But we have the ability, through technology, to be a hub to train and release people into their neighborhoods and work places to reach those who are far from Christ.
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 digital church pastor, Christopher. 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!
Christopher: My name is Christopher Monroe. I grew up in church and felt God’s call on my life at a young age. I moved to Beaver Dam, KY in 2003 and there I met my wife, Kristi. We were married in 2004 and have been serving in ministry together since before we were married. We have served as Youth Pastors, Worship Pastor, Associate Pastor, and Lead Pastor over the last 18 years.
In 2018 God began to deal with us and shake our life up a bit. In the beginning of 2018 God opened the door for us to begin our own concrete business, towards the end of 2018 God began to deal with me about planting a church. It was a long journey to get to place where we both said yes to God and in 2020 we set down with our pastor to talk about what we felt God was calling us to do: plant Relate Church.
Relate Church is here to build relationships with God, Each Other, and Our Communities. I say communities because Relate Church is not bound to a physical location, but is a digital church that meets primarily on Facebook. Our vision is to build a network of relationships, both physically and digitally; to create a safe place to find community and explore faith; and to be a hub to train, empower, and release into our own mission field.
S: Tell us about how your church has embraced a different model of church.
C: When we first set out to plant a church we were planning on planting a physical church, and then came Covid. So we took a step back to see just how God was leading us we didn’t know digital was an option. We began to do some ministry on Facebook just trying to encourage people, and the more we moved in that direction the more we felt God leading us. It was Kristi who first said, “What if we start the church digitally?” And from there we have been on a journey to see just what that meant for us.
We have meet other digital planters who knew from the beginning what kind of digital church they were planting. We just found out that digital church was something we could do. It took some time and experimenting before we have came up with what exactly Relate Church would look like. But we have the ability, through technology, to be a hub to train and release people into their neighborhoods and work places to reach those who are far from Christ. We have embraced The Timothy Initiative discipleship program that focuses on teaching others how to share their story and God’s story in simple and reproduce-able ways. Training leaders to begin to have groups in their homes, coffee shops, workplaces, or wherever God might open a door, to take the what we learn digitally into the physical.
Our focus is going to be on the discipleship that happens in the homes, what we will call our micro-locations. While still meeting on Facebook to grow together as a church. We currently have a weekday morning devotion that meets on Facebook every morning Monday – Friday. We also have a time of Live worship on Sundays that meets on Facebook as well. We are going to be launching on September 12 with a monthly digital service, pointing people to get involved in our discipleship groups.
S: What is a win you have experienced?
Recently we had the privilege to baptize 2, a mother and son. It was an awesome day and a great experience to be able to have our first baptism. You can watch a video here
S: What is a challenge you have experienced?
C: Some of the challenges we’ve faced are no different than what you would experience in a physical church. Such as, not everyone who says I will be there, will be there.
For us, not coming in originally with the thought of planting digitally was figuring out what that was going to look like. We hadn’t seen very many digital only churches, just physical church broadcasting their physical service, and we wanted to do more than that. It took time and experimenting to really come up with what Relate Church would look like.
Another challenge is one most digital planters will face on some level is getting people to buy into digital church. But when you remember that the people you are trying to reach are not church people and most of them don’t care what church looks like, it makes it a little easier. The “church world” will come around if we can focus on the mission God has given us and try not to feel like we have to prove ourselves constantly.
S: What advice would you give church leaders as they work through new expressions of church?
C: You don’t have to have it all figured out from the get go. Take that first step and follow God’s leading. He will direct the next one. Don’t be afraid to try things. Don’t get discouraged if some things don’t work. Don’t compare to other digital ministries. In my cohort, there was 3 digital planters, not a single one of our churches look the same. Find what works for you and your context and run with it.