A new church to start Easter

Rev. Will Stern leads the congregation in song.

Where do churches come from? Most of us drive past church buildings every day and never stop to think about where they come from. In reality, every local church was once new.  In church circles, the process of starting a new congregation is called “church planting.” Like the metaphor implies, churches begin with a small seed of people who gather for worship and fellowship but then gradually grow into a mature community.

Many people assume that church plants begin by constructing a building. After all, in English, the word “church” usually refers to a building. Can you have a church without a building? Isn’t that like having a bank without a bank or a store without a store? Actually, most new churches don’t begin with a building but with a community. The Bible never uses the word “church” to refer to a building; the word always refers to a community of people who are baptized into fellowship with God the Father, through Jesus Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit. You can have a church without a building, but you can’t have a church without a community. European cities are filled with empty church buildings, devoid of communities to fill them. These structures are churches in the same way a corpse is a person—not at all. For this reason, most church plants don’t begin with a building. Instead, a core group of people gathers for Bible study and vision-casting in a home. Then they leave home and begin renting a community space, such as an arts center, school, movie theater, or storefront. Finally, when they can afford it and the time is right, they construct a building.

Following this pattern, a new church plant is coming to this area Easter, April 1, at 10:30 a.m.  The seed came from local Presbyterian churches in our region who sent out people to help launch Hope Presbyterian Church (PCA).  In addition to numerous events and projects, the Hope community hosted monthly preview worship services at the Darlington Arts Center in Garnet Valley. Now they are ready to grow up and leave home by beginning weekly services.  For the time being, they’ll meet at the Darlington Arts Center but are in no hurry to build a building. They want to focus on their central mission, which is being a community where anyone can explore the hope of Christianity and followers of Christ can be equipped to share their hope in every sphere of life.

As the pastor and church planter of Hope Presbyterian Church, I want personally to invite you to our first service this Easter.  Everyone is welcome! Learn more at ExploreHopeChurch.org.

We hope you’ll join us. Rev. William C. Stern.

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