begin to contribute two percent of our monthly offerings to these churches and also to the Texas District of the LCMS.
Phase Three (Public Launch)
Invite The Community
We will run a campaign focused on inviting people to join us on Saturday night. This will be an all out social media assault using every tool available to us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Periscope, Google Adwords, YouTube, Livestream, and email. We will also make posters and fliers to hand out. We will make signs and encourage our people to invite everyone they know to our grand opening and subsequent services.
As we invite the community to join us we will need to continually assess how effective our marketing, signage and messaging is being received by the people we are trying to reach. We will also pay close attention to the quality of our worship experience and the engagement of our people in discipleship and NewChurch family life. We understand that all of these things are moving targets.
We will continue to meet at The Lab on Saturday evenings and include a community HangTime following each worship service.
We hope to grow to around 400 people within the first year of Phase Three. This will test the structure that we put in place during Phase Two, we will need to remain flexible to make whatever changes are necessary to transition from a small church to a medium sized church.
When we reach maximum capacity we will consider adding an additional Sunday morning service. We will only do this if we can add the service without stretching our staff and volunteers beyond a sustainable schedule. NewChurch will not build our ministry at the expense of burning out our people.
This is when we need to consider our options and put Frank Hart on a path to Pastoral ordination. It appears that the best route for this will be the Specific Ministry Pastor (SMP) program of the LCMS. The SMP program of Concordia Seminary is a 4-year distance education program that prepares men for pastoral ministry
If offered, we will utilized the $200,000 no interest returnable gift from the Texas District to sustain us through these early years of ministry. This will allow us to consider adding staff as God draws people to our congregation and help us cover the cost of ordination. It will supplement rising costs of doing ministry in a growing new congregation that may lag in their giving.
Phase Four (Bridge to the Community)
A local church should find ways to build bridges to the surrounding community. It is not good enough to merely hang a sign and invite people to attend worship services. The church needs to be the salt and light of the world, and to do this it has to interact with the people it is trying to reach.
A Place to Meet People
Our “First Place” is our home, “Second Place” is our work, and a “Third Place” is where we meet our friends—it is part of our identity. Churches want to be that “Third Place” but they can’t be because they are not open often enough. When they are open, most of the time is spent sitting in neatly arranged rows passively interacting with a person up front. We believe people long for a true “Third Place.”
In our Katy culture, when people want to connect with other people they go to a place to eat and drink. We think a perfect bridge to our culture would be a Gastro Pub. A place that is open in the morning for people to get together to drink great coffee, where they can meet friends or business associates for lunch or take their family to dinner. A place that has good local beer on tap for late night philosophical conversations and winding down. A comfortable place to hang out with family and friends any day of the week.
NewChurch Pub — “Your Third Place”
What if that place was called “NewChurch Pub?” What if we were open every day for business and then invited people to join us in the same space for worship? We want NewChurch to be that place for us and for anyone else God leads here. A vocational blessing to the community and a unique bridge for connecting with the community surrounding us—a constant open invitation to join our family.
The pub would be a for profit business that would donate its income (after overhead) to NewChurch ministries. We will carefully consider the legal and financial implications of how to operate the business so that it remains separate from the church. The pub would be managed and operated by people hired based on their ability to run a profitable business and serve great food. As a sustainable financial model we believe a partnership between a restaurant/pub and local church is a promising proposal.
Philosophy and Branding
NewChurch would leverage the pub in many ways but it would not be a “Christian Pub.” It will not be an evangelistic “bait and switch” trap or the pub version of a Christian Coffee House. It will be marketed and known as a great place for families to enjoy good food and drinks with their friends—their third place.
We would encourage the NewChurch congregation to hang out there, spend time with friends, family and interact with the community. Maybe our elders would become certified bartenders so they could listen to hearts of the people who might wander inside.
A Place For Families
One of the most interesting phenomenons in Katy is the family friendly Saturday afternoon beer tastings at No Label Brewery. Hundreds of people show up every Saturday and sit in lawn chairs drinking beer talking with their friends while their kids throw frisbees and play nearby. We see this as proof that people long for community and if the church won’t provide a platform then someone else will. Our pub will provide the same kind of experience, only indoors and open every day.
Adults can enjoy food, drink and conversation around tables and chairs while their kids take advantage of an indoor playground—in full view but behind a glass wall (so the sound level can be managed).
For The Community
We will design the pub with private space for meetings, Bible studies, recovery groups, or other small church functions. We will also allow it to be used by other groups in the community for their meetings. We want to be a real blessing to the community whether they join us for worship or not.
Phase Five (Replication)
It is important that we see ourselves as a church desiring to plant other churches from the very beginning. If the ideas of NewChurch are successful in Katy then we would see ourselves helping to start NewChurches in other locations. They wouldn’t have to be exactly like us, we would help a church planting team using the principles that worked for us to start a worshiping body that ministers to the community they are serving.