Saturday, April 20, 2013

Planting a Missional Church in Jupiter, Florida

Palm Beach County, Florida is typical of American culture in the early 21st century:  a widening gap between rich and poor, a challenging economy, distracted and consumed with entertainment, polarizing opinions about politics, and an increasing resistance towards God and spirituality.  This is not what the church expected 20 years ago.  At the height of the church growth movement, there appeared to be no ceiling to reaching Americans and getting them “plugged into” church.  However, post-modernity has changed the landscape of American culture and left the church struggling to find a new voice.

My wife Amber and I have spent the last eleven years as missionaries to this emerging, post-modern culture in Palm Beach County.  We have started several small communities of faith as a means to understand more about this culture and as a prophetic statement that the Kingdom of God really is like a mustard seed.  We have been tempted many times to plant a church with all the traditional trappings, but keep getting drawn back to a simple, prophetic calling: to call together a movement of the Kingdom.

We have discovered that amazing things can be accomplished if we learn how to work with the Holy Spirit and rely on his resources, not our own.  In fact, there is no back up plan, because there is no need for a back up plan.  He is the only well that never runs dry.  Along the way, we have discovered that there are a few things that really make the Holy Spirit happy:

1.  When people learn how to love and serve Jesus with their whole lives and become his Apprentices.
2.   When those apprentices join God's Mission and find ways to love and serve their friends, neighbors, co-workers, and community in which they live.
3.  When room is made for each other as friends, comrades, and companions in spiritual family - what the Bible calls Oikos.
4.  When those oikoi live in Unity and understand that they are part of God's Big Bride, the Church.

We are looking for individuals who believe in Kingdom come, have a desire to cultivate spiritual families, and want to be a part of a missional movement in northern Palm Beach County.  Specifically, we are in the process of calling together a core team who will meet together for a few months to lay the foundation for what is to come.  Later this year, we will begin following the Holy Spirit into our social networks proclaiming the Kingdom and looking for people of peace (Luke 10).  Once this first oikos reaches maturity, the process will begin again.  We will also be establishing a larger, public worship gathering and continue to provide opportunities for growth through Everyday Mission.

If you want a title or recognition as a leader, this will not be a place for you.  We are looking for people who want to see God's Kingdom made known in their own lives and in the lives of others and are willing to get dirty along the way.  There will be conflict, failures, set-backs, opposition, and a lot of need for prayer.  But oh, are we going to have a lot of fun.  We routinely say that we live in paradise.  Jupiter and the Palm Beaches is an incredibly desirable place to live and raise a family.  But it is also a place of huge contrasts - between rich and poor, powerful and helpless, and young and old.  Like so much of America, deep change is occurring, which is prime soil to sow and reap a harvest.

The faith community we have been a part of for the past six years, The Well, will remain and will be a sister church and ally.  Making the decision to leave The Well and establish a new foundation was very difficult.  But without their support and encouragement, none of this would be possible.

If joining our core team interests you, or you would like to be kept informed of our plans later in the year, please contact me.