So I’m Starting a Church

April 7, 2014 — 84 Comments


Some of you know that Mary and I have recently made the outrageous decision to leave Church of the Open Door in order to plant a new church here in the twin cities. We love Open Door with all of our hearts, and it has been such a difficult decision to leave. But after about a million conversations, there is an undeniable sense that we need to do this, that God is inviting us to do this, and so we are saying yes. It’s thrilling, scary, and we’re ankle deep in the waters of new beginnings.

Here’s what we know so far:

This new church will be called Genesis, and our vision is to join God’s work of cultivating new beginnings in all of us, everywhere. We believe God is always at work making all things new; God is always repairing and healing what is broken. So we want to partner with God in doing all that good stuff.

We hope to be a quirky mix of contemplative and active, of recognizing and responding, of slowing down and moving forward. We hope our gatherings will be simple, beautiful, hopeful, and anchored in God’s story of resurrection; that surprising new life can and does shoot up out of dead and dying places. We want to be community where joy overcomes cynicism, and where we send each other out into our actual lives, rooted in who God has made each of us, to do all kinds of good wherever we find ourselves. We want to be a place of simplicity, conversation, delight, and restoration. We are calling ourselves ordinary apprentices of Jesus who are learning to love God, ourselves, and others wholeheartedly.

And by ourselves, I mean all 13 of us, so far. We’re huge! Of those 13, we have people in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s. We don’t have a target audience. We are flinging the doors wide open for people who are desperately hungry for new beginnings: with God, with each other, and in the world. Actually, there are 22 of us, because 9 kids happen to be joining us on the adventure. When I asked Elijah if he’d be coming with us to Genesis, he paused and then said, “Ab-so-wutewy.”

So we’re off to a good start.

We do not know where we will meet yet, but the areas we’re looking at are: Robbinsdale, Crystal, Golden Valley, St. Louis Park, Hopkins, and parts of South Minneapolis. We’ll meet on Sunday mornings, once a month during June, July, and August, then we’ll begin gathering weekly on Sunday mornings in the fall.

There are so many great churches in the twin cities; you might wonder why we’re starting another one. Even with all the great churches, there are still many who are disillusioned, many who have questions, and many on the margins of faith who haven’t yet found a spiritual community that feels like home. And I have learned that I’m wired up to create a culture where people can pursue God in their actual lives, as their actual selves. And we believe new beginnings often generate new beginnings. So we’re doing it.

So – fellow lunatics – pray for our little band of 22 as we gather others to join us on the adventure. At times, I’m wild with excitement, and at other times, it seems like a whole lot of unknown, and these waters are uncharted, at least for me. I will tell you this: I’m having fun.

So stay tuned. I’ll be providing more info on this adventure in the weeks to come.

84 responses to So I’m Starting a Church

  1. Wow, exciting! Both you and Mary are uniquely gifted for this new adventure, and I can’t wait to hear more about it! God bless.

  2. Wow, exciting! Both you and Mary are uniquely gifted for this new adventure and I can’t wait to here more about it. God bless.

  3. This is exciting news! I’ve always hoped you would plant a Church someday. I can’t wait to see what God does through you and Mary and the rest of your team. My vote is for south Minneapolis.

  4. Lakisha Mitchell April 15, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    I’m very excited to witness the beginning of Genesis. Please add me to the list of those who want more information on the when, where and how.

  5. Steve –
    i have lots of friends who could benefit from church
    to be nurtured toward a growing faith
    from recognizing that God is alive (joy unspeakable!)
    that despite a life of curveballs and sliders and knuckle balls, that they were not being picked on by a cosmically indifferent Father of the universe
    but these are not church people
    they are agnostic, atheist
    some homosexual, some straight
    (is that how God divides people?–by sexual orientation?)
    these are honest folk, good folk, many disillusioned by the Church
    they’ve actively or passively rejected God, not because of who God is but the image presented to them was a lie and they believed it
    don’t be mistaken, though
    this is an intensely spiritual bunch
    i hope your church can be a place where i can invite some of these friends
    and i’ll know…because i’ll be able to feel it
    either it is a safe place to be “your actual self” or it is not
    no one will be fooled
    but if WE can truly create a safe place for people to be their “actual selves”
    many will return to their faith
    many will find a spiritual home
    many lives will be transformed by the love of Jesus
    not sure if that’s possible in this world
    sounds too good to be true
    but it would be…

  6. Hi Steve;

    Steve I am an actual Pastor also for
    My works are are shocking and I have always been dismissed by the church but it makes no difference to me because Jesus told me to feed his sheep.

  7. What a great name for a church, and what an inspiring vision. If I lived in the Twin Cities, I would be there!

  8. Chris Solberg April 9, 2014 at 7:32 am

    God bless you on this new journey, Steve & Mary! God has gifted you uniquely for this. I wish we lived closer – we’d join you!

  9. Congratulations and just know our family in Chanhassen will be attending!

  10. I am so anxious to be a part!
    Looking forward to finding where you will land the spot!
    Thanks Steve & Mary for taking this huge step!

  11. Molly McDonnell April 8, 2014 at 6:15 am

    I’m coming with you, so that makes 23. I just need to know when and where. Love it! Can’t wait!

  12. So glad I read this post. I was just bragging about you to one of our staff at the church. About your blog focusing on how sometimes love looks a lot like a sandwich. Congrats on taking this step (leap). As someone who is 4 years into the church planting journey I’d love to be a sounding board for you.

  13. So excited for you, Steve! Huge loss for Open Door, but so important, and so good, (and SO scary, I’m sure) to follow where God is leading you. You’d better find a place with room to grow — I’ll expect you’ll need it.
    (Oh, and you get my exuberant vote for the Robbinsdale/Crystal area!)

  14. WOOHOO!! Welcome to the Covenant! Major score for the ECC. :)
    If someone were waxing lunatical (that’s a word, right?) and wished to visit an upcoming Sunday AM Genesis summer service, where might said lunatic go?

  15. Hi. I’m in year 5 of this adventure. I started a blog when I started. You might find some pitfalls to miss or some encouragement. Feel free to email me if you need someone to hear a joy or sorrow. I will understand. Keep the faith!

  16. I wish you God’s blessing. I am a certified planter and I know the challenges that go with starting a new church. Let God lead and He will show you His plans.

  17. we hope that your vision ,your hopes and your wants are all realized. a spiritual community that feels like home. what could God want more than us to feel at home with Him. I expect nothing. We hope it all comes to be.Thank you .what a wonderful example you are to us all.

  18. So excited for you! But just how badly will you miss working with Al Schuck? How will you do it?

  19. Steve,
    The name is perfect.
    If you ever have time to check out the song “Beyond the Blue” by Josh Garrels (listen to it with Mary, if possible), that is our prayer for you.

  20. I can’t even tell you how excited I am for this! I have only been attending OD for just over 1 year now and I was at the service when you broke the news about leaving. I was so sad for this, but then relieved when you said you’d be starting a church of your own! I get so much out of your sermons and I cannot wait to be part of the beginning of a new church!

  21. Lizabeth Shelberg April 7, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    Praying for you Steve!Please pick South Minneapolis!That’s where I live.I am without wheels and transportation to church has been a real sore spot for me!I realize you aren’t going to pick the spot just because of my issues but wouldn’t it be awesome to have a little urban flavor to your new church?I would also try very hard to promote this new church!God bless you in your new direction!Love,Lizabeth

  22. Miss you already, Steve! God bless you both as you continue to seek and follow. We will come visit for sure!

  23. So excited for you, Steve. What an exciting place to be. Praying for your new community and that the Lord will bless you in ways that you can hardly even imagine.

  24. God bless you and your family as you do Gods work and inspire the rest of us to follow Him.
    Thanks for everything Steve.

  25. Wishing you strength, courage and hope in your new adventure.”May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13, Will keep you in my prayers

  26. When I read your post to my husband he said…” I wonder if they could plant a Church here in Winnipeg!” :) Though our beautiful city is also know as WINTERpeg, ManiSNOWba…so we totally understand if you pass…ha! We pray that God continues to Bless you and your family with peace,joy and wisdom for the road, as you walk out God’s calling on your life.

  27. jared mitchell April 7, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    There is an empty church in north minneapolis, i wouldnt mind if you set up in my neighborhood!

  28. Sounds amazing…I’ll pray for this journey. Can you get as close to Buffalo, MN as possible?! 😉

  29. Wow! How exciting! Are you sure you can’t start Genesis in Chapel Hill, NC?? Best wishes – and tons of prayers – to you as you embark on this new adventure.

  30. And you couldn’t do this at Open Door because?!

    • Great question, Andy. The short answer is that it’s already happening at OD. This kind of life needs to spring up all over. And there are lots of people who can’t or won’t make the trip to maple grove. Thanks, man!

  31. Oh this sounds so good, I hope it will be handicapped accessible.

  32. What an exciting adventure! I’m one of the pastors at Genesis UMC in Fort Worth, TX. (A church of new beginnings!) We’ll be praying for you with great anticipation of what God will do through you! Blessings always!!

  33. Congrats, Steve.
    I can feel your passion and enthusiasm for God’s work! I share your articles often with a wide variety of friends and family. I am a practicing Mormon who wishes my religion was more open to others who wants to love God; regardless of their love- lives, willingness to get baptized or how they dress. Here’s to hoping your church is that open door to everyone and anyone who wants to find God through YOU and your courage to do hard things! Love the mission statement and your beautiful words you share so often. My faith grows with it. Thank you, dearly!
    Grateful East Coast reader!

    • Awesome. Thanks, Keri. Your vision for spreading God’s love is beautiful. We’ll be in Connecticut for a few days this May. Thanks for your encouragement!

  34. Will miss you at Open Door but so excited for the two of you Steve and Mary!! Sounds beautiful!! Pretty sure God is excited to be joining you in this new venture too :) Praying He continue to reveal and unfold all He has for you both in this.

  35. Blessings and prayers.

  36. Steve…how absolutely exciting! I remember when my wife and I did a “re-plant” of a dying congregation over 30 years ago. It was fabulous. And, as you said, sacry.
    But He is faithful! We will be praying for you. I love your mission statement!

  37. Praying, Steve!
    God does great repair jobs.
    In his name. Amen

  38. Hey Steve,
    My step mom introduced me to your site. Love that you’re staring a church. We just started a new church in November in Northern VA (Leesburg). Sounds like similar story and would love to connect and let me know if there’s any way we can help.

    Drew Clyde

  39. Wow – this is awesome news. As I read your post, I could feel it was right with each word written. I so wish I lived close enough to attend. I don’t go to church in my area because we live in a small town and everyone there talks about everyone else there, if that makes sense. My home church (that I grew up in and was a big part of the youth group there) is not the same. Very judgmental and kicking people out left and right for “sinning”. I send every good wish to you and just know this is an endeavor that will be very powerful. Kudos to you and your wife. You are most certainly, “Daring Greatly”!!!!

  40. Love you guys…

  41. Helen Peachey April 7, 2014 at 8:31 am

    Hi Steve. How exciting! God is on the move doing extraordinaire things inside the established church and outside! He has led our little band of followers outside the church. Some have called it a wilderness and others an oasis! All I know is that my relationship with Father has grown and developed in such an intimate way since the church was deconstructed.
    I have valued your insights and realistic points of view so much over the past few years!
    May you and yours be blessed beyond measure are you follow His call.

  42. Mary-Katherine Fleming April 7, 2014 at 8:27 am

    Is Genesis able yo accept donations yet?

    • Wow! That’s so generous. Yes. Checks only at this early stage. Please make them out to Northwest Conference of the E.C.C., and put “Genesis Covenant Church” in the memo. We’re planting with the Evangelical Covenant Church. Your gift is fully tax deductible. Here’s the address:

      Northwest Conference of the E.C.C.
      3106 47th Ave S
      Minneapolis, MN  55406

  43. I will be praying – and watching, as we way out in Swtzerland are trying a similar experiment…

  44. Congrats… I only wish it were in CO!!!

  45. Please say you will be doing a webcast or podcast…Indiana is far away and I love your insights…I get my God-fix through your blog & my Thirty-One business! Best of luck!!

  46. Good luck to you! A friend from graduate school did precisely the same thing when we graduated. Her small church is still small in terms of Sunday attendance, but she truly is practising a ministry of presence and does a lot of work with some of those who are most marginalised by the mainstream Christian community, including people on the LGBTQ spectrum and do not feel welcome in mainstream churches; and people who are homeless, amongst others.

  47. Whoa, Steve and Mary! This is awesome! I’m so excited for you guys! Can’t wait to hear more!
    Ernie recently posted…012: Owned by a 9-Year-OldMy Profile

  48. Blessings on this new adventure, Steve! We’ll miss you at Open Door, but will be praying for God to do mighty things in and through your “little band”.

  49. God bless you and yours, Steve.

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