Last week John and I headed way up north to Vancouver, British Columbia. It was designed as a business trip, but ended up being a lot of pleasure, too. Other than an overnight camping trip last summer, it had been over a year since we'd been off together, just the two of us.
Oh, and 16 of our new best friends! We were all there for some intensive training on how to do church plants. No, it wasn't a horticultural forum, though there was a lot of talk about the importance of deep roots, core values, and a spreading outreach. Of vitality and growth.
The meeting focused on how to start a new church, from the tiny seed of an idea, to the mature growth that God brings about. Some of you may be thinking, "Aren't there enough churches around already? Why do we need another one?"
Good question! What I came to see more clearly than ever before is that each church has its own personality. Its own way of responding to the needs of the community around it. What you may like in a church may be unappealing to someone else. There is a need to have many visions of what the church can accomplish in our generation and culture. Some of these new churches will concentrate on how Christians can be involved in social issues. Others are reaching those with specific interests, such as the arts. Some are starting out as small study groups meeting over coffee at Starbucks. So many ways to reach so many people, while all are centered in the reality of the difference Jesus can make in one's life.
As John and I begin the new church plant, Master's Hands, in the small town of Dayton, OR, we are excited to be a part of a bigger picture. No two photos will look alike, nor are they intended to. The framing may be different, the focus varied, but the subject will be the same--Jesus Christ.
We're thankful for the exposure we received up north.