2) Adapting a Kingdom Vision for 21st Century Realities

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save
what was lost. Luke 19:10

As Grace Church approached the 2010 horizon, leaders began asking how we could launch a new church. The attendance, staffing and financial resources for sending off an independent church were not present. Sending out a large core of members to an independent 'daughter church' would likely harm the original church and put the new church at significant risk. However, we remained committed to the bigger calling.

Was there another way? Could God's Kingdom expand through our church community with a greater possibility of thriving? After prayerful research, our pastor proposed to the elders for their consideration a multi-site model. We presented the multi-site concept to the congregation in April 2008, opening up a time of prayer and discussion. In particular, the community groups around San Jose began discerning a call for them to unite together as a launch team for a new site.

Multi-site churches are not technically new, but the movement has grown in the last ten years. Hundreds of churches in America have adapted to become churches that are united in purpose with different segments of the congregation meeting in different locations. Rather than simply adding another worship service on an existing campus, additional services begin in new locations.

Multi-site is a method to achieve a greater purpose: expanding God's Kingdom. Among the many different ways to serve missionally, a multi-site church brings several strengths. It is not the best approach for every church at every time. The leadership of Grace Church sees this method as an effective way that God could enable our church to live out its core vision. Multi-site churches combine some of the strengths of local, smaller churches (community, neighborhood focus, outreach) with some of the strengths of larger churches (experienced staff, broad impact, joint ministries to needy people).

Bottom line: We're moving in a multi-site direction because of our deeper missional commitment. Multi-site is NOT for convenience, for trendiness, for personality, for merely adding attendees, even simply for its practical benefits. Multi-site is for the sake of Jesus.

Next, we'll see why new churches are essential for God's kingdom growth.
As always, we welcome your response, questions and feedback. Discuss below, or contact any pastor or elder directly.

[photo of central San Jose by Steve Dorsey. from flickr]


1) Grace Church: A History of Mission and Ministry

Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
Psalm 96:3

The story of Grace Church begins in 1999. Our founding pastor and his wife were considering several church planting opportunities around the country. They had recently received approval at the PCA Church Planting Assessment Center and were seeking God's call to a location that matched their passion and gifts. Silicon Valley was presented as a region with very few churches and a majority of people who did not follow Jesus. As a globally connected region of innovation and influence, Silicon Valley clearly rose as God's primary calling.

The hope was to create a network of connected churches that resourced Christians throughout the area for ministry, discipleship and worship. We hoped to become a collection of affiliated churches where secularized skeptics and devoted followers could meet Jesus together. The need for new churches in the South Bay is staggering; some estimate that several hundred new churches need to begin within the next decade.

Grace Presbyterian Church began worship in April 2001 with a small committed core of people who shared that vision for a network of new churches. As the church grew from one site to the next, more people entered into the community. The first group of elected lay elders recommitted to the mission in 2005, and set a five year goal of planting a second church within five years (by 2010). That dream was a way to acknowledge the Great Commission call to our church community.

Mark 16:15, Jesus's call to preach the gospel in all the world, is not a nice addition or a mere suggestion. It's part of the gospel itself. God's grace is offered to undeserving and needy people, who receive it simply by grace through faith. Growth as a follower of Jesus includes reaching out in service and love to others. It's impossible to claim a deeper understanding of grace if that gift is kept to yourself.

The Kingdom of God is an active, alive Kingdom. The Kingdom is already everywhere in the universe, of course. But that Kingdom is resisted by many, to the continuing harm of those who miss the gospel. The deliberate re-instituted rule and reign of Jesus brings comprehensive restoration to the fallen world.

The Kingdom belongs in every corner of the world, to every person in the world. The true Church, God's gathered followers, is a core part of that bigger Kingdom. The history of the Church is a history of God's Kingdom working through his followers to expand the glory of Christ throughout the world. From Jerusalem, to the Roman empire, to every nation, the gospel has moved from one generation to the next.

Each place and time causes the church to rethink why and how it lives out the gospel. Many ways exist to fulfill God's missional call, for example: personal relational evangelism, global missions, mercy ministries, inviting and including people into a church community, church planting, bi-vocational ministry. Each of these ways are useful means of God's kingdom expansion.

Next, we'll explore what God can do through our church.
As always, we welcome your response, questions and feedback. Discuss below, or contact any pastor or elder directly.


George Herbert's poetry about the pastorate

George Herbert, a metaphysical poet of the 17th century, was also an English country priest. His poetry mixes the complexities of his era with profound, often moving, spiritual reflection. Several are meditations on his role as a pastor.

Here's his poem "Aaron" about the need for another to cover his 'profaneness' and clothe him in a holiness which cannot come from his own works. He's referring to the Old Testament priest Aaron's garment worn in worship and sacrifice. In honor of Luke's ordination this coming Sunday, it's a fitting way to introduce yourself to some of George Herbert's beauty. I had this poem printed in the worship bulletin on the day that I was ordained in 1996.


HOLINESS on the head, 
    Light and perfection on the breast, 
Harmonious bells below raising the dead 
    To lead them unto life and rest. 
            Thus are true Aarons drest.* 

            Profaneness in my head, 
    Defects and darkness in my breast, 
A noise of passions ringing me for dead 
    Unto a place where is no rest : 
            Poor priest ! thus am I drest. 

            Only another head 
    I have another heart and breast, 
Another music, making live, not dead, 
    Without whom I could have no rest : 
            In Him I am well drest. 

            Christ is my only head, 
    My alone only heart and breast, 
My only music, striking me e'en dead ; 
    That to the old man I may rest, 
            And be in Him new drest. 

            So holy in my Head, 
    Perfect and light in my dear Breast, 
My doctrine tuned by Christ (who is not dead, 
    But lives in me while I do rest), 
            Come, people
;  Aaron's drest. 

* drest = archaic English for 'dressed'. Referring to 
Exodus xxviii. 29-37.
Source: Herbert, George. The Works of George Herbert in Prose and Verse.
New York: John Wurtele Lovell, 1881. 276-277.