Backwards & Inside Out
We are doing our best to follow God’s timing and not rush this crucial development process. We need to make sure the DNA is set before beginning weekly worship gatherings. In many ways, it would be much easier (and certainly quicker) to find a space, get a great worship leader/band, send out postcards and launch weekly worship services. I have a conviction though that Holly Springs needs more churches, not just more worship services. In our view, these are not one and the same.
Gathering for worship is one of the defining characteristics of the body of Christ. However, rather than focus first on our gathering, our vision is to be a church that scatters with Gospel intentionality. That means intentionally living as salt and light in the places where God has already sent us. For us, the church is not primarily a place where things happen (worship services) but a people living on mission demonstrating and declaring the love of Christ to those God dearly loves but will very likely never come to a worship gathering at any church.
We have recently been describing this approach to people as “backwards” from what many churches and even church plants are doing. Please don’t misunderstand – I’m not saying those churches are taking the wrong approach. God is using many of them in some incredible ways to lead people to follow Christ. We just feel that based on who and where we are, church needs to feel and function differently. If we aren’t careful, we can easily get caught up in doing church week in and week out rather than being the church in our community every day.
Rather than having an approach that tells people to “come and see”, we want to equip followers of Jesus to “go and be”. In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus told His followers to GO and make disciples of all nations. In John 20:21, He told them that in the same way He was sent by God, He was sending them to represent Him in the world. It’s really hard to do that from inside a church building. If we truly become an “inside out” church, our primary focus will always be living as missionaries in the places where we have already been sent.
So what about worship gatherings? They’re still important. They just aren’t the most important aspect of who we are as a church. WHEN we begin gathering together for worship (and we certainly will), we want it to be a celebration of what God has been doing in and through us in the community throughout the week as well as a resending to go back out and see God do it again.
That is what our LIFEgroups are all about. Each group will exist for the purpose of demonstrating and declaring the Gospel to a specific people group in the community. They will follow a 4 week cycle that includes a week to PRAY for their people group, a week to PLAN for how they are going to serve, a week to POUR by serving, and the last week is a PARTY to connect with friends, neighbors, and coworkers that don’t know Christ. We are currently preparing and planning to launch our first two LIFEgroups in February.
Another vital aspect of our LIFEgroups are what we call DNA Groups. DNA stands for Discipleship, Nurture, and Accountability. These are same-gender groups that meet about every week to pray for and encourage each other to go deeper in their personal relationship with Christ. (Check out our DNA questions here.)
This strategy was birthed out of the encounter that Jesus had with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:1-15…
When she showed up to the well, she brought her empty bucket. We understand that outside of a relationship with Jesus, every one of us is empty so we need to BRING our empty buckets to Jesus. This primarily happens when we gather together for worship
During their conversation, Jesus offered the woman living water that would become a spring of life that would not only satisfy her thirsty soul but would overflow out of her into the lives of others. Jesus alone can FILL us and ultimately satisfy the deepest craving of our souls. For us this mainly happens in our LIFEgroups and DNA groups.
Throughout the Bible it’s clear that God doesn’t imply bless His people so they will be blessed. He blesses them so they will BE a blessing to those around them. That’s what happens when the life and love of Jesus overflow out of us into the lives of others. We POUR the living water of Jesus into our community as we serve together in our LIFEgroups.
Just like breathing, this is a process that must repeat for our church to survive and thrive in our mission to multiply followers of Jesus as we demonstrate and declare God’s love in tangible ways in the places we live, work, and play.
This approach is definitely unconventional, slower and kind of messy, but we feel it’s biblical and will help us become the church God has called us to be here in Holly Springs. Your prayers and partnership are crucial at every step of this process.
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