The Ralph Moore Podcast


Wendell Elento: Many Microchurches in Downtown Honolulu - Part 2 of 2

Season 5, Ep. 50444

Wendell's dream was to serve in the U.S. Navy.


After graduating from the naval academy he was on his way to captaining his own ship when Jesus interrupted the process. He felt called to pastor.


Wendell resigned his commission, moving home to Honolulu where he started a landscape business while awaiting further direction from the Lord. A few months later, Aaron Suzuki and I showed up with a vision to plant churches across the state. Wendell joined us.


As a volunteer he instinctively made disciples. We hired him and he was soon our Executive Pastor. Then came the fateful news.


One Sunday evening Wendell informed me that "God is calling me to pastor at Xerox." This was in the aftermath of a shooting that took the lives of five people. I pushed back at losing one of the most valuable players on our team. But Jesus prevailed.


The ministry part went well from the outset. Sales did not. In the midst of the struggle the Lord showed him the way toward planting tens of

microchurches in the business and political communities.


This is an inspiring and educational story from a humble man. It is a little different as we recorded it in a members only webinar for the

Equippers Lab. You'll hear pastors asking questions which probably makes this richer than if it were a straight interview.

More Episodes


Sergio Maul: Church in a Chick-fil-A (breaking boundaries, not wineskins)

Season 5, Ep. 50509
Sergio Maul and I met in a recent Exponential Learning Community in New York City.  His fascinating story about planting a church in Chick-fil-A captured everyone’s attention. Digging deeper, it carries serious implications for those desiring to take the church to where people live. Just 25 years old, Sergio brings hope to old folks hoping the gospel doesn’t dry up in our generation.  Coming to a full relationship with Jesus around age 20, Sergio soon found himself serving in a youth ministry in a large Methodist church in Lubbock, Texas. It was even more exciting to learn that the experience at Chick-fil-A ministry probably got him promoted to Pastor of Evangelism and Young Adults in a congregation many would write off as too steeped in tradition to try new things. This story also speaks of the church leadership as it does of God working through Sergio. The vision and ministry are surprisingly simple.  Sergio and two friends began frequenting a local restaurant on the same evening each week. They sat near the restrooms to be near the most foot traffic. The table boasted a small sign, “Open Dinner Discussions: Join us, and we’ll buy your first meal.” They also showed an open Bible so people wouldn’t feel duped into joining the tiny group. Discussions were simple and didn’t press the Bible or theology. They often use a conversation-sparking card game to get the talk rolling. They trust that the most important things in anyone’s life eventually come around to a need for the security and guidance only God offers.  Numerous people have come to faith. Not all have shown up in the parent church, but that’s not the goal. Bringing the church to the people is. You’ll find hope and fresh ideas in this podcast.  If you want to follow up with Sergio, contact him at or search Sergio R. Maul on social media. If you enjoy the podcast, you'll want to catch the other tools and insights at

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 or by emailing me via the contact form at (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