Thursday, March 13, 2014

T Minus Six Months and Counting: Longview Launch Update

In February of 2013, Susan and I were called by East Hills to lead the launch of a new campus into Longview. In those days, the launch of a new campus seemed only a dream, as it was so far in the future.

“...this is a spiritual endeavor led by Him and nothing less.” 

I remember talking about how “next year” we would be launching a new congregation into Longview, with the ease of knowing it was well distant in the future. And when people asked what that would look like, often the answer was, “Great question! We’ll let you know when we figure it out!” But now when people ask when we’re launching the new campus, I tell them “Later this the fall.” And in January when I first spoke those words, it hit me. This is coming really fast! And the good news is when people now ask, “So what will this look like?” thankfully, I have some answers.

East Hills is about six months out from our target date to launch a new congregation into Longview. And there has been a lot that has already happened and there is a lot more still to do to make that a reality. What has been so encouraging is that we have seen God’s presence through every step of this process, revealing to our hearts month by month that this is a spiritual endeavor led by Him and nothing less.

Over the past six months, since our Dallas trip last September to plug in with a Leadership Network Site Planting Cohort (which is a really long title!), much has been accomplished. We have engaged in consistent prayer, continually seeking God’s leading and provision for this step of faith. We have revisited our vision and values statements, processing through them afresh in light of how they will guide us as one church operating with two campuses. We have taken significant steps in the development of an internal plan, including the development of structures and policies detailing both the unity and the uniqueness of one church operating with two campuses. We have processed through what each campus will consider imperatives in the ways they minister, what would be preferred in the ways they minister, what would be optional, and what would be discouraged. We continue to work through the development of organizational charts and role descriptions for staff and lay leaders. What we have realized is that branching out from one church campus to two constitutes the processing of a lot of organizational detail, but all of it is well worth it as it helps strengthen the foundation of who we will be and how we will operate in unison for Kingdom work.

We have been developing a clear communication strategy, which includes everything from how we will keep the congregation informed about launch happenings (special worship services, newsletter articles, weekend updates, etc.) to how we will inform our neighbors over in Longview that a “new church” is coming into their community. Part of our communication strategy will also include things like branding, in which we will strive to answer the question, “How can what we visually present through our logo, website design, and graphic design show the clear unity between both campuses, even though the campus names will be distinct?”

East Hills has been prayerfully making plans and crunching numbers with regard to financing the new campus.

As best as we can, we have been answering questions like, “What do we anticipate a new campus will cost month to month?” and “What will be the cost of needed capital items for the new campus?” While it’s extremely diffi- cult to answer these questions in a de- tailed way without yet knowing where we will be meeting, they are questions we continue to ask and process as we gain more and more insight into the cost of building and growing a new campus.

During the past months, staff and elders have continued to process the question, “What does it look like to launch a new ‘campus’ versus a new ‘church?’” And it has been exciting to develop plans regarding all the ways we will be united as one church with two locations. We have worked through many details regarding what it will look like to share a common DNA...that both campuses will share vision and core values. Both campuses will strive to be grace-centered, places of healing and authenticity, service-oriented, multi-generational, places that engage their community, and places that commit to life-transformation. We have processed through preaching strategies, including the development of a preaching rotation where each campus’ pastor will preach the majority of the time at his location, but Pastor Nick will come preach at the Longview campus about once a month, and I will go preach at the East Hills campus about once a month. We have concluded that both campuses will commit to sharing. Our common phrase over the past few months has been, “Why have two when one will do?” So we are committed to share staffing, resources, facility usage as needed, certain events like retreats, leadership gatherings, and training seminars, service opportunities, change groups, etc. We will even have events during the year where both campuses come together as one church body!
Another major part of our focus that we are just now launching into is the process of inviting and calling people to come along- side the new campus. We have set a goal to launch with a team of at least fifty people. There are a number of people from East Hills who have already said that they are committed to coming along. Others are considering coming on board. Maybe God has been prompting you to consider joining in. Over the next few months, we will have plenty of opportunities for people to get more information about what it means to join the launch team that will establish the Longview campus. You will have opportunities to ask your questions. And if you decide that you want to come on board, there will be numerous opportunities over the next six months to connect with other launch team members as we gear up together for this mission.

If you are looking for immediate opportunities to talk about coming along with the Longview campus launch, this month there will be a series of pizza get-togethers at Susan and my home in Lexington. If you have any interest in possibly joining the Longview campus, we would love for you to sign up and be a part of one of these connection points where we will have a chance to share a meal and share more of the vision with you in person, answering any questions you might have. Please sign up in the welcome center at church, or contact me at 423.0521 or

The next six months will be a whirlwind of prayer, planning, leadership and team development, ministry organization, fund- raising, site locating, and community connection. Please continue to pray for the launch of our Longview campus. Without God’s leading and empowerment, we can do nothing. But with Him, we can do more than we could ever ask or imagine. Please also consider how you will be involved in the Longview launch. Will you come with us? Will you stay at the East Hills campus but commit to pray for us? Will you choose to give over and above your regular offering to finance this mission? There are numerous ways to can be a part of what God is doing. Please feel free to connect if you have questions or would like more information.

I am thrilled to be on this journey with you,

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