Our Journey to Relaunch
By Jay Coleman
Every church has a different journey, a unique story, as to how God started their work and increased their effectiveness. Our journey did not start out like many church plants with the idea of a big launch and immediate growth. Our story begins with our obedience to move our young family to Baton Rouge to take the lead of an existing church made up of about 35 older people who loved their church just how it was. The church that God had placed in our hearts was a church that was growing with people whose lives had been transformed by the life-giving power of God. We knew taking this church would be a challenge, but we knew that this was what God had for us. When we took this small congregation, there were lots of great churches around us, but none that had the flavor as the church that was in our hearts. God gave us the picture of what He wanted us to do.
I began to build relationships with other pastors that were having the results that I wanted. I saw what they were doing and learned from their experiences. I shared with them where I was at and where I wanted to be. I talked with other church planters and got connected with a church planting organization, the Association of Related Churches. There were two ARC pastors that encouraged me to do a relaunch, to use our current congregation to reintroduce our church to the community as a group that was relevant to meeting their needs. One of those influences was Pastor Dino Rizzo of Healing Place Church, who encouraged me to pursue what God was putting in my heart. The other was Pastor Scott Hornsby of Fellowship Church, who was the person I like to say kicked me in the seat of the pants to get it rolling. He really challenged me to dream big.
I knew that if I wanted to get the results that other pastors were having, our church was going to have to change. I knew the Lord was leading us to relocate to Central, a community outside of Baton Rouge. I had the picture; now I needed to share that picture with our leaders and key families. The board and I were willing to accept that not everyone would like the idea of change. We were willing to lose some families in order to have what God wanted us to have. I had been faithful to care for the original people that God had sent us to. I sat down family and shared my heart with them. There were a few naysayers that checked out, but most everyone liked the concept and were supportive of the vision.
I knew that a relaunch was going to require change- change that would not happen quickly. We were careful not to be in a rush, but to take time to build trust with our key people. It took time to transfer vision into their hearts. It took time to develop a team of leaders around me that shared my heart. It took us six years to relaunch, to bring about the change necessary to accomplish the vision that God Gave us. At that time I didn't know many pastors who had gone through are launch, so we acted like we were a new church plant and our congregation of120 people became our launch team.
To be a life-giving church, we have to be continually changing to stay relevant and to move with what God is doing. We changed our location, our church name,and our look. We began to reach out to the community through simple acts of service. Through advertising we let people know that we were new in Central and we wanted them to join us. During the transition, my emotions as a leader went from extreme nervousness to overwhelming joy. My thoughts went from, “Holy Cow, I have just destroyed the church” to “God, You are completely amazing and You blow my mind.” If you are thinking of relaunching your church, my advice would be to pray, pray, pray, and when you are sure that you have heard from God, pray some more! Our change took place as we depended on the Lord to do what He put in our hearts to do.We relaunched in May 2008. It has been just over a year, and Journey Church has grown to an average of 800 people. It has been exciting to experience God Moving through salvations and seeing families healed. It is good to see what God can do through a church that is willing to accept a new concept in order to reach more people.
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