After eleven years of amazing opportunities in ministry at CrossPoint, I found myself trying to figure out what God wanted me to do next. I began seeking Him for a new opportunity. I prayed for direction. I had conversations with numerous people to see what was out there. I talked with friends and family for their advice. Should I seek a position leading a worship department at another church? Maybe take my show on the road offering consulting and coaching for worship ministries that could use a hand. Write more books? Record more records? People had a lot of ideas about what my future could be.
Many of the conversations led to the same surprising idea—at least surprising to me—that I should start a new ministry. A ministry to the people of Katy without being in direct competition with other local churches.
One of the first people to bring up the idea was my daughter. “Dad, why don’t you start a new church?” I tried explaining to Von how hard it is to start something from scratch, how we had tried a couple of times in the past, and how it is a lot easier said than done. She shrugged her shoulders and insisted, “I think it would be awesome.”
My typically wise friend Kemper Crabb was the next one to bring it up. “Have you thought about starting a new church? You’ve been ministering to a lot of people over the years who may want to join you on something new. I don’t think God’s done using you in this area.”
Several other people came forward to say roughly the same thing. I began to take the idea to heart. I started fantasizing about how cool it would be to start a church that was also a “third place.”
People need a place that is not their home or work, they seek a third place, a safe place to gather and hangout with friends. Like home and work, the third place also shapes your identity. Not unlike the bar in Cheers, Central Perk on Friends, the diner on Seinfeld, or even Starbucks, a “third place” would combine the things I love most—great coffee, great beer and comfort food—with worship. A lot of churches desire to provide the “third place” but they’re not equipped for that because they’re only open on Sunday and don’t offer a setting for people to actually get to know each other socially, at least not on a daily basis. What if I opened a place that offered all of these things all week long, in a way that fosters hanging out with friends, belonging, sharing life and becoming community? We would also come together to enjoy great worship on the weekend. It seems like the perfect means to be a vocational blessing to the community while building a bridge to and with the people who live here.
I started seriously considering that God might actually want me to do this crazy new ministry. But I kept talking myself out of it, “Nah. That’s nuts.” There must be a thousand reasons why planting a gastropub church in Katy is a bad idea.
After this, I had a dream about starting a new church and remembered every detail about it. I saw the facility where it was located. I saw the stage, the lights, the sound system hanging from the ceiling—I even recognized a bunch of the people in the room. I saw how we could install stage lights to define the space, how we could hang a giant black curtain to make the room beautiful, and use TVs to display lyrics for singing. I woke up thinking, “Hmmm, that could actually work.”
I couldn’t get it out of my head all day. I started thinking of names for the church. I contacted the owner of the facility through Facebook and asked if I could run an idea by him face-to-face. I didn’t know him very well but we had exchanged hellos many times. The only real conversation between us had taken place four years earlier when my son went to his daughter’s birthday party because they were in the same class. He invited me to meet him at his facility the following day at 6 pm.
The next evening I sat in a conference room with him and his wife and described my dream of starting a new church. He told me that on the way back from a business meeting earlier that very day they had been discussing my layoff and decided to search for a new church home. An hour later, there I was, sitting in front of them, presenting my ideas about starting a new church. The more we talked the more excited they got about the idea.
“Yes. The answer is ‘yes.’ We are in. Mi casa, su casa!”
I said, “Wow, that’s really cool, but you need to hear about the crazy left turn I want to take in phase three of this church idea.” I started telling them about “third place” and how I think having a gastropub would be a great way to be a bridge to the community. Not a “Christian pub,” just a great establishment where we also happen to have worship services on the weekend.
He looked at his wife, who was giggling by this point, and said, “Did you put him up to this?” They explained they had already begun securing the space next door to install a coffee shop/wine bar. In other words, the idea was already underway. Suddenly, it was as if the 150,000 piece jigsaw puzzle of this new church had flown out of the box and landed nearly completely assembled on the floor. I was starting to see it.
I set up a meeting with a pastor friend named Aaron who had started a church about a year before called Oikos. Like me, he had been part of the same LCMS church for over ten years and had recently started a new church near his former congregation. I wanted to ask him what he had learned from the experience— maybe there were things we could do differently and avoid problems. I hadn’t explained to him why I was coming over.
We sat in his living room and he said, “I’m dying to know what this meeting is about. I know what I HOPE you want to talk with me about…”
I laughed, “What do you HOPE I am here to talk about?” I assumed he wanted to know what had happened between me and CrossPoint.
“I think it would be awesome if you wanted to talk about starting a new church.” He actually said that. I was floored.
God has confirmed the idea of this new church in many ways through various people and circumstances. Although I have not talked about it publicly, people have come to me asking what I am planning on doing next and in what ways they can be part of it. Whatever it is.
God is assembling the launch group for this new adventure.
THE NEW CHURCH
So, I’m starting a new church and it’s pretty exciting. We meet on Saturday evenings at The Athletic Performance Lab of Katy near Toys R Us on Katy Fort Bend road. Informal worship from 6:00 to 7:15 pm is followed by an amazing BYOB and food hang time until 9 pm or so. Jesus is glorified and we have a blast.
You probably have questions. There is a lot about this new church that we don’t know yet, but we are listening carefully to what God wants us to do and who He wants us to be. Some things are perfectly clear and others are still taking shape.
This is our origin story. Phase One of our journey has just begun. I would love for you to consider joining us but I feel like I need to must warn you beforehand: WARNING! We are not trying to impress anyone. This is not the time to “check us out” by kicking our tires unless you want to help us build the rest of the car. In time, the dream will come alive in full splendor with lights, sound and snazzy production. If those things are important to you, you could wait and kick the tires then.
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.” Zechariah 4:10
It has been amazing watching God orchestrate this new church as I follow Him around like a kid on an Easter egg hunt. Right now we are assembling our core team, the people who want to be on mission with us, people who want to be part of an exciting new thing Jesus is doing in Katy bringing glory to God and blessing to others.
Maybe you want to roll up your sleeves and join us. That would be fantastic! We need more people to help us with this new adventure. If you do, bring a lawn-chair, we don’t have many seats. Yet.
(If you plan on coming and need childcare, please RSVP)
Saturday evenings at 6:00
481 Katy Fort Bend Rd #210
Katy, TX 77494