A core commitment of City Church is church-planting. Church-planting refers to the work of starting new churches in the Richmond area and beyond. As long as there have been Christians, there have been church plants. In the Bible the book of Acts records the work of early Christians traveling throughout the known world and starting new churches (often in people’s homes) that met to worship Jesus Christ and make Him known. Church planting is part of City Church’s DNA. Just a few years ago City Church itself was a church plant. Begun as an afternoon worship service in the fall of 2006, the twenty-five early attenders at City Church soon identified as a church plant and hired Erik Bonkovsky, as the organizing pastor. During those first few years of its existence, City Church was dependent on other area churches for guidance, for support, and for resources.
Why church plant?
There are many reason it makes sense for a church to be involved in church planting: theological, practical, and missiological.
First, God is a sending God. At the end of the gospel of John, the resurrected Jesus says to His followers: “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21). The shape of our ministry in the world follows the pattern set by God the Father, who sent His Son into a world broken by sin. We, therefore, continue to send people out--some for the expressed purpose of starting new churches.
Second, repeated studies have demonstrated that new churches are good for people who don’t go to church. New churches (those less than ten years old) attract most of their attendees from outside of existing congregations while established churches (those more than ten years old) attract most of their attendees from existing congregations.
Third, church-planting connects established churches to mission in the world, and helps keep them outward-focused rather than consumed solely with parochial concerns. Church-planting is good for the Kingdom of God. It reminds us that God’s mission in the world includes City Church, but is much bigger than City Church. By giving our prayers, our resources, and our people to the work of church planting we connect with God’s Kingdom work.
City Church and Church Planting
Here are a few of the specific ways that City Church is giving its prayers, resources, and people to the church planting.
Northside Church of Richmond The Northside Church, pastored by Matt Lorish, is now in its third year of worship. City Church has held combined worship services with the Northside Church in the past. It is a growing congregation with a special focus on the neighborhoods of Richmond’s Northside. The church has a growing multi-cultural ministry and also has initiated an Urban Fellows program that brings recent college graduates to the city to work and worship and live together for God.
New church planter, Leon Brown For the past eighteen months, Leon has served as a pastor at New City Fellowship in Fredericksburg and is now being sent out by that church to establish a gospel-centered, multi-cultural work in Richmond’s Southside. Leon has just initiated the hard work of developing a core group that will soon launch a church meant to reflect the diversity (economic, racial, etc.) of the community.
Davises with World Harvest Mission in Prague Phil and Shana Davis (along with there three kids) serve a church plant in Prague, Czech Republic. City Church has supported them in prayer and with finances for several years. This summer a team from City Church will travel to Prague for a week to offer ‘in-the-flesh’ encouragement and join with their work.
These examples only scratch the surface of City Church’s long-term commitment to church planting in Richmond and beyond. We will continue to pray for the Lord’s guidance, seeking to discern when City Church might take a lead role in planting a new church. We will also continue to cultivate our strong partnerships with other gospel-centered churches in Richmond that share our vision for new churches.
Whatever the specifics, we remain convinced of the abundant grace and provision of God and want to see His abundance catalyze our community to give generously to be a blessing to others.