It all started last fall with a simple phone call. The district superintendent of a large evangelical denomination called to ask for my help. He explained that one of his churches had just submitted themselves to the denomination for redevelopment and he was looking for me to coach them through the process.
Woodland Hills Church’s ministry had been long and significant, but unfortunately it had reached the point of no return. With dwindling numbers of attendees down to about 30 adults, they were having trouble keeping their doors open. With the help of the district superintendent they had committed to redevelopment to get the denomination’s help and seek to protect the remaining assets.
A separate congregation, Community Christian Alliance Church (CCAC), was recruited to sponsor and oversee the redevelopment. CCAC is a thriving multicultural Chinese church across town. Their ministry already includes services for three different language groups.
Together we decided to close the Woodland Hills Church with the desire to plant a new church at that same location in about six months. We held several meetings with leaders and members where I had to “cast vision for closing their church.” As you can imagine, this was not initially well-received, especially by some people who had been serving in that church for 30+ years. For several weeks I was definitely the “bad guy.” But after much prayer and communication, the people began to accept the vision for the new church.
During this same time period, I met several times with the elders of CCAC to help them grasp the vision and accept the sacrifice of planting the new church. The associate pastor of CCAC was selected to be the church planter for the new congregation. This generated some enthusiasm as three of the elders stepped up to join the new church as well.
For a period of four months the remaining members of the closed church were invited to become part of CCAC, and at the end of that time they could choose to stay or attend the new church. The new planting pastor and elders met individually with many members of both churches to help people decide which church to attend. Through this process a core group of about 60 people emerged to start the new church.
Together they are dreaming a new dream for an externally-focused, missional church that provides a variety of ministry teams in the community as well as in the church. Recently the core group began to live this out by providing gift baskets to the teachers of five local schools just days after a traumatic shooting and lock down of the campuses. They are planning continued ministry to these schools.
I recently had the privilege of providing two days of training to the leadership teams of these two churches. I have been helping them both develop missional vision and values as well as new externally-focused teams. It is exciting to see both the new church and the sponsor church commit to reaching their communities in new ways.
While all of this has been going on, a volunteer team has been overseeing the renovation of the facility in preparation for the new church which is now called New Life Church. My prayer is for the leaders of New Life Church as they begin public ministry this month. Please pray for me as I continue to coach the pastors and leaders of both churches in the months ahead.
National Ministry Coach