Mike Cope's blog

Sunday, December 04, 2005

I am pumped about the plans a young Highland couple, Chrissy and Steve Holt, have in the near future. I'm going to include below some words they've written about "Harvest Boston," but you can read much more at www.harvestboston.blogspot.com Feel free to ask any follow-up questions. I'll ask Steve to check in with the comments and respond. When I hear them talk, I think I envision the future look of the church: small groups that leak into the crevices of our cities, participating in the work of God that's already breaking out. If the fact hasn’t been clear all along, it should be now: North America is a mission field. Some estimate that the number of un-churched in the United States and Canada exceeds 250 million people, which is now the third-largest un-churched population in the world. In a post-Christian society – which the West is quickly becoming, if it isn’t already – slow change in the church will spell almost certain death. Healthy and mission-centered communities of Christ need to begin forming and reproducing at an unprecedented rate just to keep up with the millions born, the millions immigrating, and the millions leaving Christian churches in the United States every year. New England is one of the most un-churched regions in the nation. Both hailing from the East Coast originally, Chrissy and I decided to join God’s work in Boston, Massachusetts, beginning in the summer of 2006. We believe God has set us aside for simple, relational evangelism and church planting in New England. Our hope is that the Lord will use the Holts to facilitate the planting of a vibrant family of Jesus Christ within close reach — culturally and geographically — of every Bostonian. That means every diverse neighborhood, people group, and family system has the opportunity not only to hear the gospel of Jesus, but to join a community of Christ-followers not unlike themselves and committed to Kingdom expansion. Is this a lofty goal? You bet. But so was Christ's commission to “…make disciples of all nations…” in Matthew 28. I think a more appropriate model for our ministry may be in Luke 10, however: "The Lord now chose seventy-two other disciples and sent them on ahead in pairs to all the towns and villages he planned to visit. These were his instructions to them: ‘The harvest is so great, but the workers are so few. Pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest, and ask him to send out more workers for his fields. Go now, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves. Don't take along any money, or a traveler’s bag, or even an extra pair of sandals. And don't stop to greet anyone on the road. Whenever you enter a home, give it your blessing. If those who live there are worthy, the blessing will stand; if they are not, the blessing will return to you. When you enter a town, don't move around from home to home. Stay in one place, eating and drinking what they provide you. Don't hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work deserve their pay. If a town welcomes you, eat whatever is set before you and heal the sick. As you heal them, say, 'The Kingdom of God is near you now.’” Until God leads us in another direction, we believe we are being sent out like Jesus sent the seventy-two: as a pair. This does not weaken our team; instead, the smaller size strengthens our team, makes it more mobile, and fosters a united vision that is more difficult in larger teams. We are not going this alone, however. Edification and community are vital in the lives of missionaries, especially in large, unfamiliar cities. We were blessed to meet several other church planters on our research trip in April who are in the Boston metropolitan area, and have even become friends with a team of several Harding University students who will begin their ministry in Boston next summer. Our future Christian community and accountability network seems to grow each day as we learn of more and more that God is doing on the East Coast. Logistically, when we arrive in Boston I will work full-time and Chrissy will begin a MBA program in non-profit management at a local university. My undergraduate degree is in print journalism, so I am currently seeking writing or editing positions with companies or weekly publications. Chrissy’s heart is in managing an existing non-profit organization or helping to establish a new one. Because we do and will not separate our lives from ministry, we believe the evangelistic connections we make will come in the natural rhythms of our lives: in work, in study, and in play. For this reason, our church form will take a simple, relational structure. We believe “authentic faith communities” will pop up wherever we intentionally announce the kingdom of God, whether in our home, the home of a neighbor, on a lunch break at work, or in a local coffee shop. Our formal missions training has largely been in forming spiritual friendships that lead to the establishment, nurturing, and reproduction of house or “simple” churches. We believe this form is especially functional in a densely populated urban center of North America like Boston. Our ultimate aim is not to baptize as many people as we can or even to plant a single church, but to be a part of the in-breaking of the reign of God wherever we are — work, school, home. We want to serve people, declaring to them the coming of a “new order” — the reign of God — and invite them into the exciting existence of living in full participation with and submission to that reign. This is a kingdom life that values justice, service, sanity, spiritual disciplines, hospitality, community, non-violence, and mission, among many other things. We believe the kingdom life described above, the life described in the book of Acts, will be good news — “gospel” — to a widow neighbor, a newspaper editor, or maybe a MBA student in Boston.

15 Comments:

  • Bravo! Many of us have been encouraging church planting for years but I have never heard it described so boldly. May God empower us by his Holy Spirit to proclaim the Saviorhood and Lordship of Christ to those around us in every city! Let the revolution begin!

    By Blogger Paul, at 12/04/2005 04:04:00 PM  

  • God will work through Steve & Chrissy because He is at work within them! The co-workers and classmates will become their friends and their love for Jesus and neighbor will become apparent to all.

    Not only will they baptize many people, they will plant many churches.

    Revival will come to Boston the moment that the Holts arrive. This is because revival has come to their hearts. Result-less, relationship-less, rule-filed, religion won't work for them and consequently...they won't work for it!

    I too, am pumped!

    By Blogger Joel Quile, at 12/04/2005 08:50:00 PM  

  • my wife and I are in the southwest in a church plant attempting to do the same thing that Steve & Chrissy are doing in the Notheast. This is very encouraging! I am so excited for them and their new adventure with God and His work. The relationships they build will be like non-other! These are truly exciting times we live in.

    By Blogger Josh, at 12/04/2005 09:59:00 PM  

  • Josh - Tell us more about what you and your wife are doing in this church plant.

    Also -- anyone else who's doing the same sort of thing, please let us know so we can be praying for you.

    By Blogger Mike, at 12/05/2005 04:54:00 AM  

  • Sounds great...Now I am wishing there was a Harvest Cleveland!

    It's almost like Boston - It's on the coast, it's got an American League baseball team, Lebron James, a great FREE art museum, one of the best symphonies in the world, and the largest number of live theater venues of any US city outside of New York.

    We have an ethnically diverse population, hundreds of great restaurants and perhaps one of the most affordable housing markets in the country.

    Will anybody hear the call and come to Cleveland?

    By Blogger J A Pierpont, at 12/05/2005 05:14:00 AM  

  • I applaud and pray for these young couples heeding God's call. Not to stir the pot - but has anyone else noticed the common thread among these plants? Young, spirit-filled couples/individuals with a deep yearning to know God more deeply and spread His kingdom - and (apparently)to stay away from the "mainstream" church of Christ as much as possible? Exciting - yet sad in a way I suppose. There is better money in old religion I'm sure, but I often wonder if you find Jesus there.

    By Blogger KentF, at 12/05/2005 05:44:00 AM  

  • Wonderful and Praise God for your hearts. I am here in Portland and have been visiting with Kip McKean the former Boston Movement leader. Since the International Churches began working on the East Coast, we have put that area on the back burner. Now I see more than ever that the East Coast needs to be targeted.

    Let us know how things are developing.

    Ron Clark, Portland

    By Blogger KMiV, at 12/05/2005 07:19:00 AM  

  • Thanks for all the encouraging words, folks, especially you, Quile - you big, beautiful man. I hope things are well for you in Trophy Club. (we never got that cup of "fourbucks", did we?)

    Josh, drop me an e-mail sometime (my address is in my blog profile). I'd love to chat about your church planting in Arizona.

    Just to clarify a minor point brought up earlier, we certainly are not "trying to stay away from mainstream Churches of Christ as much as possible." Instead, we are simply being obedient to what we hear God telling us to do in His kingdom, which is not filling positions on a paid staff. God is using and will use many, many more women and men in established Churches of Christ to announce his reign, but we are not two of them.

    Instead, we have been called to join a movement -- a "revolution", as Paul mentioned above -- of people who believe many new churches must be planted that have as their main objective the bringing to faith of lost people. These churches will (and do) look very different than many of the existing churches -- many of them are not bound by traditional structures (both external and internal), are not formally affiliated with any denomination (or "sect", in our case), and are filled primarily with not-yet-Christians or folks who have tried and left traditional churches in the past. This is not an indictment of anyone or any church, it is just the facts about whom the new "non-traditional" churches are being planted for.

    For the record, I grew up in Churches of Christ, and my wife did not. Most of those in our network of friends and family are affiliated with the Stone-Campbell Movement, and a few are not. I am grateful for the heritage of which I am a part, but my wife (quite honestly) does not have as much allegiance to it. But -- despite all that -- we value many of the tenets of Restoration Christianity, and the churches we plant will as well.

    Sorry this is so long...thanks for the comments and questions. I'd love to hear more.

    By Blogger Steve Jr., at 12/05/2005 11:44:00 AM  

  • Steve - thanks for your clarification and my "stay away from...as much as possible" and "sad" were a poor choice of words. I will be praying for your efforts as New England has woefully few workers - regardless of methodology. My observation is these plants, also occurring in a similar method in New York and New Jersey (MetroSoul) are being fruitful and are not reflective of plants from previous generations.

    By Blogger KentF, at 12/05/2005 12:06:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Steve Jr., at 12/05/2005 12:17:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Steve Jr., at 12/05/2005 12:20:00 PM  

  • Thanks, KentF. Incidentally, we are taking thorough notes on the successes and failures of the Bronx Fellowship and MetroSoul, as both movements are doing similar things to what we want to do. Thanks for mentioning them -- they are friends of ours, and we expect to work closely with them.

    Kmiv, I never addressed your comment. That is great that you are in contact with Mr. McKean. His and others' fervor and passion for seeing disciples made in the Northeast cannot go without recognition. We believe God has his eye on Boston once again at this specific time, and we are ready to join him there.

    By Blogger Steve Jr., at 12/05/2005 12:21:00 PM  

  • Steve,
    I'm so proud to call you and Chrissy my friends. :) Many blessings and much love,
    Mel

    By Blogger Melanie Knox, at 12/05/2005 12:52:00 PM  

  • Steve,
    The few conversations that we have had have been full of grace and salt. Your passion for Jesus is evident. I look forward to hearing the stories of faith that will come from you. Blessings in the name of Jesus.

    By Blogger Josh Ross, at 12/05/2005 01:40:00 PM  

  • Hey Mike, I responding to your request about what my wife and I are doing in the southwest. It's pretty much the same that Steve & Chrissy are doing.
    Our church is two years old and is just north of Phoenix, AZ. It was planted by a preacher from Nashville, TN...Tom Riley. The goal of our church is to be highly ministry driven and to make an impact in our community. We are doing a good job at reaching the "unchurched" but are also gaining new members from other churches. Mostly churches of Christ but suprisingly a large number are coming from Catholic backgrounds.
    My wife and I have been here since May of 2005. We have been interested in church planting since the time we met. During college we spent every spring break going to Portland, OR helping new churches out up there. One of my best friends is now a planting churches there now.
    I suppose the best way to paint a word picture of how our church is working or accomplishing our goals is, we live out the great comission as we go every single day. Arizona is a very large mission field...most here would rather take a walk on Sunday than sit in a cold and irrelvant church. So our members are encouraged to flesh out the great comission as they walk their neighborhood streets, go to work, work out, coach their childs soccer team, etc.
    I hope this is enough information for now...If it sounds loopy it's because I was in the ER last night with a kidney stone, sorry if it doesn't sound clear. For more info. you can check out my blog: www.joshyboy81.blogspot.com I usually update every couple of days.

    By Blogger Josh, at 12/05/2005 10:17:00 PM  

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