As most of our closest family and friends know, our family is in the process of relocating to Sweetwater, TN. Hopefully we’ll be moving into a home in town in a month or so. One of the main reasons for the move—the Lord moved our hearts for a new fellowship of believers—to plant a new church in Sweetwater. He has called us to this work, equipped us for it, and we believe He is opening the door for us to begin this task.
I know some of you may question the need for a new church in Sweetwater. I don’t blame you. So did I, at first. However, around 80% of folks in Sweetwater do not attend church on any given Sunday. Furthermore, to my knowledge, it has been at least 50 years or more since a new SBC church was started in Sweetwater. It may have even been as long as 65 years. Furthermore, about 200 million people in America are un-churched, making America one of the four largest “un-churched” nations in the world. Each year more than 3,500 churches close their doors permanently. Today, of the approximately 350,000 churches in America, 4 out of 5 are either plateaued or declining. Another persuading reason to start new churches: 80% of one denomination’s converts came to Christ in churches less than two years old. A host of other reasons may give more credence to this task, but the main reason is this: God has given us a burden for this work, and we are committed to it.
The name of this new fellowship of believers will be The Fellowship Church. The name reflects the focus of the church. We believe fellowship is vital in three areas:
(1) Fellowship with the Father—The most important relationship is with our Heavenly Father. So our central emphasis will be emphasizing the importance of an abiding fellowship with the Father through His Son.
(2) Fellowship with the Family—We also believe as followers of Christ, we must connect with one another through fellowship as a family of faith. So, we will gather regularly for worship, small groups, and special events where we can grow in our relationships with God and in our relationship with one another.
(3) Fellowship with the Fallen—Finally we will intentionally seek to build relationships with those who are not Christ followers, so that we can love them like Jesus loves us and introduce them to Him. We will seek not only to be compassionate friends but to reproduce a fellowship of believers in our own city, neighboring areas, our nation, and in the remotest parts of the earth.
Furthermore, we have a few core values we will strive to practice in our fellowship:
(1) Inclusive Fellowship; this means we will be a fellowship of believers that will welcome everyone regardless of race, social status, previous failures, or present struggles etc. We want to be a church that is known to love everyone.
(2) Authentic Community; this means we will be a fellowship that strives to eliminate hypocrisy. We will be genuine, realizing we all have personal struggles, and we will confess our sins to one another, forgive one another, pray for one another, encourage one another, and help one another through and out of our struggles.
(3) Intentional Mission; this means that our desire to reproduce our fellowship will not be passive. We will strive to seek opportunities to lead individuals into a personal relationship with Christ by sharing the Gospel message, that we will seek opportunities to begin new small groups, and that we will seek opportunities to plant new churches, and that we will faithfully take the steps necessary to see these hopes realized.
(4) Compassionate Ministry; this means that we will be a fellowship that strives to treat others with the compassion of Jesus, that we will seek to not only meet spiritual needs of people, but we will also strive to meet their physical needs as well, providing food for the hungry, clothes to the poor, and help for the addicted and counseling for the afflicted.
1. Pray for the Lord to move a local church to be willing to be the sponsor church for this church plant.
2. Pray for the Lord to raise up a leadership team for the launch; (1) Musicians for the praise team, (2) A Children’s Ministry Leader, (3) A Youth Ministry Leader, (4) An Outreach /Fellowship Leader, (5) An Administrative Leader
3. We plant to begin a Bible study and prayer focus for The Fellowship in a couple of weeks, so pray that the Lord reveals the time and place for us to meet.
4. Pray for the Lord to move hearts for people to attend our initial Bible study and prayer focus meetings.
Involvement: We plan to begin meeting for Bible Study & Prayer in a couple of weeks. We are still praying about the time and place. If you are interested in participating, please contact us, so we can update you.
As always, we love reading your comments and interacting with those who are interested in our lives. So please feel free to share your thoughts with us on this blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or any other way you prefer.
http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/i-will-build-my-church. Available online June 1, 2013.