Planting Lunchtime Churches

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Last week I shared breakfast with a planter of unusual churches. He’s a former member of our staff who resigned because he felt God called him to “pastor” a company in the wake of a mass murder on their premises.

His first week was notable. He arrived early one day to play worship music on his guitar in the room where the tragedy occurred. His goal was to fill that place with the presence of the Lord. His fear was that he would get caught doing it. He was. The one person he feared most caught him. When she discovered his intent, she asked if he would be willing to come early one day a week. She thought it would be good for morale.

Soon word got around and he became the designated “prayer person” for the company. After that a noontime Bible study outgrew the space available.

Upon moving the study to a vacant floor in a nearby office building the small group grew into a lunchtime church with a congregation of 120 plus. Most of the members found Christ in that church. Many are single moms with very little weekend time. That church is their only church.

My friend passed the large group onto another leader and it is thriving. Today he pastors three “micro churches” in the downtown area.

The strategy is to begin with just one other person. They meet in restaurants or bars during the lunch hour. The next phase involves other people working in the same company (or in the same building) as the original member.

The vision is to define church around a community rather than a building or even a meeting. These people spend 40 hours together each week. My friend has them caring for each other in an ongoing basis. They don’t go to church, they are church. The fact that they walk a couple of blocks to a church meeting is secondary to the relationships they build. Again, this is the only church most of these people attend.

This is obviously a bi-vocational outreach. The cool thing about it is that it is infinitely reproducible (and scalable to boot).

I want to pass these ideas along to others in our congregation in the belief that we really can disciple entire communities.