“We are planting a church to welcome those who feel unwelcomed,” stated Russ Jones, pastor of Mosaic Fellowship in Belton, Texas. He is starting a new church to be an open place for the marginalized.
Wayne Weathers, pastor of Vision of Hope Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is starting a church to “embrace the Holy Spirit without being rigid…to be a safe space for everyone to wrestle with their faith.” Vision of Hope takes traditional concepts of church, yet also thinks outside the box. At Wayne’s church, you might find yourself in a Bible study via WebEx or a prayer meeting via conference call. They value flexibility and creativity in their expression of what the church can be.
Andy Hale facilitated the session “Why We Must Start Churches” at General Assembly this past June. Andy is the church starter of Mosaic in Clayton, North Carolina. He is also overseer of CBF’s Church Starts Initiative. Reflecting on why church starting is important to the Fellowship, Andy said, “We are Christ to the changing culture around us. We need to both revitalize established churches and start new ones.”
This year, CBF is commissioning its largest and most diverse class of church starters in the Fellowship’s 25 year history: 8 women and men from all over the country.
The Fellowship has a variety of church models, cultures, similarities and differences. Part of the CBF’s beauty is the unity in diversity. Witnessing the Spirit’s lead in this year’s commissioned church starters is inspiring for the Fellowship.
My church, Peace of Christ Church in Round Rock, Texas, has a vision to “Think Deeply and Love Widely.” We believe our community and church body mesh together through contemplative thought and social action. We believe people of faith can embrace mystery while being intellectually honest about doubt and unsure beliefs. We believe our tent should be ever-expanding, and we have much to learn from those who are from different from us.
I experienced commissioning by CBF a couple of years ago. It was one of the most humbling and encouraging experiences of my life. Hugs, greetings, and prayers from strangers and new friends helped me to realize how vital the Fellowship’s support is in church starting. Over our church planting journey, we have never felt alone. If you get the opportunity to meet CBF’s new church starters this year, please let them know you are praying for them. Consider lending support and resources. We can do amazing things for the Kingdom when we partner together.