Lately I’ve been wondering if my wife, Gina, and I missed the segment at the ARC Conference titled “Church Startups While Social Distancing in Groups No Larger Than 10 People.” As we envisioned the mission and ministry of our church while planning for launch, we always wanted Trademark Church to look different, to help people where they are, and not expect them to come to us. But nothing prepared us for this!
Although restrictions have forced us to move slowly and less efficiently than planned, we have adapted to the environment. It may sound ridiculous, but I think we may like it this way.
I would like to share a couple phrases that have held us together during the past five months of Trademark Church’s launch.
No one remembers easy. God is not wringing His hands in heaven trying to figure this out. It feels to us like new territory, but He allowed it and has prepared us for it. Still, the challenges have been very real. It feels more like catching up than pioneering. It’s like crawling when we want to run.
The trenches are full of people whose lives have been disrupted. Conversations have become more difficult, hospital stays more frightening. Single parents are anxiously struggling to hold jobs and teach their kids at the same time. We are here for them in these difficult situations. This is a startup we will remember, and it is one worth fighting for. Hebrews 10:24
Just because thousands of people aren’t attending doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. Church the way we knew it isn’t where we’re going, but God is still in it! Our team realizes this looks nothing like any church we’ve ever seen. Last week when we were delivering groceries to a low-income housing development, someone in the group asked our team, “Where is your church located?” In the ensuing silence they all turned to look at us while shrugging their shoulders inquiringly, and one of us mumbled under his breath, “I think it’s everywhere.”
I remind our team how the early Church grew. It had no budget, no clear leadership structure, no buildings, and not much earthly support. It was even opposed and persecuted, but still it spread like wildfire! Revival always comes in a time of greatest need, not when we decide it fits best in the church calendar while at our planning retreat. It is absolutely worth it! Acts 2:47
There are no statistics on something that hasn’t been done yet. Most of our metrics may as well be in a recycling bin. Sometimes we just stare at Planning Center and laugh because our traditional measures are mostly useless. It’s incredibly humbling to have no idea how to measure what God is doing. The way our team keeps score has to be simplified and subjective.
Pastors entering ministry in 2020 and the years to come must be editors, designers, and artists. They need to use technology creatively.
Trademark Church reaches hurting people through Linktree, TikTok, and Facebook Creator Studio. If podcasts and Hulu ads can reach people where they are, we will be there. Matthew 6:4
Every day is day one. People are making “day one decisions” constantly, and we need to be ready for them. Every day is launch day for a lot of people, and we want to be present for those moments. Throughout the months leading to our kickoff, we’ve learned that being there for someone’s big moment is often more important than getting him here for our big moment! James 5:19-20
Yesterday Gina and I resolved to change our language from “we don’t know if this is going to work” to “how can we make sure this works?” We are a church that’s also a tech startup, but most days we aren’t sure if we can afford color copies instead of black and white. Still, God hasn’t changed one bit, and He will use all this craziness to advance His Kingdom.
Document every step of the journey. Take pictures, be transparent, and show people the reality of it. People want access to a pastor now more than ever. We have the chance to show them what ministry is truly about, and one day we’ll look back at this and smile because no one remembers easy.
Neil and Gina Greathouse and their family recently moved back to Columbus, Ohio, to plant Trademark Church. They are already holding services online and are excited for their official launch in September 2020. They are confident that by loving people the way Jesus shows us in the Bible, they can make a kingdom impact on Columbus. Learn more at trademarkoh.io.
Awesome article Neil. As a fellow “pandemic planter”, I am so encouraged by this. “No one remembers easy”! ????????