My new friend Koffijah, in response to my series “Why Microchurches?” that I posted last week while I was gone, asked me to give a profile of the church I planted so that you all could get a feel of a real microchurch network that actually exists in space and time.
I planted Discovery back in March 2001. Two college friends and their wives helped us plant the church (which, at the time, was called The Body of Christ at Harrisonburg). The year that followed was a grand exercise in how not to plant a church. I learned a lot of hard lessons in that year. One of the couples decided to leave after a year. With the aid of a church planting organization in VA, we planned to relaunch the church in October 2002. Six weeks before the relaunch, the other guy who came with me was killed in a plane crash. We pressed forward, and on October 6, 2002, Discovery Christian Church was (re)launched.
For nearly four and a half years, Discovery operated as a “culturally relevant, biblical, authentic” church with a big Sunday service and small groups. After some hard evaluation, seeking hard after God, and getting clear confirmation from Him, we reorganized Discovery as a network of microchurches (the process took four months, becoming official in June 2007). It has taken nearly two years for those involved to have the layers of the old way of doing church to be peeled away (there is still some of this going on). But this long process is now starting to see some fruit develop–both in the maturing of those in our churches and in seeing new people drawn into the life of the community.
Here’s how Discovery is developing into a network of microchurches that seek to love God, love people, and serve the world.
The Rhythm of Church Life
We currently have three churches in the network. One is made up of around 25 people (including kids), and is pregnant–she will need to multiply soon. It’s made up of a mixture of people who were churched before coming to Discovery and those who weren’t. One is a student church made up of around 6-10 high school students, many of which come from completely unchurched backgrounds (and that’s putting it nicely). The third church is made up of about 7 people (with more interested), where only one of the people had a church background before coming to Discovery (the planter’s wife). Each church is independent–they make their own decisions about things like outreach in the community, what part of Scripture they’ll study at one of their gatherings, etc. What binds our churches together is simply this: Jesus and our DNA (love God, love people, serve the world).
Our newly recognized leadership team oversees the entire network by keeping their fingers on the pulse of the churches–are they healthy (are they growing with respect to the DNA and in their love for Jesus)? They don’t hand down orders for the churches. They don’t decide how each church carries out the DNA. They simply make sure it’s happening, and will work with the churches to help make sure they continue to do so.
Here’s the thing (and this is vastly important)–the “Sunday gathering” is slowly regressing. What I mean is this–it’s starting to no longer be the “main meeting.” It’s finding its place in the overall rhythm of church life. It’s simply the time that our churches gather to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, pray for each other, and study scripture. There are other gatherings. Our elders decided at the last minute for their families to hang out and grill together on Easter Sunday afternoon. There’s a gathering planned on Saturday night for the next UFC Pay-Per-View–and it’s in these gatherings where unchurched people are invited to hang out. They participate in community life (even if they don’t know it).
People are starting to call each other during the week to see how they’re doing. Some choose to email. Church as a lifestyle is starting to evolve as the Holy Spirit does His work. We’ve got the loving God part down, and now we’re learning how to love each other. Serving the world is sure to follow (and is starting to show signs of emerging).
So, that’s a brief profile of Discovery. We want to glorify Jesus by loving God, loving people, and serving the world. We want to be a network of microchurches that multiplies disciples and leaders, which will lead to multiplying churches.