One of my favorite things about having a newborn child is you don’t just celebrate birthdays once a year. You celebrate birthdays once a month. When a baby is that young, he makes so much progress that you have to celebrate all those milestones once a month—even if it’s just baby steps (pun intended)

It turns out the same applies to planting a new church. Last week marked 1 month of Resilient Church hosting weekly worship services, and truly, what an amazing month it’s been so far! But, just like having a newborn child, it has also presented unique challenges and opportunities for us to keep coveting your prayers. Read on for more!

Weekly Church Services

We have hosted 6 weekends of church services in a row at the time of this writing. If you’ve been a church-goer for awhile, weekly services might not seem like that big of a deal. But for a new church plant, going from a monthly events with small group meetings sandwiched in between to weekly church services is a huge thing to celebrate!

Kind of like when a baby takes his first steps.

We have been averaging around 60 in weekly attendance so far, which is amazing for a new church. When we exclude the number of family and friends from our partner churches who came to support us for launch Sunday, we had somewhere around 120-130 people in attendance. The typical statistic is that a new church plant should aim to average out about 50% of whatever the launch Sunday was. So we are well on track, strictly from a numbers standpoint! Some weeks are a little smaller, others a little bigger. But what we’re really celebrating is we’ve seen about 10 new people every week. Word continues to get out, and we continue to see new faces. Our serving teams are gradually growing, and we get more confident in setting up and tearing down our equipment each week. It’s been a blast getting to see our fledgling church family continue to grow!

The unique challenge in this new season of weekly services, though, is figuring out who our “active attenders” are. We’re kind of in this “getting to know you” stage where new people are checking us out every week to see if we’re a good fit for them. This is all a part of the process. But it can be difficult not knowing who considers themselves regular attenders, and who has already moved on (and it doesn’t help that an average “active attender” only attends church once every 4-6 weeks). So we might not truly know who our church community really is until December or January.

So the prayer request here is for us to best steward everyone who walks through our doors, especially during this “getting to know you” stage of our newest members, and for us to be patient for the Lord to grow this church at his pace!

My New Testament Course

I’ve also had the opportunity to teach New Testament Survey on USD’s campus. My class has 14 students, and it’s been such a fun way to dive deeply into Scripture with them, all while developing a connection with USD as an adjunct professor. Continue to pray for these students, that they grow in their own faith journeys, and for more adjunct teaching opportunities to be made available in the future.

Laundry Buy-Down Event

We got to serve some people in our community by taking 2 hours on a Saturday morning, and offered to pay for people’s laundry (note: we did not offer to do their laundry 😊). Some people politely declined while appreciating the offer, while others were really moved by the act of generosity. Several instances led to some pretty cool conversations. For several, they just couldn’t comprehend that a local church, of all places, would offer to do something like this. This is pretty heart breaking, because all they ever hear are the stories of churches who just bash other people and never do anything to serve others. Generosity, service, and a local church just didn’t seem to fit together in their minds.

I talked for a pretty long time with a girl named Madison. She’s a first year law student at USD. Although she only took 1 quarter of what we offered to give her, she took the opportunity to ask a bunch of questions about God, the church, and Christianity that she has wondered for a long time. I got to share the Gospel with her, and gave her some perspectives on church and our role in society that she, in her words, “had never thought of before.” My prayer is that seeds were planted, and that the Lord will allow our paths to cross again sometime!

Our serving time ended, and we still had about $60 left. So we got $60 worth of quarters, set them out with some make-shift signs that Resilient Church wanted to bless them. We left some invitation cards on the tables if anyone was curious or wanted to learn more. We have no idea who it could’ve blessed, or who took a card. But we’re praying the Lord used it to bless someone’s day, even if in a small way.

Resilient Students Kick Off

Finally, our Resilient Students college ministry had its kick off at the beginning of the month! They had a bonfire for people just to hang out and get to know one another, while sharing about our small group opportunities. We have 36 students who have signed up to be a part of the college ministry, with 19 who are plugged in to small groups. This has been an amazing start to our college ministry, and are excited to see how the Lord continues to move through their small groups and monthly events that they’ll be hosting!

Continue to pray for this new discipleship movement to take wind, for people to learn about Jesus, find a church home, and ultimately experience life transformation during one of the most pivotal seasons in their life.

That’s everything for this month! This Fall is both a season of sheer excitement for what God is doing in us and through us, while simultaneously being shrouded in ministry. There’s so much newness to what we’re doing, and unmarked territory for how we can be loving on our people while serving our community.

So my biggest prayer request for this month is that the Lord can give us discernment for what to do next: The steps needed to build stability as an organization; the people we need to love on who come through our doors; the outreach we need to conduct in our city; all without being stretched too thin to ensure our church is here for the long haul.

– Pastor Jake Thurston