Summer Road Trip brings General Board of Discipleship through Texas
A church planting “documentary” of sorts resulted when representatives of the Summer Road Trip Initiative pulled up to seven of TAC’s new church starts this August -- to glean insight and share successes via social media and video.
Instagram, Facebook and Twitter along with planes, trains and automobiles were instrumental in documenting a summer study that put the national spotlight on “new” churches. Dubbed an adventure of modern-day circuit riders in the Wesleyan tradition, the Summer Road Trip was organized by New Church Starts (Path 1), a division of the General Board of Discipleship (GBOD). According to “Texas tour guides” Robert Johnson and Bob Crossman, the purpose of the Path 1 Road trip was to connect with new churches and faith communities to celebrate what works, learn what doesn't and dream of what could be. Amazingly, in a matter of weeks, the teams visited over 680 churches within all five U.S. jurisdictions. Organizers feel the initiative strengthened relationships between church planters and developers, tightened connections with Path 1, and gathered helpful data on handling challenges and opportunities.
On Tour in Texas
Rev. Robert Johnson, planting pastor of New World UMC in Houston, joined Candace Lewis, Executive Director of Path 1 of the General Board of Discipleship, to serve on the Summer Road Trip Initiative Team “to visit new churches in our denomination to document how we're doing in the work of planting new churches,” he explains. “Candace thought I might be helpful to the team because of my work as a church planter and my experience as senior associate pastor at a mega-church that has mothered a new church.”
New church starts in the Texas Conference referenced in the data include:
· Christway UMC in Friendswood, pastored by Artie Cadar
· The Commons in Katy, pastored by Gary White
· Woodserve UMC in Fulshear, pastored by Nolan Donald
· Hope Community UMC in Pasadena, pastored by Jack Womack
· Watershed UMC in League City, pastored by Matt Neely
· Covenant UMC in The Woodlands, pastored by Jason Burnham
· Grace Crossing UMC in Longview, pastored by John Whitehurst
“I was really encouraged by Path 1's visit. We were able to discuss particular successes and review the path to our current position. This conversation was insightful to me, as I was able to put a kind of formula to our path. Bob named our type of church start an “Elijah – Elisha” new church start, which was not only encouraging but clearly demonstrates in a just a few words the path we were able to follow. It was a joy to host them and to enjoy the connection of folk that have planted and are planting new churches,” says Rev. Jack Womack.
Adds Robert, “I think that this initiative will benefit the general church by giving us real, practical, usable data about what works - and what doesn't work - in planting new churches. For our conference, specifically, I think we'll see from the data that our new church starts: 1) are doing better, or as well, as new church starts in any other conference; 2) need to be given more time to develop and grow, and 3) need to be celebrated, more, for the excellent work they are doing!”
He believes new churches prosper when they have a highly committed mother church, are planted by teams or groups of close friends, and when the “who” matters more than where, how or the amount of funding. “This Road Trip will also help the UMC and Path1 develop a clearer profile of the kind of leader who tends to succeed in church planting,” he says.
Review videos of some of the Texas church interviews: