finding our part in god's story
So How Do You Plant a Church?
Dreams, Prayers, & Stories
It’s been a prayer and a dream to plant a new church in Oakland, a place we love, and a place where we have been called.
In his High School years, Andy would take part in the worship gatherings of a great church on Lake Merritt called Regeneration Church. He witnessed a vibrant community that was full of imperfect people, and yet, it was clear that these folks who might not fit in anywhere else had found their tribe. The Regeneration community was managing the tension of re-centering their lives around the teachings of Jesus, and also doing this in a way that made sense for their Oakland context.
Andy was inspired, but his heart was also broken, because when it comes to national rankings of which cities are the least religiously affiliated, the San Francisco/Oakland metro area ranks #2 (in the nation). 33% of Oaklanders identify as religiously unaffiliated – or “nones”.
Jesus is already present here in Oakland, and there’s a strong heritage of Christians who have been serving and loving their neighbors and doing great ministry in Oakland long before there was a dream for this new church plant. That said, there are still thousands of people in Oakland who need to hear the good news of Jesus.
From this point on, a seed had been planted in Andy's heart, and that seed continued to grow into a dream and a prayer.
As for Sarah, she grew up in Oakland's Dimond District, and she'd tell you that growing up in Oakland was awesome. While we all know that Oakland is a wonderfully diverse, culturally rich city, it can also be a very lonely place. It can be hard to connect and know where you fit in.
As a child, her family attended a church in Oakland almost every weekend. But her church never touched her home.
She would tell you: We were never taught how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. There were a lot of empty rituals that were never explained to us. When our family was experiencing pain from death and divorce, instead of help and encouragement, we experienced judgment. Thankfully, God was faithful to draw me back to him after my college years, but I wonder how things could have been different for our family if we had a loving church community that helped us to know Jesus?
We think you’d agree that in Oakland, there are thousands of stories like Sarah’s. Maybe her story sounds a lot like your story?
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul tells us that there’s a Larger Story at work that holds and redeems all of our stories. That Story is that God is at work to bring unity to all things in heaven and earth under Christ Jesus.
Unity to all things.
Everything that’s broken, everything that’s lost.
It can all be healed and redeemed if Jesus is at the center.
In light of that Larger Story, we believe that God is calling us to start a new church called Reunion.
A Year-Long Journey
For Andy, Sarah, and the church plant "Launch Team," they'll be engaged in a tried-and-true 12-16 month launch plan.
There are 4-stages of launching a church plant, and each stage is about 3-4 months:
STAGE ONE: Developing the Launch Team
For the first 3-4 months, we'll be connecting with people who live in or around Oakland, asking them to be involved in starting a church as a member of our Launch Team. There will be plenty of opportunities to pray and learn and prepare for planting as a highly-committed team of people, from Oakland Prayer Tours, and Prayer & Worship Nights, 1:1 Coffee Meet Ups, and an Community Groups.
STAGE TWO: Preview Services & Ministry Development
Some key words to describe this stage are: Practice, Evaluate, Improve, Connect
The Launch Team will be engaged in a regular rhythm…
Host a Monthly Preview Worship Service where we'll invite people to gather with our church community, knowing that we're still working out the kinks in our ministries, and that they're invited to be a part of what God is forming.
Gather for a Launch Team Meeting to experience leadership training, evaluate what went well, and prepare for what's next.
Host a fun and meaningful Connection Event where people can keep getting to know us and connect with others.
Gather for a Launch Team Meeting.
Over the course of 3-4 months, we'll continue to grow and improve our church's leaders and ministries until we are ready to move from monthly to weekly worship gatherings.
STAGE THREE: Soft Launch
During the next 3-4 months, we'll move from monthly to weekly worship.
This "soft launch" time will be all about:
Developing the strength and structure of vital church ministries and systems.
Connecting people in newly formed Community Groups.
Strengthening & improving our ministry teams.
Developing our leadership and volunteers.
Finalizing our Grand Opening Launch Plan.
STAGE FOUR: Grand Opening
If they didn't already know, this is when we really let the Oakland community know: we’re here!
These next 3-4 months are meant to ensure that our community and ministry are doing things in a way that is sustainable, and are growing in their missional impact for future generations.
At this point, we'll want to have secured a great rental facility that can house 200+ people.
We're praying that increasing numbers of people will come to know God's love for them, begin to follow Jesus, and will find meaningful connection in our church community.
Our hope is to be a community that is a true reflection of our neighbors - a healthy mix of mission-minded Jesus followers alongside people who were formerly de-churched or unchurched.
YOU SHOULD BE A PART OF THE ADVENTURE!
This vision for a new church in Oakland is in us, and now, it’s time for us to do something big, and we’d like you to be a part of something big with us! We want to give you the opportunity to learn more about this church plant, and for us to get to know each other better, because we believe that God has plans for you to be a part of this new church community.
And so, on our Events Page, you’ll see that there are some upcoming Connection Events that you could take part in. You can take part in our Open Launch Team Meetings to get a sneak preview of what team life is like before you apply to join. You'll also see that you can schedule a Coffee Meetup with Andy and Sarah so we can get to know each other better, and you can ask them about any other questions you might have.
We’d love to get to know you so we can talk and pray about what God could do through a community that is following Jesus for the renewal of Oakland.
Partners for the Journey
We will be planting this new church as a part of the Evangelical Covenant Church network. Here's some things that we really like about them:
This denomination is robust in its church-planting assessment, training, and resources.
They empower and train women and men to be pastors and leaders.
They value and empower culturally diverse leaders so that churches look like Heaven.
They take Jesus, the Gospel, and sound theology very seriously, but don't take themselves too seriously.
They encourage their churches to discover their local compassion and justice initiatives from day one.
For more on ECC’s beliefs and affirmations: www.covchurch.org
We couldn't get very far without the generosity and support of a parent church that can support us while we are young and growing, and Cornerstone Fellowship is that parent church. Cornerstone is a healthy, vibrant, and generous church community, with campuses all over the East Bay. Although their usual practice has been to launch church campuses that remain a part of one church in many locations, they're committed to being one of our key financial and ministry partners until we are an independent, self-sustaining church community in Oakland.