Word of the Week

Regional Churches

It is a basic idea you'll learn in any church planting or church leadership class: reach out to your immediate community first. Get to know your neighbors. Make friends with people in the area surrounding your church building. And, let this be your mission of folks to reach.

churchI agree with all of these things and say that I attempt to do them. (You can read more about this project of mine, here).

But, I will also add that with a church with as unique of a mission as ours, we must do more. Our mission is not just to the Reston community, it is to all folks in the greater Washington DC area who need us.

This is not a new idea to me or our church. Neighborhood churches are growing to be no longer the norm. I meet folks all the time in the community who say they drive 45-60 minutes to go to church without caring about it. "It seems," they say that "a good church is hard to find these days and when I find one I just don't want to go looking for another one for a long time."

There are countless articles out there on this topic. And here's one example in Indianapolis, IN.

Enter into this scenario the importance of the Internet (the church website needs to be good) and social networking (I mean, who doesn't want to Twitter with their pastor these days?) and email communication for church committee work. Without these things the regional church would not be possible.

It doesn't mean that being a regional church is not without its limitations.

Sunday becomes the all important day in a regional church. You must get in worship, fellowship, teaching, and business all into one day. And such kind of pressure can be too much to live under!

And, often times community building activities like weekend get-togethers or more folks coming to choir practice on Monday nights just isn't possible. It can be a difficult trade off.

But, I think for regional churches (and specifically for Washington Plaza as it is becoming more of a regional church), we have to begin to think intentionally about how this changes our plans for Christian education, worship planning and fellowship.

We've had 13 official new members this year, thus far and only 7 of them live in Reston. We are having folks join us all the time from Silver Spring, Rockville, Arlington and even the District, every week now!

To this I say, let us embrace the fact that our mission to love and serve all people means that we are going to continue to evolve into a regional church. This does not mean we love our Reston neighbors any less, but that we are always open to whoever God brings our way, especially when they are so committed to us that they are willing to drive 45 minutes or more to worship with us on Sunday mornings. Our mission is what drives us and is what gives us a hope and future, not merely our location!