Jason Shepperd/Church Project - Update (Part 2)
Season 5, Ep. 50508
Jason Shepperd left a prevailing model mega-church to plant Church Project 13 years ago.Beginning with 40 people, the group now numbers more than 4,000 showing up on weekends. Much to Jason’s chagrin, the weekend numbers are overwhelming. Overwhelming in that this is a gathering of house churches, not a weekend event. The weekends are designed to serve the house churches where the real stuff happens. The influx of weekend attendees presents problems that take time and effort to overcome by more rapid multiplication.You could say that Church Project is like what I’ve known as Hope Chapel on steroids. We planted churches from a hub of “MiniChurches” that met as a “weekend convention.” They operate similarly but are seeing local numbers that we never did. Our hubs topped at a couple of thousand. We reproduced ourselves often, but I think there is more long-term potential in the future than we knew in the past. These people are among a growing number of visionaries carrying the mission of Jesus to new levels.The problem is that of launching new Church Projects quickly enough to drain off the overload of people showing up on weekends. So far, they’ve reproduced themselves more than 70 times in several countries, including local Church Projects, the nearest of which is just three miles from the original gathering place. Each “project” is a cluster of house churches (they may meet in places other than homes) coming together for celebration and equipping on weekends.Church Project began as an experiment utilizing a simple ecclesiology derived from the book of Acts. The earliest believers mainly met in homes, as would the members of the Church Project. They built an elder body overseeing needs and operations, as exemplified in Paul’s admonition to Titus in the first chapter of that letter. Because the ministry functions in homes, it requires a minimal staff to keep everything afloat. However, the even that team remains mostly hidden. The building used for weekly gatherings sports no identifying sign (in Texas, where megachurches glory in mega-neon). There is no published phone number. And the staff restrain themselves to equipping and enhancing the real pastors—who lead the house churches. They even have a theology of space. While many view church facilities as “sacred spaces,” these folks use space for “sacred purposes.” This frees their buildings, current and those acquired in earlier stages of growth, for the use of other groups—both profitmaking and non-profit. This approach drastically lowers the cost of owning real estate.This description could go on for several pages, but it is sufficient to alert you to a different working model than you’ve met before. This podcast will especially intrigue those hoping to plant clusters of microchurches without breaking wineskins. You can learn more about Jason Shepperd and Church Project at churchproject.org or by emailing me via the contact form at ralphmoore.net (Jason’s info does not appear on the Church Project site).If you enjoy the podcast, you'll want to catch the other tools and insights available at ralphmoore.net.