How we replanted and refocused to be more on-mission (part 3)

As we took on the task of re-imagining church in Homestead, FL, we looked around:

  • at how other churches were positioning themselves,
  • to see who was being ignored,
  • at demographic trends,
  • at emerging population centers in our community, and
  • at who we were.

Here’s what we found:

THE POSITIONS OF OTHER CHURCHES IN OUR COMMUNITY


While there were exceptions, most churches were culturally specific, traditional, land locked, fighting rapidly rising insurance costs, had dwindling and aging adherents, and were incredibly predictable.

WHO WAS BEING IGNORED

Miami loses more 18-29 year olds than almost any other city to relocation. The reason is in large part to the discrepancy between the high cost of living and the low amounts of disposable income (probably a result of our high dependency on service industry). As a result, it is almost not feasible for churches to intentionally reach out to this demographic.

But, since the Mosaics and the Busters were MIA from our churches and since I am a Baby Buster myself, this would be the focus of our ministry reach.

DEMOGRAPHIC TRENDS

Homestead was also experiencing a bit of a transformation. Miami suburbs like Kendall were becoming unaffordable and incredibly congested. Developers began looking to Homestead for new housing construction and a boom began. The demographic began to change rapidly as professionals began to move in and Homestead become more of a commutter town. Another significant note is that prior to this shift, many of the Hispanics and Caribbeans were first generation Americans. But, as the population swelled, our demographic changed and our population became more Americanized, even as it exploded with diversity.

EMERGING POPULATION CENTERS

Our church building was located at the center of the city, west of US-1 in an area now referred to as “old Homestead.” On the west side of the city, new growth was taking place. The housing construction outside of the urban boundary divide was low density and required houses to be on 1, 5, or 10 acre plots. On the east side of US-1 and especially east of the Florida Turnpike, land was being cleared for high density housing with developments.

A major population boom was taking place, eventually placing Homestead as the fastest growing city in the USA for cities with over 20,000 people in 2007 (see video report here).

WHO WE WERE

At the time, I was 30 years old (now 34), quite a bit younger and different from our original 35 people. I had been struggling with how to do church and was dealing with authority issues which plague my generation. I loved my family and didn’t want anything we did in ministry to negatively impact them. I wanted to empty myself into the ministry. But, I didn’t want to be bled dry and have my personal life snuffed out by people who looked to me to do professional ministry for them.

I also was sure I needed to be myself, talk like myself, lead out of my own experiences, and be honest about who I was. I had a decent amount of experience in the field of communications and marketing. Still I had a lot to learn about how that translated to church. Also, because I was 30, I didn’t have all the answers. And, even if I did, a good number of people that I was beginning with wouldn’t think so because of my age.

INTO THE TRANSITION AND RELAUNCH

With this knowledge in hand, we began dreaming, planning and discussing the actual changes (some incredibly significant) with a handful of people that I knew would be open to just about anything and who also possessed leadership chips in the church. I loved the rest of the people and avoided talking about those changes until we had our feet under us and permission to move forward.

(to be continued…next: rebranding, relaunch, and relocation)

also, read part 1 and part 2 of this series.

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2 Responses

  1. Trav,

    With your permission, I may use some of this for my M.Div thesis. Part of my project will be interviewing church planters and you were already on the list to contact.

    It will be a while before I’m at that point, but I wanted to give you a heads up.

  2. Great stuff, Pete. I’m sure there are a ton of mistakes to learn from. I’ll try to do some bulleted list that lays out mistakes that I wish I could have undone so it doesn’t seem like what we’ve done is some kind of model.

    I’m just sharing the process we went through. I’m doing this mostly because I believe that the greatest opportunities in the COG for church planting lie in plateaued and declining churches (if you can get through the rigors of the transition OR get a blank check to go ahead and pull the plug on a church that has been on life support ) to relaunch.

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