Shareholders Helping 'Seedling' Churches Grow Stronger

Date Posted: 1/24/2013

Pastor Keith Tilley knows firsthand that church can happen anywhere! He has witnessed the truth behind Matthew 28: 20, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”


“God is doing something unique in our little town of Nacogdoches,” says Pastor Tilley, the missional strategist behind the innovative Gospel Outpost Network of home churches in east Texas. With the help of funding provided by shareholders who have donated through TAC’s From the Ground Up, he has been able to shepherd multi-generational home-based “House of Prayer” worship groups that are facilitating significant spiritual growth that is leading to membership growth.


“In our first year, we were privileged to host eight professions of faith baptisms, and form a second House of Prayer group that brings our cumulative attendance average to 40-60 a week,” notes Pastor Tilley. This new way to “be the church” in the community involves sharing a meal in a home, sharing Holy Communion, prayer and life issues. The conference mission of making disciples for the transformation of the world is a reality for these groups that equip, encourage and send out. As he explains, “I am now seeing discipleship happen in a more profound way among the young and old through deep, abiding relationships in smaller groups where real community happens. We try to simplify life and magnify relationships as we connect with ever-increasing numbers of un-churched and de-churched folks in our neighborhoods.”


Deb Tilley, co-host of the Wednesday night group, adds, “Since being a part of this worship style, I’ve had an explosion in my faith journey because the discussions are so rich. I feel I am really beginning to be a disciple, but what really excites me is how many children have changed radically – they have grown more in their prayer life, willingness to share, scripture reading and fellowship over the last few months than they have in their whole life!”


Other House of Prayer members have shared their experiences:

·         Diana Stanford: I had become complacent in congregational worship but church at the House of Prayer setting has changed the fabric of my family. In this environment, my children are my equals as they express what the Lord has spoken to them and ask questions that adults have never asked. They are laying hands on people and praying – which happened nowhere in traditional church settings.

·         Tocolla (HS sophomore baptized in December): I have known Jesus loves me, but tonight during worship..I fell in love with Jesus!”


CLOSE UP: Abiding Faith UMC

Thanks to the generous support of the From the Ground Up ministry, pastors like Pastor Deborah Vaughn can be a part of a new church start such as Abiding Faith in the Houston Heights area. “One of the many blessings of church planting is learning how to serve the new mission field,” she says. “During Advent, we were able to work with our community partners to identify families needing care packages. As a new church start, we were able to provide 30 families, including 125 children, with turkey and trimmings last month, and we delivered them to demonstrate God’s abundant love for us that we gladly share.”


Watch this!

The House of Blessings is the name of another From the Ground Up success story. This Hispanic congregation, part of FUMC Bryan, was started three years ago by Pastor J. Augusto Sarria-Anaya from Colombia, where he was trained as a medical doctor as well as an ordained Methodist minister. The congregation has an average attendance of 36 in worship and about 70 who worship weekly in homes. The church is happy to share a few minutes of the worship service via this video clip. The congregation is establishing ESL and GED training programs as well as citizen classes and a free medical clinic. Sarria and wife Fany are thankful to shareholders giving From the Ground Up donations that have significantly helped offset their living expenses.


Call to Action February 10

February 10 is From the Ground Up re-launch Sunday across the conference – and ideal time for existing and prospective “shareholders” to celebrate that their investment is funding these types of eternal rewards. For each $100 given, you can purchase a share in this kingdom work and help TAC meet the goal of planting 100 new churches by 2016 across the conference. For more information see the brochure (pdf). Call or email Lynn Davis to learn more: or 713-521-9383.