Saturday, May 16, 2015

Why Plant?

One of the questions I get asked a lot is, "Aren't there enough churches out there already?" The context of the question is usually to wonder why we're starting another one.

Setting aside the call of God to do so (which really can't be set aside for nothing succeeds without the call of God), there are some very good reasons to start new. First, with approximately 1000 people for every existing church in the Peoria Metro Area but with average church size closer to 80, the need is obvious. There are more people in this area who need the Gospel than the existing congregations will every be able to reach. People are perishing without Jesus at a horrific rate. Jesus words about the harvest being ripe but workers being few ring very true today. The vast number of people taken alone is reason enough to expand the tent of the Kingdom's presence in this area to strive to preach the Gospel as broadly as possible.

At the risk of sounding like a marketer, there are underserved people in our area. We have developed a church culture based on reaching people like ourselves. This isn't necessarily wrong. It's human nature. Since most pastors and church leaders are college educated with a white collar background, that's naturally who they connect with and are most effective reaching. Unfortunately, we aren't a predominately white collar region. We're still a manufacturing community with more than half of our population in that area or the trades.

Others just don't feel comfortable in most of the current congregations. Either they expect to be rejected because of their appearance, lifestyle, or history or because they don't see relevance to their life. In many cases, that expectation or rejection is based on real experience. A lot of these people have some past experience with the church. They may have felt cast off, excluded, or otherwise shut out for a wide range of reasons from questioning what they were taught, struggling with "one of those sins," or just being different from the group. There isn't a more difficult group to reach than these individuals often referred to as the de-churched. Pain gets in the way.

Our out-of-the-norm approach to ministry will create an atmosphere that will help bring people to Jesus. Our purpose is to proclaim freedom through the Good News (hence the name Freedom Church) to any and all. That means using different methods than what most would expect. Nontraditional styled services, intentional hospitality, and music are among the tools we'll employ to connect with the community. We'll promote relational evangelism and discipleship by equipping those the Lord sends with the tools and confidence in the Holy Spirit they'll need to be His witnesses in a dark age.

We've been called a subculture ministry. That's a label that we embrace as it speaks to our desire to reach those who don't feel comfortable in most churches. Our motto, "In Christ but out of the box" and credo, "A church for people who don't know how to do church" both speak to the call we feel. To reach cultures that are challenging for the established church to reach is what we need to do. Our methods, by necessity, are going to be different but we will NEVER compromise on the Word of God.

By adding to the mix of existing congregations, Freedom Church is being launched to work as a partner to the rest of the local church so that we can together preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ as effectively as possible. The unique flavor we have been called to create is to improve the overall reach of the Church of The Peoria Metro Area. Paul wrote that he strove to be all things to all men. The greater the variety of styles we offer, the more easily we can do that. The Kingdom is advanced when we all do our part. We will, by the grace and power of God, do all that we can to fulfill whatever part we play in rescuing the Hell-bound and adding to the Kingdom.

Pray for us and that we will find the increase necessary to fulfill His mission. Perhaps, this vision is what you've been seeking. Please, feel free to comment or contact us and let us know.