Starting a Church in 2020

Church planters share their advice from the front lines.

In April 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mosaix Global Network launched a series of live webinars on Zoom and Facebook Live to hear from and tell the stories of pastors in the midst of the crisis (these conversations can be accessed on the Mosaix Global Network YouTube channel).

Our first guest was John M. Perkins, and the call was meant to check in on him, to hear from him and to pray for him. As you might imagine, he provided the bulk of ministering that day, sharing the Word of God and his love for people as only Perkins can do. We also spoke with pastors in New York City, including Michael Carrion, Jenn Petersen, Drew Hyun and Guy Wasko. Their heartbreaking stories from the front lines and their authenticity were palpable.

Another episode, featuring Efrem Smith, Michelle Reyes, Ray Chang from Wheaton College and John C. Richards, dealt with increased instances of racism against Asian Americans and intersectional issues related to racism directed at blacks.

Specific to church planting, we invited those working toward launch in 2020 to discuss the demands and rewards of doing so in this moment in order to benefit others who might be in their shoes. Inés Velásquez-McBryde and Bobby Harrison, church planters in Southern California, as well as Dele and Oneya Okuwobi of 21st Century Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, were our guests.

Here are some of the takeaways.

Dele Okuwobi

We had been planning to launch in fall 2020. But something in my heart said, COVID-19 has launched you. This is your moment; this is your launch. Get moving!

My advice? Take whatever resources you have right now and manage them well. Be accountable for every penny you have received, every relationship developing. Take what you have and do something with it.

Inés Velasquez-McBryde

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Consider Lydia. She was not bothered by the fact that there was not a synagogue in the area; instead, she went to the river to worship God and pray with others. Lydia embodied an entrepreneurial spirit and leveraged her own house as a base of operations.

When we think with a Western mentality, we may miss the fact that we actually have a lot at our disposal. This is a moment in which the Spirit is inviting us to look into the book of Acts and unlearn what we have been taught and/or how we have been socially conditioned to create a production on Sunday morning as if this were the church.

Oneya Okuwobi

Church planters must think with a mindset of abundance, not of scarcity. For years, communities of color in this country, due to structural disadvantages, have had to do so and to ask, What resources do we have in the community, and how can these be used to advance the gospel as well as the common good?

With this in mind, we should encourage our people to become the hands and feet of Jesus wherever they are, in an incarnational way and in so doing lead them to become the church. Geography is no longer a boundary. Be a cheerleader. Discuss with them the needs, challenges and joys of ministry while providing resources.

Bobby Harrison

On a recent walk, three Cs came to mind: connectivity, creativity and collaboration. Church planters like us should focus less on providing content in the moment and more on connecting people relationally to one another in a way that invites them to participate with us in the mission of God. Second, we need to be creative and flexible. Finally, collaboration is often hindered by time and geography. The things that normally keep us apart, they are not there anymore. We have a lot more margin to connect, and we should do so.

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