The following post is by Kyle Tubbs, Church Planter and Primary Teaching Pastor at Grace Baptist Church in Round Rock, Texas. Kyle is featured in the latest issue of fellowship! magazine in the story“CBF church starters use creativity to build community” by Katelyn McWilliams.

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My waistline in growing, and I think it has something to do with being a church starter.

I worked in an established church for years before church starting. Whenever I had to meet someone for planning, counseling, or most church-related activities, the standard question I would ask was, “What time can you come by my office this week?”

This way of meeting was convenient. Our administrative assistant was around the corner if I needed help with anything, there were plenty of resources in my office handy, and the consistency of my people knowing where I would be was nice.

When God called my wife and me to move from Sweetwater to Round Rock in Texas last year to plant a church, we knew there would be a period of adjustments.  The challenge of not having a central office was somewhat disorienting. When people needed to talk about something, my standard response about meeting in my office was going to need altering.

Quickly, the new response for church-related meetings became, “Where can we meet for coffee or a meal this week?” At first, there were some disadvantages, like a lack of present resources, but I adapted quickly. The people also adapted, understanding I was always only a call, text or email away from getting together.

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It didn’t take long and I began to enjoy meeting people in public spaces. I am an extrovert, and working from my house can be a little too quiet.

Another part of this enjoyment is getting out into the community, meeting owners, workers and other customers in their natural living spaces. The conversations with people in restaurants and coffee shops helped me identify with the local culture. Without being forced into the marketplace with others, I might not have assimilated as quickly.

Slowly and surely, I began not only to minister to the people who appeared in our worship services; I began to see the county as my “parish.” I now come in regular contact with people I would never have met if I had an office schedule like years before. I am able to participate in meeting the needs of people in the community in ways I couldn’t imagine if I was not in public so much. It seems like I am beginning to live part of that missional lifestyle I preached from the pulpit for years.

While church starting helped force me out of my office and among the people, I have realized that I probably should have started doing this years ago. There should have been a special time I regularly set to meet with people in their environment, rather than only expecting them to enter mine.

Now, I come back around to my original statement about my waist growing as a church planter.  One of the perks of being out and about, eating and drinking with people in the community, is all the good food and beverages I get to consume while visiting with people.

I now notice throughout the gospels all the times Jesus sits at tables to eat with people.  He gets out with others in their own contexts.  Sometimes I wonder if I will too be called a “glutton,” “drunkard,” and “friend of sinners” as Jesus was (Matthew 11:19) since I am out with different people in the community frequently.

My next blog post should probably be on losing weight as a church starter from all the food and drink I consume with people in the community. Until then, if you would like to meet up and talk about anything, I know of some good places to grab a bite or get a drink in Williamson County, Texas.