Church Plants reaching new people through outdoor gatherings and online offerings
During the summer months, many of our church plants have begun to meet outdoors in addition to continuing an online worship service or connection time. The outdoor spaces allow for effective social distancing, and yet still allow for people to see each other, which is a significant need in this moment.
Many of our churches are adopting a “both and” posture rather than an “either or” posture when it comes to digital and in-person services in order to meet spiritual needs—and even to grow.
Here are a few fun, short updates or stories from church plants in our Conference.
At Crossview Covenant Church’s new Rosa Parks location in Mankato, Crossview South held its first in-person preview service in the COVID era on July 19 and had 49 people—including five new families—show up that have never been to the church before. Three of those families were not going to any church.
Many of these new attenders were people that Pastors Brian and Sandi Asker had made personal connections with after moving down to plant this new church over a year ago, including the realtor they purchased their home from! Stories like these remind us of the deep value in cultivating relationships and living and speaking in a way that make others curious about faith. Faith has always had a personal aspect to who we are but never needs to be a private thing.
Across the St. Croix River at The Crossing Covenant Church, Pastor Michele Arndt has begun outdoor services as well and has found in this moment the simple and stripped down service is actually a draw. People are seeking each other’s presence much more than seeking perfection or production from churches in this era.
In St. Paul, Catalyst Covenant Church began its worship services the first week in August and had five first time guests join. Pastor Jeff Olson, who also serves as Church Planting Associate for the NWC, expressed how before church began the team was able to connect with an outdoor fitness group, a number of people walking the park and even had one of those walkers stop and stay for the service. These are all people whom the church would have never had contact with at its previous indoor location.
At North City Church in Minneapolis, Pastors JD and ChristianAnn Larson plan to launch in-person and digital micro-church expressions later in August that alternate from week to week. This means every other week there is a large group gathering, and on the weeks in-between smaller groups will gather that are focused on the mission of loving young families, and cultivating rest and community at the same time.
This time is no doubt full of challenges, but what are some of the opportunities you are seeing in your church at this moment? In the new ways your church has been doing ministry, what ways has God surprised you over the past several months?