Studying our Community

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So what exactly does a Church Planter do? The answer to that has filled a number of 100+ page books, but I won’t dare attempt to replicate that material here. Instead, I’m beginning a series that I’ll occasionally contribute to here on my blog, bringing you regular insights to the life of a practicing Church Planter who seeks to contribute to the ever-growing Kingdom of God through the building of His church. 

We Intently Study Our Community

In today’s growing post-Christian culture, it’s not enough to simply know a few facts about the community we intend to plant a new church in, we have to study it. As a Church Planter, I spend a lot of time in our community, working from the local coffee shops and restaurants, visiting public parks with our kids, shopping at the local grocery stores, visiting established churches in the community, networking, and developing relationships with our neighbors. To study our community, we have to integrate ourselves into it. We’re learners, explorers and scientists. Through observation and conversation, we’re learning what our community values, fears, prides themselves in, and daily lives are shaped by.

Just this week, I wrapped up a detailed 10-page demographic report of our region that has helped provide some crucial insights of the population within an 8-mile radius of our ideal location. (We chose 8-miles because it represented an average maximum drive time of 20 minutes, a typical or “short” commute time for most in our suburban context.) My demographic study revealed some important general insights, but it falls short of understanding the hearts, minds, and less visible needs of the community. This kind of data can only be collected by spending observational time in public and entering into conversation with others. I’m carrying a small notebook around with me wherever I go these days, writing observational notes and follow-up questions to myself.

The benefits of an intense, on-going study of our community will do two things:

  1. It will grow my heart as a Pastor for the people in our community. I’ll learn to love them as men and women made in the image of God, become overwhelmingly compassionate as the curse and bondage of sin is uncovered and exposed, and know in specific ways how I can pray for people and the community at large.
  2. It will bring to light how our new church plant, Restoration Church, can specifically with clarity and vision, be able to bring healing, grace, salvation, and restoration to our community. In other words, we’ll begin to learn about the unmet needs of the community and discern how we can best uniquely respond to it with the gospel.

As a Church Planter, I’m asking myself this important question: How will our presence in this community be part of God’s divine work that establishes the name of Christ as the sole Lord and Savior necessary for sanctified personal and cultural renewal?

Will you join me in praying for clarity in the answer to that question?


This is the first post in a series on “Defining a Church Planter” that I will periodically contribute to here for my readers. Aside from personal updates that I’ll continue sharing in other posts, this will be a specific series designed to introduce you to the life of a church planter. I welcome your comments, questions and feedback!