My brother, James, has been living in Virginia for the past few years. He went to Liberty University and has been slowly moving his way into ministry. This weekend he and his team will be launching a church in Midlothian, a suburb of Richmond, called Village Church at Midlothian (I swear Midlothian is a country in Middle Earth from LOTR!).
I had the opportunity to interview Nate Schlomann, one of the pastors, check it out:
1. What process have you gone through up to this point – what have you learned?
One thing that was huge for us is that this isn’t really our first launch, not totally. We gained a lot of experience and perspective starting a church in a college town not too far from here. It’s not completely comparable because there we literally had a $0 budget (not that we’ve got a huge one here), but the experience was still invaluable. It’s hard to imagine going into this completely green. By doing something like that you learn a lot about people and how to lead, a lot of times by making mistakes or at least by noticing things you could have done better.
2. What are some specific & innovative things you are doing to attract/gather/launch?
I don’t know that we’re particularly innovative so much as we’re innovative to our culture. Like, when you live in the blogosphere and see what everyone is doing all over the place, it takes an awful lot to seem innovative. But I do think we’re doing a lot of things really well that people around here haven’t seen before. Not that it’s all about that, but there are a lot of things people need to see that we’ll be doing. We’re preaching the hard parts of God’s Word unapologetically, but at the same time very sensitively to the lost, hurt, and discouraged. That’s a combination that is innovative around here. We’ve definitely got an atmosphere like no one else – music loud, lights low. People just aren’t doing that around here. Innovative for church plants around here, and it’s sad that it is, is we’re aggressively trying to get the word out that we’re here. We passed out 8,000 door hangars last week. We’re doing our best to use facebook and email invites too.
3. What does your launch team look like?
Our launch team is amazing. In a lot of ways it’s really not fair to other launch teams, the talent God has brought together here. We’ve got people to fill a variety of different and complimentary roles. Most new churches have to struggle through some major deficiencies until they are able to bring folks onboard to fill those slots. Not that we’re perfect by any means or that we don’t need help (we do!), but we’re really fortunate for how many different talents God has put together. And I think, making that all the better, we have a very unified team. Most of us were pretty good friends with at least one other person in the team before we started. We didn’t just get thrown together out of seminary or bible school, in other words. The level of commitment in our team, top to bottom, is unusually high.
I’m a huge fan of church plants, I was part of a church plant for 5 years, and have helped my friends and colleages every time a new church is launched in our community. It’s been shown that the most effective thing we can do to reach people with the Gospel is to plant churches. Church plants thrive because the must! There’s not a lot of half hearted leadership in church plants because their existence depends on their commitment to reach unchurched or dechurched people with God’s love, grace, mercy, and truth.
Please keep these guys in your prayers over this weekend as they seek to reach their community for Christ and continue to build his kingdom here on Earth.
Stay tuned for Part 2 with James…