Church planting: early days

22 November 2017

I recently heard Eugene Peterson speaking on ‘Godspeed’: this is a concept we have at times interpreted as everything happening miraculously quickly … but Eugene suggests ‘Godspeed’ is more like operating at the pace Jesus did … ON FOOT and with TIME to STOP and CONNECT with PEOPLE …

This is a very powerful thought … one we are making a part of our plans as we try to reach our parish.

Yes, I used the word ‘parish’. That’s how I’m choosing to see our neighbourhood; it’s our parish and although there’s not yet a church or church building, I’m called to be the pastor of this parish, so our plan is to start by me being the pastor to the neighbourhood (I’m just your ‘friendly neighbourhood pastor’ …).

I thought I would elaborate a little on what that means and looks like for us at these early stages.

Rachel, Elijah, and I have committed to doing the three things Jesus did in the gospels as he wandered around.

Hanging out with outsiders

So that’s what we’ve been doing: stopping and talking to everyone we meet, remembering names and swapping details where we can. Rachel and Elijah are going to every children’s program on in Liverpool and meeting other families (they are doing very well at this — Elijah is a pro).

We are inviting people over for meals or coffees, and hoping to throw larger community get-togethers just to make space for anyone who wants to belong with us …

As we make new friends, we want to create time, space, and moments of great food, celebrations, and FUN that also include meaningful conversations and asking the right questions to learn more about their lives.

We are basically trying to speak to a part of people’s hearts that has never been spoken to before.

Blessing people

Jesus blessed people by meeting their needs. So, as we meet people and spend time in our neighbourhood, we are listening carefully for needs, concerns, or situations where we could be of practical help. In the long term we’re believing for a church that lives, worships, serves, and loves their neighbourhood. So we will start early setting this example.

Creating spaces for people to connect with God

This is the one we are most passionate about, but are still praying for the best way to go about this … I can tell you we are praying for six people willing to do Alpha with us. We can host it in the café and if we have a gathering of six committed, then I’d be very confident also advertising it to the neighbourhood. As we go about the first two points, we are praying and discerning who will be the first six we will approach. The other thing that stands out is how creative and music-orientated the Liverpool people are … I’m also believing for some musos to join us in creating a weekly evening of worship and praise to connect with the love for music people have here.

J. D. Payne is a great resource to read if you want to go deeper into the concepts above.

This post was written by Scott WellardBachelor of Arts (Ministry) graduate 2011 from Harvest Bible College. Photo by Ben White.