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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Q&A with Darien

In an effort to help out my buddy Micah and his class at Liberty U, I answered the following questions for him. I share it with you to give you some insight into what I believe about our church and community. Darien

Re: Interview For Class

Darien, here are the basic questions. If you could maybe look over them and answer some or all and send them back I could then call you later to probe into some more discussion based on your answers. Let me know if this works for you. Here are the questions:

Location/Affiliation/Size/Demographic: Summerville, SC/Nondenominational & Willow Creek Association/90 members with 80 in attendance a week/mostly white

Church culture: southern, mixed with about 50% southern baptist and 50% other; mostly churched; more adventuresome than the average congregation as we are a portable church

Mission Statement/Purpose Statement: Love God. Love people.

Uniqueness from other churches in area/region: Portable church; nondenominational (only 6 in the paper); led by a plurality of elders; a church of small groups not just with small groups

Primary calling of the church: make life-changing disciples

Social Justice as related to worship and ministry? Not much at the moment. Just beginning to see our neglect in this area.

Style and philosophy of ministry: influenced by purpose-driven, missional movements; we like to empower people to serve God as he shaped them to; driven by mission to love God and people in all that we do

Style and philosophy of worship: freedom in Christ; desire to use creativity along with God's word to facilitating meeting with God every week; should result in life-changing lifestyles

How do you plan on using your church and church ministry to fulfill the Great Commission?
By living the life Jesus called us to live. That is by making disciples that make disciples. It's loving God so much that you can't help but reach out and love people around the corner and around the world.

What are you doing to impact the community? When a single mother (and pregnant) called and asked us to buy her a refrigerator we didn't stop there. We took 18 people to her trailer (a dump, more like) and painted, re-carpeted, gave her a bed, cleaned off her porch, cleaned her yard, planted grass, and replaced her sink and cabinetry. We bought her food and supplies, gave her a crib and changing table and lots of encouragement. She is now attending our church and a home group regularly. We have since met one sister who visited our church and had lunch with another sister.

We helped another mother and her family get through a couple of months rent. We have given her rides to church and encouraged her to connect.

We have a small group geared toward mothers of preschoolers that's really met a need.

We are starting to work through Habitat for Humanity.

We are planning a local mission trip for our youth for a week this summer.

How are you using technology? We have a good website, we email out our .pdf newsletter weekly, we are using facebook to communicate with our youth and our praise band, we have a pastors blog (here) and Curacao blog, we podcast our messages, we now have online giving, and we rely heavily on email. We also use an online calendar.

What is your plan to make disciples? Our plan is to leverage relationships to disciple people to disciple people. We believe Disciples are made when you take God's word + God's spirit + relationships with God's people in close proximity and high frequency. Home Groups are a #1 strategy to do that.

How do you measure success? We get some idea from numbers but that only tells you so much. We also look at their lifestyle and habits. This is evaluated by the group leader. We also are implementing tools that allow the individual to self-assess their progress. This is ultimately the best way. It puts the responsibility of spiritual growth back on the individual where it belongs. See www.revealnow.com.

What is the role of the children's ministry within the church vision?
1. To equip, empower and encourage parents to take the lead in their children's spiritual development and 2. To lead our children into life-change in an age appropriate venues that supports our parents efforts.

What do you see as the future of your youth culture? Youth are looking for authentic relationships that flesh out what we preach and teach. We seek to build a weekly event that incorporates relationships and God's word. That means large group teaching time, music that teaches them about God and how to worship him, and small groups where they can ask questions and wrestle with the implications of the message they just heard. Finally, we must give them outlets to be today's church--not just tomorrows.

Do you have house churches or home groups? Yes, see above under disciple making

What are the strongholds in the community? Religion; legalism; lukewarm 'Christians'

What kind of value does worship have in the mission of the church? Genuine corporate worship can have an huge impact on the guest who finds themselves in your service. However, in Piper's words, missions exists because worship doesn't. So I see worship in the 24/7 sense as being the most effective or having the most opportunity. (See Heb 13:15-16 where it talks about worship with your mouth and your life.) This is Rom 12:1 worship.

What role do the arts play in your church? Not nearly enough due to time and expertise. Music is about all we use currently. We'd like to use more drama, video, art, crafts and dance.

What are your greatest challenges? Empowering leaders to use their talents and gifts, moving people to a deeper commitment to Christ, and overcoming the churched, older generational paradigms.

What things are keeping you from being successful? My personal walk-not being totally sold-out all the time. Not praying, fasting and trusting like I could. Settling for the gifts and missing out on the Giver of the gifts. I could use a gifted worship/youth leader too!

What specific things are you doing to create in your people a biblical understanding? Teaching and preaching God's word in service and home groups. Regularly encouraging time alone with God in our people. Challenging our people to being doers of the word and not hearers only.

Darien Gabriel
Pastor