[The following post was written by Tim Douty, one of our original church planting core. It first appeared here.]
My wife and I are church planters.
I’m not sure if I ever imagined I’d say that about us, but I suppose that’s what you call it when you start a new church. A few years ago, we, along with some close friends, felt a nudge or heard a call or sensed something – whatever phenomenon you want to call it. It was a moral imperative for us that could not be ignored. Start this church.
So about six years ago, we started meeting and getting people together around a specific vision. You see, we weren’t just going to start another church in Fresno and Clovis. These two cities that I have called home all my life do not need another church. They are filled with hundreds of great churches. I met my wife in one of these great churches. These churches are reaching people and helping people grow and they are making a difference in our community and around the world. We are not seeking to duplicate them or replace them. These cities need a different kind of church.
We are going after a completely different market.
We are creating a church that un-churched people would love to attend. This is a place where anyone, regardless of their previous experience with church or religion, could come and feel welcome and would find it so captivating and helpful that they would want to come back. It is a place where the life-long Christian like myself and the person who has never cracked open a Bible or knows any of the Christian songs or lingo would feel at home. This is a place where the good news of Jesus is presented without shame or reservation, but where all the clutter of religion is removed to make it clear and practical. This is a place where people who are curious about God, or have questions or doubts, or believe in something greater than themselves but have found traditional churches lacking can come.
We want to reach people that no one else is currently reaching.
We call this place Two Cities Church because we are for these two cities of Fresno and Clovis, as well as the whole Central Valley. We have friends and family members – names and faces of real people – that we want to introduce to Jesus. But these people are not currently attending church or they have had bad church experiences or have simply found organized religion irrelevant. These are who we want.
We want the rejects, the down and outers, the underdogs. We want the imperfect, the have-nots, the ones who don’t have it all together. Because Jesus is for everyone.
So the Church should be for everyone.
This is a daunting task for several reasons. In the traditional church world, most churches are planted by other churches. One church either outgrows its facility or wants to expand their influence so they get a group of people together and they send them. They put together volunteer teams, financial support, and they plant the new church. Well, Two Cities is different.
No one really sent us. We have not received a massive influx of cash or volunteers or attenders from anywhere else. We started from scratch. We started this church from nothing but the vision God has given us and the relationships we have. We are sustained only by the people who give to the church, people who attend and people who don’t attend but believe in the vision. That’s it. It’s a daunting, and at times, a lonely process.
In effect, we have started something from nothing.
But we are in good company.
In Romans 4, the apostle Paul writes about the faith that Abraham had. Even if you’re not religious, odds are you have heard of Abraham before. In the book of Genesis, you can read his story. God makes a covenant with him, an agreement, and he promises that he will make him a great nation and that from his children will come generations of people that will follow the one true God. Sounds great right?
Except Abraham didn’t have any children.
His wife, Sarah, was barren. And by the time God makes this outrageous promise to him, he was old and incapable of fathering any children anyway. In regards to the promise to father a great nation, Abraham had nothing. There were no kids, and there were no fertility doctors or medical procedures to attempt. As far as Abraham was concerned, it was hopeless.
But in Romans 4, Paul writes that Abraham still believed God in spite of what the circumstances told him. Paul says that Abraham believed God even though there was no earthly reason to do so. And because of his faith, God honored Abraham, gave him right standing with God, and honored his promise. Abraham became a great nation, in fact founding what would become the nation of Israel.
In telling this story in his letter to the Romans, Paul makes a startling phrase about God. This is a phrase that I could not gloss over when I read it recently. I had to stop because it was so astounding.
He says that Abraham became the father of many nations because “Abraham believed in the God who brings back the dead to life and who creates new things out of nothing” (v. 17, NLT).
I love that line. It’s almost as if the defining characteristics of God is a.) he brings back the dead to life and b.) he creates new things out of nothing.
After reading this, I immediately thought: that’s us. That’s Two Cities Church. There was nothing, and then, through a vision that God gave us, suddenly there was something. I also immediately thought of people I know who have experienced this amazing characteristic of God’s character in their own lives.
- I have seen God bring dead things back to life.
- I have seen marriages that were dead that God resurrected.
- I have seen futures given new life after it was believed they were gone forever.
- We have seen dead relationships with siblings and friends revived.
- We have seen families created from noting.
- We have seen impossible diagnoses miraculously healed.
- We have seen lives that were dead turned around by the incredible grace of God.
- And we have seen God take nothingness and turn it into something incredible.
We are Two Cities Church, and in these small beginnings, we are praying, waiting, and pressing in. We know that at the same time we are in the exact center of God’s will for us. Because the God we serve is a God who makes something out of nothing, who takes dead things and gives them new life. He did it for me, he’s doing it for many others, and he’s doing it through Two Cities Church.
– Tim Douty
[This article was originally posted at micahfoster.net.]