Here at Faithward, we get pretty excited about people coming to know Jesus. And church plants tend to be places where people meet Jesus for the first time. Church planting can also be challenging. We wanted to hear about all of it, so we invited pastors from six church plants to share their planting journeys. Most of these church planters were able to rattle off a long list of challenges in their journey. But it was the outreach and the changed people—the disciple-making—that really energized them.
“I didn’t start Overflow to be a superstar pastor or that church that everyone flocks to,” says Stephen Kim, a church planter in New Jersey. “That would be nice, but my ultimate goal: God has called me to plant 10 churches. … [Even if we only plant three,] I’ll be ecstatic. I’ll be dancing and spinning on my head because we planted churches and it’s impacted people’s lives.”
Jesus’s mandate is to go and make disciples. These church planters are doing just that, even when it means uncovering new territory, being creative in ministry approach, or both.
Paramus, New Jersey
Church demographic: Multi-ethnic
Describe your ministry:
We’re not getting the glitz and glam of numbers, but we’re seeing the gospel and our ministry fully impacting individual people. We’re trying to figure out ways of building relationships and gaining trust so people come back.
The need for church planting:
There needs to be a renovating of how we do ministry. … In a postmodern society, people misunderstand the church. [We say] church can only work in this frame. I want us to be a community of pastors doing different things to reach people with the gospel.
Places of success:
When I talk with someone and it leads to the gospel. You see gears start to move—this is who Jesus is, what being in relationship is like. It’s seeing lives being changed. That’s my Christian Red Bull.
Light for the Nations
Church demographic: Brazilian
After 20 years as a pastor in Brazil, my wife and I were in Toronto at New Life Church, praying for God’s direction for us. Their church plant in Montreal was without a pastor. We helped them while they chose a pastor, and they chose us to do it. It was a surprise because we thought God would send us to work in Africa.
Favorite part of church planting:
To baptize people is the great mark that God is approving us. We baptized seven adults and a child in two years. It’s not much, but it’s the best part!
We’ve challenged the church to have 40 small groups in the next five years. That means having 400 people in the church and having a focus on evangelization. We will have a problem with space, but it is a good problem.
City Church Sioux Falls
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Church demographic: Urban unchurched
Describe the need:
Sioux Falls isn’t too far from being post-Christian. The millennials … are in some ways rejecting a lot of evangelical culture. They don’t feel that Christianity is up to par with their intellectual questions and critical thinking.
People cannot just hear the gospel in a secular, moralistic society, but they have to see it in a community. We have missional communities—extended spiritual families doing life together on mission—that each adopt a mission in the city: a need, a neighborhood, or a network.
It’s hard not having a parent church. The churches in town really weren’t set up for that, so we said we’ll just be pioneers in this. … Now, our church feels like family, and we’re praising God for that.
Marisol Ferrer Malloy
FIRST at Long Branch
Long Branch, New Jersey
Church demographic: Multi-ethnic seasonal community
Describe the ministry:
We’re operating with the main goal of outreach to be in the streets and serve the people. Meeting on Sunday for a church service will be the after part—thanking God for all the good things that have happened this week.
The [previous renters] gave this corner a really bad reputation, so our first challenge was changing that. We’re here to do something new, like it says in Isaiah 43. … Making the house livable, getting places cleaned, fixing what hasn’t been fixed for years—that’s had an impact on the community as much as anything else.
Honestly, walking by faith. It’s exciting that I don’t know what’s going to happen next, but I’m watching the hand of God in everything.
H.O.PE. Church (House of Prayer Emmanuel)
Church demographic: Primarily Vietnamese
We are really yearning to work with the Holy Spirit to bring the gospel outside and to bring people back in. We hope to build up sincere, authentic believers, and we rely on God to build up a house of prayer in every city.
Evidence of God:
Healing miracles—we’ve had a few cases of cancer, and the people completely recovered. Others are being set free from [addictions] after a very short time with us.
We’re still looking for a permanent place of worship. Every week, we set up the chairs and sound system and bring it all back home again. But we are trusting God all the time that he will open the door when the time is good.
Church demographic: Kenyan American
Members used to gather at my house, numbering 50 to 80. When parking became a problem, we decided to rent a bigger space at the Lakewood Community Center.
Tacoma Community Reformed Church was so gracious to us … and [offered] their basement so we could relocate. They also provided an office where we can hold meetings after the service. This was answered prayer!
Our members have brought their Kenyan Christian experiences to the U.S. We take at least one hour after the service every Sunday for home fellowship. Members who were unable to attend the service have an opportunity to hear the sermon. The hosts invite other Kenyan neighbors … and often those neighbors become members.