Toward Two Congregations
I sat at Starbucks across from a church planter who has just launched a congregation in Kelso. In his first message to the new church community, he had challenged them to search their hearts for their motive in joining the movement. He voiced the words that have been on our collective hearts and minds, “This area doesn’t simply need more churches. So why are we doing this? Because there’s a lot of people who aren’t reached, and we need more churches determined to reach them.” Amen, brother, amen!
A few years back, we called every church in town and asked for their seating capacity. We took this number and we doubled it. Then we added a few thousand just to be sure. The results? We discovered that if every church in town was filled to capacity twice a weekend, there would still be 25,000 people without a seat! Does this county need more churches for churched people? No, but we could use a whole lot more faith communities that are effective in reaching the lost and creating bridges for people to walk back to God.
In May of this year, Jon and Susan Donohue went through a church planters’ assessment and were given an enthusiatic recommendation to be site planters. Since that time, we have continued to progress toward a date of September 2014 to launch this second congregation, and the Donohues will be a critical cog in working alongside this venture.
Our Alliance District is also stepping up and partnering with East Hills. To begin with, they have provided us with a 6-month “planning phase” grant of $6,000 to help offset the cost of salary for Jon. They have also covered our registration for a year-long cohort called The Multi-Site Jump Start Lab. Run by the Leadership Network, this process will have two separate two-day gatherings in Dallas, as well as a mid-year online forum. Jon and I will both take part in this, along with Kendra Shaw, out of the District Office, who will serve as a mentor and a coach in this process. While Jon will take a significant role in the launch, we need to all clearly understand that this is a team effort. WE are planting a church. WE together are launching a second congregation. And in the end, we will be one church meeting as two congregations. So this will still be us! And WE need all hands on deck! Right now, we want to encourage you to continue praying for the process and the location of the second congregation. In the months to come, you will also hear opportunities to jump on board financially, and ultimately the chance to partner with the second congregation. Be praying for God to move in your heart about your level of involvement.
Kelso/Longview doesn’t need one more cozy place for Christians to sing nicemusic. We need places of restoration and redemption where people who are far from God find that He is the very center of life, and so they return to Him. That is what we are trying to build here at East Hills, and in the next congregation as well. May God’s Kingdom expand through us!