APRIL 2015 NEWS
JOB OPENING: CHURCH ARCHITECT ELIZABETH WHITWORTH | ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
When I was a kid, I loved building homes. I would make each one as large as possible, using all of the materials at my disposal. Once the structure was up, it would be furnished to the nines. All of the basics were there, plus amenities such as a tropical fish aquarium, a fireplace, and a pool out back.
Each project started with a vision, and then I made choices about what the house would have and what it wouldn’t have. It was all up to me. Every time I ended up with the house I wanted. The only limitation was the number of Legos my brother and I had. (I recently learned that, since 1949, over 560 billion Lego parts have been produced. Imagine the house we could build with those — assuming you could talk me into sharing!)
WE GOT THE CHURCH WE WANTED
These days I’m an architect of another type. In late 2007, a group of us gathered at the home of Ron and Fran Gladden in Vancouver, Washington. We put up the flip chart, got out a marker, and started to make a list of non-negotiables for a new church.
After much time on our knees but before we launched the new project, we designed the church we wanted. We determined the elements we wanted to include as well as features that we didn’t want (among which were petty arguments, nominating committees, cliques, red tape, and hymn books).
We hired a teaching pastor and a worship leader. We decided to direct mail thousands of postcards to promote each message series. We started a tradition of serving free freshly-popped popcorn at each weekend experience. (Some people call Epikos “The Popcorn Church” because we create a fun and relaxed environment.) We chose to emphasize the element of story (reflected in the name Epikos) because we value each person’s story as well as the Big Story of God (AKA the Great Controversy). Perhaps most important, we placed priority on the Next Person who needs to meet God.
Seven years later, our leadership team continues to deliberately shape church. It is all up to us — and the power that God wields on our behalf for the sake of His kingdom.
HOW DO WE GET THE CHURCH WE WANT?
Perhaps you consider some of the decisions we’ve made at Epikos and think, "We never could get away with that at our church. The powers that be would never allow it." You’re probably right — if your church belongs to a parental denomination. As a member of Mission Catalyst, Epikos Church enjoys Goldilocks Freedom: that just-right freedom that lies in a healthy spot along the continuum between chaos and suffocation. In MC, our support office offers training and coaching to — but never control over — local churches. We respect the leaders’ right to lead.
Getting the church we want also depends on a team of leaders — a Pivotal Design team. Churches led by a Lone Ranger pastor are destined to be one, (not so) big, (probably not very) happy family. What’s needed is at least three leaders who have a combination of certain gifts and chemistry with each other. You won’t be surprised to know that the very assembly and continuation of such a team relies heavily on Goldilocks Freedom.
A Pivotal Design team working in the atmosphere of Goldilocks Freedom can shape culture and create the church they want. And, when you bring together three principles — Goldilocks Freedom, Pivotal Design Team, and Book-of-Acts Culture — a church prevails.
WHY IS THIS THE CHURCH WE WANT?
One of the most important decisions that Epikos leadership made was to prioritize the Next Person — representing all of the people in our community who won’t go to heaven unless something changes. The other most important decision was to carry out this mission under the leadership of a Pivotal Design team that is operating in the climate of Goldilocks Freedom and forging a Book-of-Acts Culture. Only then can we remove any barriers to reaching the Next Person. Only then can we maximize our redemptive potential.
AT THE END OF THE DAY, IT’S NOT REALLY ABOUT THE CHURCH WE WANT; IT’S ABOUT THE CHURCH GOD WANTS.
The apostle Peter gives us this perspective: God isn’t late with his promise. … He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change. (2 Peter 3:9)
This is our conviction. This is our calling. If it is yours, as well, we urge you to start the conversation with us to explore the possibilities. And if you are already on the team as a financial supporter, we want to thank you and encourage you that your investment is making an eternal difference.
P.S. We could not do what we do without people like you. We appreciate your financial support. Thank you for helping Mission Catalyst create healthy, unselfish, growing churches! Click here to give.