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hosting congregation

One Church, Multiple Congregations

Dr. Charles Revis, Executive Minister, ABC of the Northwest

Last Sunday I visited Spokane Valley Baptist Church where Dr. Norm Haupt is the pastor. I was pleased that they showed a video clip from the America for Christ promotional DVD (I've embedded it at the end of this post.) This clip showed Stan Crews and the revitalization taking place at Monte Vista Baptist Church in Phoenix, AZ. Over the years the congregation has experienced dramatic aging and decline. However, it has recently been renewing its vision for outreach. They jump started their outward focus by opening their facility to other churches that needed meeting space. (One is Hispanic and the other is Karen.) And more than providing space, they partner with these congregations in ministry so that together they are reaching their community for Christ. The presence of these two congregations holds the potential to help the "mother church" start a new life cycle of renewed vision, outreach and growth.

There are several churches in the ABCNW that are hosting a congregation within their facilities. Some are congregations that have their own identity, a church within a church, if you will. Some of these are "fellowships" comprised of a particular ethnic group.

For example, under the first category there is the new Communidad de Esperanza meeting at FBC Bremerton; the new Everett Community Church meeting at FBC Everett; El Camino meeting at Southside UP Church; Tabernaculo Biblico Bautista de Utah at FBC Ogden; Primera Iglesia Bautista Hispana at FBC Buehl; and Beautiful Baptist Church, a Korean congregation, meeting at The Bridge in Snohomish, WA. Blessed Life Church in Bellevue, WA was planted by Seattle Chinese Baptist Church, and originally met in the facilities of the Newport Hills Community Church.

Under the second category there is a new Mongolian fellowship meeting at Newport Hills Community Church. At this point their intention is to be a fellowship group within the congregation, not a separate church. Also, there is the Karen fellowship which is a part of FBC Boise (more about both of these exciting developments in another blog).

There is a third category that is emerging, which I believe to be the wave of the future. And that is the intentionally, multi-ethnic congregation. This is one church composed of multiple ethnic fellowships or sub-congregations. But there is one board, one budget, one staff team, and one church. This is the direction that FBC Yakima and La Verdad are taking. It's been a long and challenging journey, but as of last Sunday the two previous congregations officially affirmed the transition into one, multi-ethnic church. Congratulations to pastors Dave Roberts and Manuel Luquin and the people of both congregations in this historic transition!

In fact I am so excited about this last model that we selected our 2010 ABCNW Biennial speaker in part for his commitment to multi-ethnicity. Efrem Smith, pastor of the Sanctuary Covenant Church in Minneapolis, MN, will be our speaker. What a dynamic guy! His church was planted in 2003 with the intention of being multi-ethnic from the ground level. This is now a thriving congregation of a 1,000 people in worship attendance. We have much to learn from churches like his. 

I believe that sponsoring a new church plant, or embracing an emerging ethnic Christian fellowship, within an existing church's facility is one way to be a church that is truly mission-focused. Indeed, the world has moved to our front door steps, and the possibilities for engaging in mission in our own communities are endless.

2009 © Dr. Charles Revis, ABC Northwest
[This article is from Dr. Revis’ blog,]