Ed Stetzer had a recent post about why churches should plant churches. I completely agree, and I wanted to mention three churches that are doing things that I’m really impressed with and thankful for. I could easily write about others, but here are three that are on my mind and in my prayers often lately.
One of my best friends Andy McDonald is re-starting Redeemer Norman. Here’s what’s amazing about this – he’s giving up a church building and moving into an elementary school. Andy and I were campus ministers together at OU and he became the pastor of Redeemer. They had a building, but it was way out on Highway 9, past the casino, out toward Newcastle. Now he’s right in his neighborhood. Instead of having their own place, they’re packing it up and setting it up. This is a ton, ton of work. He’s doing it because he cares so much about Norman and the gospel. He’s doing it because God has called him away from what is easier and to what is better. He’s doing it because he loves the gospel and that neighborhood and wants to be physically in that city.
We moved to a neighborhood called Gatewood almost three years ago. Our house is a few blocks from the Plaza District, which has gotten super cool and trendy. It used to be a place no one wanted to go. Now it’s packed and parking is a problem. You can try to get a table at the Mule and if that doesn’t work you can pop over to Saints. You can buy art, pie, get a tattoo, take a dance class and stand in line for pizza. Soon, you’ll be able to buy great food and craft beer at Oak and Ore.
In the midst of all of that, my friend Kenny Deason pastors The Parish. He’s in there embedded into that community. He’s always walking around. He’s a part. They’ve worked to create a space that people want to come to and hang out at. Kenny loves Christ and he preaches the gospel without compromise. They serve the community in love and mercy. And they love their street. I was there recently when people poured in for a Doctor Who watch party. They display art. They made a coffee shop and sell beer. The Parish is doing incredible work, and it just seems so right.
Frontline is the biggest (and “oldest”) of these three churches. They have a few thousand people. Charlie Hall leads worship. Josh Kouri preaches the gospel boldly and compassionately. They have quite a team of pastors and leaders who walk together and love so well.
Frontline took over the old City Church building on 10th and Robinson. City Church had bought it some years before. It’s an important concept for any “start up” to inhabit old spaces in new ways. New things can’t build that sort of infrastructure or obtain those resources. They are wise to take over abandoned spots. My friend Dave calls this the Hermit Crab approach. Steve Johnson discusses this in Where Good Ideas Come From.
I love Frontline’s fusion of the old and new. They sing old hymns and ones that they’ve written. They have screens and logos and stained glass windows. They’re loving the community and especially engaging with the lost and broken, those looking for hope and friendship and God.
May the Lord bless these works and others. May he bring about new things in the midst of the old. May he use us at City Pres to plant churches in our city.