Over the last few years I have noticed that there are a number of new church plants in my area. Pair this with the explosion of church planting networks around the country and you would have to be blind not to see a trend occurring within Christianity.
I love the church and I love the idea of church planting. As such I wanted to interview a few church planters and get their take on the current culture of church planting and what they see is going on from the front lines. As such I contacted a handful of church planters and ask them to answer a series of questions. The first planter I spoke with was Wade Allen. Today we talk with a church planter in Hickory, North Carolina by the name of Crockett Davidson. If you would like you can check out his churches website, his churches Twitter, his Twitter or friend him on Facebook.
Vintage church just celebrated their one year anniversary this past Sunday (March 18th). Before you read what Pastor Davidson has to say check out the video the church put together to celebrate.
1. The History of Vintage City Church
The idea of Vintage City started when I became a Christian at 18 years old. I was not someone who grew up in church nor did I have any idea of what church should be or look like. When I became a Christian I fell in love with God’s Word and could not stop reading it. As a new believer I lived in the gospels and the book of Acts so when I went to church I immediately saw a disconnect between the bible and the church. My first thought about the church was it is a place for church people and everything it does is to grow and help them be more like Jesus, but I was reading verses like “I desire mercy not sacrifice for I have not come to call the righteous but the sinners, The Son of Man has come to seek and save that which is lost and go and make disciples!” The book of Acts is filled with passionate followers who would go anywhere and tell everyone about the resurrected Savior. I mostly saw programs and classes not obedience and urgency so Vintage City was already laid on my heart at a young age.
I followed God’s calling into youth ministry for 10 years and then it was when Stadia contacted me to come to church planting assessment in Chicago. Natalie (my amazing wife) and I agreed to go but we were far from thinking this was what God was calling us to. During the four day assessment the Holy Spirit not only spoke to us but to those assess us and it was very clear that God wanted us to plant a church for a people who didn’t like church.
Three days later we were contacted by Dave Milam the leader of Envision a church planting organization in North Carolina. Natalie and I had already been praying about North Carolina so we saw this as God directing our path. We loved the team here in North Carolina and when it came to picking a city we did not want to go to a city that was saturated with church plants. They gave us a list of cities and so I spent a week traveling through the state, praying in the city and talking with people.
God sent us to Hickory North Carolina a city hungry and thirsty for something new. There are plenty of churches in Hickory and it trust me when I say Hickory did not need another church but a different kind of church. There are so many people here who have been burned by church, hurt or felt disconnected to what church should be.
Vintage City started with 6 in my living room in the month of December and launched with 176 March 2012. We are getting ready to celebrate our 1 year anniversary next month.
2. Why do you think there is a rise in church planting?
1) I think there is a rise in church planting for many different reasons…..1) Church planting has become the new youth ministry. Church planting has become very sexy, but what people don’t know is that church planting is the furthest thing from sexy. It’s hard, dirty, grimy, full of highs and lows. I can say without a doubt that church planting is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
2) I believe the American church is finally getting back to biblical principles and strategies. Church planting is not a new thing; it was done all throughout the new testament. It has always been a major part of the church’s life. I believe God is starting a movement in His church of making disciples and reaching those far from God. Church planting is the best way to do that.
3) There are many organizations, colleges, conferences pushing church planting which until now has never really happened before. I did a phone interview with a young girl who is getting her masters in church planting. So when these organizations push naturally push people follow. I think this is all apart of God’s plan to getting back to restoring NT values.
4) Some pastors want to be famous… I know that is not something talked about or discussed openly among Christian leaders but there is an appeal and pride that comes from starting something from nothing and then watching it grow and you the leader becoming famous because of it. A lot of the Christian culture puts up hero’s like Bob Russell, Andy Stanley, Mark Driscoll which I have a ton of respect for but to often pastor want to be them and they miss what God has for their individual lives.
5) Finally the existing church (whether we like it or not) has hurt a lot of people. I planted a church in Hickory North Carolina, which has a ton of churches, but I often meet people who have not been to church in years because of their distain for it. People need reintroduced to church and often times they need a different kind of church.
3. Three pieces of advice someone would have told you before you started church planting.
1. It will be hard working with other Christians. I am naturally a team player and love doing things together but when you move into a town and your young passionate and you have this new idea of church then it offends people. There are those in the Christian community that don’t understand churches are declining, only 31% of America goes to church and I really think some believe everything is ok. Things are NOT ok. People are dyeing without a Savior, communities are hurting and cities are broken. I believe God wants to unite his people for something bigger but often times Christians are the biggest obstacles. There are very few kingdom minded people and I was not prepared for that.
2. People will try to rob you of your vision. There will be people who come into your church and have good intentions but they will want to make it like their previous experience at some other church. They will cast their vision and they will ask you to make it like they see and probably what they see has nothing to do with why you planted this church. Again this people have great hearts and they don’t mean to do this but you as a leader have to know that people will have good ideas. Maybe not God ideas…
3. Spiritual Warfare is very real… I have talked with so many planters who have had experiences like something you would see in a movie. Their can be attacks on you physically, emotionally and on your family. The good news is the gates of hell will not overcome, but as a planter you have to understand that you are up against things unseen. Stay close to Jesus and trust your calling.
4. What has God taught you through this experience?
-God is at work in places and in people long before you step on the scene in any church or city.
-Failure is a lie from the father of lies. Jesus wants you to look more like him each day and so if by planting a church or starting a business or running a non profit that happens then you are successful no matter what the outcome.
-God is faithful when you are not.
-God loves his church more than you.Barefoot Church by Brandon Hatmaker
-God more interest in what is going on in you then through you.
5. Books you would recommend.
1. The Measure of Success by Shawn Lovejoy
2. Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley
3. Church is a Team Sport by Jim Putman
4. Church in the Making by Ben Arment
5. Confessions of a Reformissional Rev Mark Driscoll
6. And The Gathered and Scattered Church by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay
7. Barefoot Church by Brandon Hatmaker (This is for your own sanity and it will make you laugh, I promise)