Church on the Block: A Multimodal Expression of Church

Aug 12, 2021

My wife always says you can turn a jetski on a dime. If you do that with a cruise ship you’ll break it in two. Lasting change takes time so give it the time required.
Leading up to the Innovation Meetup, we will share examples of multiple expressions of church from the leaders of those churches themselves. Today we’re hearing from Austin Abney, a co-vocational pastor at Lifepointe Church. At the Innovation Meetup we’ll be tackling the idea of multimodal church. That is, multiple expressions of church. Do we keep telling a story of church guided by black-and-white, compartmentalized, this or that thinking? Or can We begin to see multiple expressions of church as an “AND” in the story God is writing for His glory?
Stadia: Tell us about yourself!
Austin: My name is Austin Abney. I grew up in Lexington, Kentucky and later on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Over the last 19 years of ministry my wife, Ashley, and I have had the opportunity to serve in youth ministry, church planting, and multisite ministry across the US. Today, I serve as a co-vocational pastor with Lifepointe Church and as a realtor in the Raleigh area. I can’t think of a better place to make an eternal impact or a greater city to call home. Lifepointe is a multisite church in Raleigh, North Carolina. We have one location in Raleigh and second located in Cary, NC. Since 2004 we have been about the mission of helping people connect with God. 
S: Tell us about how your church has embraced a different model of church.
A: Over the last 15 months we have worked to expand our efforts to help people in Wake County and beyond connect with God by adding two new ministry environments. These different modes of ministry enable us to reach people across a spectrum of faith, curiosity, and stage in life.
In addition to Sunday morning in-person worship we added a second ministry environment called Church Online. For Lifepointe, Church Online serves as a staffed worship environment where people can begin to connect with Lifepointe, with each other, and with God. Our goal is to help people move from online to offline and connect in one of our other two in-person ministry environments.
The third ministry environment at Lifepointe is also our newest. It is called Church on the Block. Church on the Block exists to help people connect with God in their specificities communities, neighborhoods, and streets. We believe life happens best in the neighborhood and seek to equip disciples of Jesus to lead localized expressions of the church where life is already happening. 
S: What is a win you have experienced?
A: Our first church on the block location chose not to recruit from within the church. They are a large family and natural extroverts. To date, they are running nearly 17 people weekly reaching neighbors and friends across a spectrum of faith. They meet weekly, serve monthly, and host parties on a regular basis in the hope that their neighborhood connects with God.


S: What is a challenge you have experienced?
A: Church on the Block is a vastly different model than our church has been used to over the last 18 years. For this reason, helping communicate the vision clearly enough to recruit leaders to leave a Sunday morning experience they love has been slow going.
S: What advice would you give church leaders as they work through new expressions of church?
Determine ahead of time a long runway for success. If you’re entrepreneurial by nature you dream of change and you likely dream of it happening quickly. My wife always says you can turn a jetski on a dime. If you do that with a cruise ship you’ll break it in two. Lasting change takes time so give it the time required.