Lord Willing: A Snapshot of What the Future Might Be

Monday is for Discussion
(updated August 2017) 

“Intensely Local” — a vision of the future (Dateline October 2025)
(a potential future newspaper article)

Communitas is a cluster of house churches being planted in suburban Charlotte, NC that has a unique approach to the “missional question.” The church has a big vision. They want to be a part of the leading edge of a church planting movement that stretches around the world. But to get to that future their strategy is to be intensely local in focus. If you spend any time around their leadership you will begin to get a flavor of how they both see themselves and how they go about the doing church.

You will hear phrases like:

  • “We are intensely local.”
  • “We really try to be communal in the sense that we love to do life together with our brothers and sisters in Christ.”
  • “We try to take service to our neighbors very seriously.”
  • “We are immersed in our neighborhoods, connected to our neighbors, and invested in our community.”
  • “We are trying to be the church in and for our neighbors and neighborhoods.”
  • “We really believe that when our neighbors see us, side by side serving them and loving one another, they will draw the conclusion that Jesus is among us. We really believe that.”
  • “We see ourselves as chaplains to the neighborhood.”

In the Fall of 2018 Manchester Creek Community Church in Rock Hill, SC began to move in new directions. The cluster of “house churches” called Communitas is the organic extension of Manchester Creek and has grown to about 700 in about 30 “house churches” spread out over the south Charlotte, NC to Rock Hill, SC in just five years. Communitas members are always talking about the rhythm of their lives together.

“We meet together in smaller gatherings to pursue biblical fellowship in a more intimate setting. And then we meet in a large Sunday Gathering where we celebrate the God of the gospel. That’s our rhythm: small gatherings and large gathering; intimacy and transcendence; And it’s our rhythm of life because we believe it’s a biblical way to live life together. It’s a rhythm of glory and joy—joy for us our neighbors and glory for our God,” said Pastor for Church Planting Marty Schoenleber Jr.

More “seasoned” than most church planters, Schoenleber is no stranger to church planting, having mentored and coached over 500 church planters that serve around the world. But he insists that Communitas is not a critique of existing churches.

“Manchester Creek and Communitas are not a critique of more traditional churches that envision ministry in traditional categories of worship service, Sunday School, music programs and youth ministries.” We simply felt that God was calling us to take the gospel out into our neighborhoods in tangible expressions of the Kingdom of God.

We felt that being truly local, truly rooted in our community, we might discover something powerful about God, the gospel and ourselves, and we just might have a greater impact on our neighbors. It’s all about making more disciples of Jesus, not criticizing someone else. To paraphrase Jesus. ‘Old wine skins are good as long as you don’t put new wine in them.'”

If you would like to find out more about what we mean when we say “INTENSELY LOCAL” in our ministry focus, type “intensely local” into the search window at the left side of the blog.

Join the conversation and leave a comment.


11 thoughts on “Lord Willing: A Snapshot of What the Future Might Be

  1. How many House churches are there now in ‘communist’ China, around 2,000,000 maybe- in groups of 15 or less so I am told. Those dang Chinese, always demonstrating something explosive… I really like the formation of Communitas. It seems like this approach to worship&community leads many to more transformative living for others, than does TraditionalChurch. Whichever, toGodbeTheGlory.

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  2. I like the idea of smaller gatherings to pursue biblical fellowship in a more intimate setting. It seems this might be appropriate on two levels. One a more intense gathering for committed disciples and one a more evangelistic gathering that is sensitive to neighbors who just want to be accepted, loved and slowly come to understand what it means to be a disciple. And I like the rhythm of small gathering and large gathering; intimacy and transcendence. I can see a small gathering of neighbors in some cases being multi-denominational to create more unity in the Body of Christ.

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    1. Paul, I agree on the multi-denominational idea. It just makes so much sense for believers on a block to be more connected and to think and pray and act together on behalf of their neighbors and the gospel- independent of their denominational loyalties.

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  3. Looking forward to hearing more about what it means to be “intensely local” and why this would be the first thing on your list of how people from The Sanctuary would talk about themselves.

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    1. Shannon, what is happening on the NJ front? Send me an email or give me a call. Hey on another note, be on the look out for Bed and Breakfast places run by Christians. Pass the info on to me.

      I am going to try to tackle the INTENSELY LOCAL issue all week. Hope you will come back and participate in the conversation. Pass the word.

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  4. Marty–I just resigned from a denominational church that desired to be in-ward focused rather than evangelical. So I started a home Bible study on Wed. evenings. Folks come over after work, we eat a meal, share the Lord’s table, spend time singing our praises and praying to the Lord, then participate in Bible study together. We had 10 the first meeting last week. Now it sounds like another five or six are coming tomorrow, and a family of five in a couple weeks. Our geographic range goes from West Chicago to Yorkville, with several areas of Aurora represented. I’d like to train up people to minister in their neighborhoods, but most are new to Christ.

    I did not intend to start a home church, just a mid-week gathering to sing and pray and dig into His Word. We are looking forward to being unencumbered by committees, traditions, facilities and such, so that we can move freely about our communities where we can best make an impact for Christ. But if this continues to grow and I haven’t even had opportunity to develop leadership…well, I could use some prayer and advice. If you’re able, e-mail me at bill@berevived.org. I trust that the Lord is doing all this.

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  5. Marty,

    Love your thoughts. Really resonate with the bullet points and “quotes.” All of this, with the addition of a “third place” which would couple as a social hub (“missional outpost”) and arts venue during the week and a gathering space on the weekend, is spot on with my original vision when I started The Core back in SW Missouri four years ago. Who knows but that I’ll get another opportunity to experiment with this model of ministry some years down the road.

    Blessings,

    Matt

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  6. I purchased Chip Ingram’s material on anger, Overcoming Emotions that Destroy, so that I could help someone close to me with their anger problem. It turns out that I deal with anger in destructive ways. I perceive that it would be helpful to have someone that would get to know me well enough to pierce through my rationalizations. Perhaps this would be a person who could help me sort through these types of issues in my life. Sitting in the classroom on Sunday morning hasn’t usually met the need. Is there something I can do, as someone who feels like they a more a part of the problem than the solution, to get the help I need while engendering “intensely local”, can I say “intensely personal”?, ministry.

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    1. Ingram’s a good name, very helpful. The discipler often finds that being obedient to make disciples makes the discipler a better disciple. Obedience to God always brings the blessing of God.

      Pray for God to raise up that man, at the same time, don’t wait. The Spirit of God is more than capable of cutting through our rationalizations and delusions. Trust him to give you eyes to see and a heart to apply what he reveals.

      Intensely local vs intensely personal? It depends. If by intensely personal we mean deeply relational and interactive with our neighbors, then yes. But if we mean the personal (and very important and very necessary) work that God is constantly doing in our lives, well, that is a different subject.

      Appreciate your interaction brother.

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