DETROIT, MI – Storytellers Church recently celebrated their 2nd anniversary. Along with the celebration they baptized eleven new believers. On Mother’s Day, May 8, they moved their Sunday worship service out of its original meeting location in Macomb into a new facility that they will have use of seven days a week. The new site is in Chesterfield, the church’s target community. They have also raised $20,000 of support with a matching gift from a partner in Florida for the build-out of their new worship space. In addition, starting in September, Lead Pastor Bryan Ball says they will be launching a second service time.
The name Storytellers really drives everything the church does. The name is their heart and is a call to evangelism, working to raise people up to share their story in their daily setting (work, school, family, etc) of what God is doing in their life. Ball says, “They may think their story is insignificant, but the church continuously tells their people to trust God to do the impossible with the insignificant.” While it may not sound like the best church growth strategy, Storytellers always tells its people to focus on this FIRST before inviting someone to church. They want to see people become comfortable with talking about Jesus in everyday life instead of focusing on getting them to church to hear the pastor talk about Jesus. In two and half years, the church has grown from the initial core of 4 people to averaging 120 on Sunday mornings. They average roughly 40 in weekly group attendance, and have baptized 34 people and dedicated 17 children.
Chesterfield is home to 47,000 people with an average age of 38, and an average household income of $65,000. It is 92% Caucasian with a major portion claiming Catholicism as their "religion." Storytellers is a very solid representation of their community in every way. They have been called a blue collar church. They sought to create a church that would feel inviting to the life-long churched, the un-churched, the de-churched and everyone in between. Most of their people at one point in their lives have had some exposure to church. God has continuously used this church to show people the difference between going to church and pursuing Jesus. Pastor Bryan shared, “We have a lot of people who come in with some type of basic understanding, but in time, they have an "ah-ha" moment while at the church, and a relationship with Jesus begins.” “I love the dynamics and the makeup of our church. I love when people say they get excited to come here on Sunday's.”
The Gathering in Windsor, ON celebrated its 2nd birthday in May with more than 380 in attendance and 4 people baptized. At the birthday, The Gathering announced its support for a new church plant in Sarnia, ON, with Cecil and Jayne Cogswell and Warren and Sharon Hessling leading the way. Recently, they also have identified the need to start a new work in Amhurstburg, ON. Wade Hurst has been identified as a potential planter to lead this effort.
The Gathering is located in a renovated warehouse in south Windsor which is the southernmost city in Canada. It is located directly across the river from Detroit, Windsor is part of the Send Detroit vision. The city is one of Canada's major automobile manufacturing centers and is home to the headquarters of FCA Canada. Automotive facilities include the FCA Canada minivan assembly plant, two Ford Motor Company engine plants, and several tool and die and automotive parts manufacturers.
The Gathering, a two year old church planting other churches is remarkable. From its inception, the church has had a heart to become part of a church planting / multiplication movement. Lead pastor, Garth Leno says, “We believe that nothing else will have the impact of dynamic, extensive church planting. One of the best ways to increase the number of Christians in a town is to increase the number of churches.”
Church leaders believe church planting helps an existing church the best when the new congregation is voluntarily 'birthed' by an older 'mother' congregation. Pastor Leno says, “Our attitude to new church development is a test of whether our mindset is geared to our own institutional turf, or to the overall health and prosperity of the kingdom of God in the city. We also believe that if we don’t birth one or two new churches within the first 5 years of our existence, we will lose the zeal to do so, and it may never happen!”
Southeast Michigan Flood Recovery - The SEND Relief Flood Recovery Unit at Scholfield Elementary School in Warren has met the needs of families affected by the flood of August 2014. This spring saw hundreds of collegiate students come from all over the country to help clean and rebuild homes. The prayer is that many of these students gained a connection to Detroit and that the Lord would lead them to return as church planters. The efforts of the recovery unit is coming to an end. They will no longer be accepting new teams for the rebuild effort. It’s last team work day is July 23 and will be closing operations August 31. The Flood Recovery Unit helped clean out 464 homes, has helped to rebuild 30 homes and has given three church planters a great platform for the gospel to be continually shared.