BYRON -- Some churches are new, some old, and some are just being born.
Central Point Chapel is just being born.
Just five or six of us started meeting around my kitchen table in February to make plans, said Myke Harbuck, church planter and pastor at Central Point. We outgrew my kitchen and moved to my living room. By late spring, we started Sunday evening services with about 30 or 40 people at the old elementary school near City Hall and began searching for a permanent place.
Harbuck said the original group was mainly friends, then others joined through Facebook contacts and word-of-mouth.
Two weeks ago, Central Point started remodeling a building on Industrial Way off James Williams Industrial Road, which runs between White Road and Dunbar Road east of Interstate 75.
The group started evening meetings there Sunday.
Harbuck said the gatherings at the school building and now on Industrial Way give the start-up team a chance to worship and grow together as well as to get the kinks out of things like the churchs nursery ministry, sound and visual systems, guest ministry and other elements they want running smoothly when they start Sunday morning services Dec. 1.
Though theyre in preparation mode now, Harbuck said others are welcome to join in.
Why start a new church?
Its a question Harbuck loves to answer.
Its a good question when it seems theres a church on every corner, he said. But actually now there are less than half the number of churches relative to the population than there was 100 years ago. And 75 churches will meet for the final time this Sunday then close their doors since about 4,000 churches die annually. But the big reason to plant is we want to reach people for Christ, and its been proven 80 to 85 percent of all converts in the last 20 years have come from new church starts. New churches are more successful connecting with people.
Among his facts and figures, and Harbuck has plenty, is one showing of the 375,000 churches in U.S., about 325,000 are in decline.
So why not fix the churches in decline?
Harbuck said thats not easy to do nor is it a matter of either/or. He said its a matter of doing both -- and he is doing both.
As well as starting Central Point, Harbuck is pastor of Northside Baptist Church of Centerville, an older church thats working through a process of revitalization. Its with Northsides blessing -- and financial support -- Harbuck is leading the new church start.
We need revitalization, but in Peach and Houston counties alone there are around 122,000 unchurched people, Harbuck said. The answer to reaching them is planting new churches.
Harbuck said five years ago God gave him a desire to start fresh, relevant churches. Since then hes added a masters degree in church planting from Liberty University to his other degrees.
Among things the start-up group decided were important was that it would welcome all but target unreached 20- and 30-somethings; it would feature verse-by-verse teaching through the Bible as inspired by the late Chuck Smith of the Calvary Chapel movement; it would provide a modern worship opportunity; and ministries, such as its nursery, would be first rate.
And there was agreement ministry would flow out of relationships and efforts like members knocking on doors to meet neighbors, doing random acts of blessing like buying people gas and groceries and continually seeking ways to serve their community.
Its not about meeting our goals or using tricks to reach people, Harbuck said. Its just that since Christ cares, we care and we want to show our care. Then we allow God to do his work in peoples lives, doing more than we could ever expect. We focus on loving people and taking time to build relationships. Christ didnt sit teaching in a synagogue for three and half years. He got out on the street with people, met needs, and did it without a holier-than-thou attitude or all the religious trappings.
Seeing Central Point Chapel started isnt Harbucks end goal. He intends Central Point to plant four other churches in the next 10 years that will also plant churches.
Harbuck said he wants to see other Christ-believing churches of all sizes and affiliations planting churches as well and said hes willing to help.
The thing is, its do-able, he said. I dont know everything there is to know, but Im passionate about church planting, and Id be more than happy to share what I know with other groups and pastors. Planting new churches is something the church overall needs to do.
Contact Michael W. Pannell at firstname.lastname@example.org.