This post is part 4 of 4 in a series explaining my vision to plant a church in the Stanwood-Camano community. Here are the other posts: part 1, part 2, and part 3.

The first step towards planting a church in Stanwood will be to start a community group in the Stanwood-Camano community (starting Oct. 5). This community group will be through Communion Church (a 3-Strand church in Mount Vernon), but will function slightly differently than the other community groups. The purpose of this group will be to start gathering a core group and begin discussing the vision for the plant.
This group may include people currently attending Communion Church or Damascus Road Church (a 3-Strand church in Marysvile) who live in the Stanwood-Camano area, and also people attending other churches or with no church home who are interested in being a part of the plant. People currently attending another church in the community are welcome to stay at their current church, but will be encouraged to check out Communion Church (the sending church) to get an idea of what the church plant will be like.

This community group will be a place to invite people to come and see if they’re interested in being a part of the plant. We will have small flyers for inviting people to the group, and also have a presence online where we can point people to more information.

During these group times we will study Bible passages and other resources relevant to church planting. We will discuss the purpose of a local church, what the gospel is and isn’t, what a gospel-centered church looks like, and distinctives of this new church. We will also analyze characteristics of our community, its existing churches, needs not currently being met, and what it looks like to bring gospel-centered ministry into this context.

During this time, I (Derek) will continue to go through eldership training at Communion Church, while also regularly meeting with Jim to discuss church planting. I also will attend at least one of the 3-strand monthly meetings to connect with the other 3-strand pastors.

This period will also be used for identifying and beginning to train potential elders of the church.

We will aim for an official announcement of the church plant in January, 2015. This does not mean we will move to having Sunday services or find a church building at this point. Rather, it means we will have several things in place: 1) core beliefs and distinctives of the church, 2) a website, blog, or other online location to host this information, 3) a handout that includes brief description of the church with links to more information, 4) and a name for the church.

Once the community group grows to more than 20 people on a consistent basis, we will either look for a bigger location in which to meet or discuss branching into two groups.

Though it depends on many factors, we will look to officially launch the church, including moving to weekly services and finding a centralized space to meet, in the fall of 2015. Factors that affect this date include: finding a location, size of a committed core group, availability of a salary for Derek, and agreement/approval from Communion Church and the other 3 Strand churches.

Once the church is officially launched, Derek will serve as the lead pastor, with the elders of Communion Church being the elders of the plant until other elders are established.