EDITOR'S NOTE: Michael, and his wife Emily, are one of many church planting efforts being supported, in part, by the Frances Brown State Missions Offering. The offering emphasis and Week of Prayer is September 9-16. For more information or resources to promote the offering go to www.bscm.org/smo.
ANN ARBOR, MI – You spend years confirming your calling. You craft your vision, gather a team, and build partnerships. Then it gets real! After you pack up and say your goodbyes, you make the big move. As scary as it may seem, nothing compares to finally being on the ground in your city. While not every planter’s experience is the same, here is a snapshot of our first month at Treasuring Christ Church. In reading this, I pray you know how to better pray for our church plant and church planters throughout our state.
Every move requires time to get settled in and situated to your new home and new city. We have appreciated making our move in the summer because it has given us the space to do this. We were able to finally get unpacked after two weeks and are starting to feel at home. We have also been able to identify where to buy groceries, grab a cup of coffee, and enjoy a family meal. Now, we are eagerly awaiting the five team members who are moving from North Carolina later this month to join us in Ann Arbor.
Learning the City
Over the last four years, we have taken numerous trips to Ann Arbor and developed a good feel for the city. However, the best way to learn a city is to live in it. We have spent a lot of time looking at the community newspaper, Ann Arbor Moms Facebook group, Yelp, blogs, other online sources to get a feel of where people are and make every effort to be in those places. Summer has proven to be a great time for this in Ann Arbor. There have been numerous festivals to enjoy and opportunities to be at parks, pools, and playdates. We continually ask ourselves and others questions like: What do you love about this city? What is difficult about living here? Where are the needs in the community? What is your faith background? Do you go to church? What do you think of Jesus?
Church planting is highly relational. At the top of every church planter’s strategy is building relationships. We have made it our aim to build friendships with evangelism as our ultimate desire, not our ulterior motive. Everywhere we go, we are praying that God would direct us to people that He wants us to love. We linger in conversations as we go about our daily lives, and we see how much we can learn about a person in our first interaction. Then we pray, and we persist. We ask God to make this new acquaintance a friend, and get off our knees to invite that person to hang out again.
We have enjoyed meeting our neighbors, people in our community, and even other newcomers to the city. We have had people in our homes for dinner and gone over to other people’s homes to hang out. As we enjoy these new relationships, we are seeking to declare and display the gospel through our everyday lives.
Do you know any college students attending the University of Michigan this fall? We would love to connect with them and invite them to be a part of helping establish Treasuring Christ Church.
We desire to display through loving our neighbors as Christ has loved us. This means identifying needs in our community. We want to be a church known for serving our city even before we gather for our first service. We will love and serve people longer than they can mistrust us. In order to do this, we have connected with the local Parks and Rec, the Chamber of Commerce, and other non-profits organizations that are seeking to meet real needs in our community.
While a vast majority of fundraising is done before the planter ever moves to their target city, fundraising is an ongoing reality for church planters. In fact, we have found being on the ground in our city has proven helpful for taking the next step with a number of potential supporters—both individuals and local churches. We are seeking to raise an additional $6,000/month through individual donors and supporting churches. Fundraising has ultimately served to remind me of my dependency on God while also positioning me to see the riches of His grace as He meets my needs.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michael is the Lead Pastor of Treasuring Christ Church in Ann Arbor, MI. He gets most excited about enjoying friends and family, good coffee, exploring Ann Arbor, and leading others to delight in, declare, and display the gospel in all of life.