Churches line the streets in most Northwestern towns, yet many people who need Christ wouldn't dream of stepping inside; kept away by their negative experiences, fears, and preconceptions. Alliance Northwest pastors and churches in Southern Oregon are banding together to do something about this. Through their partnership in the Southern Oregon Network, these churches have pooled resources to cultivate the first church plants that the region has seen in decades. These new plants aim to reach those people who might otherwise stay away from church, primarily through creating approachable communities in which those with long-standing faith – and those with none – can be comfortable.
Journey Roseburg's vision is to connect people who have no connection to church, and build a community where people share life with one another. It's in this context, says Jeff Paschall, lead pastor and planter for Journey, where people are transformed. At the base of their strategy is a call for all to "Come as you are".
Journey had their debut Sunday gathering on September 11, drawing 180 people and requiring extra chairs to be brought in. But Jeff and launch team members had been meeting since last November, using this time to work on, as Jeff puts it, "removing religious pretense from their lives, so they can find people who are lost and far from God."
This spread out into the community in various "vision projects": planned activities where they would go out and connect with the community in simple ways. One vision project took place at shuttle pick up and drop off locations for the Douglas County Fair. Team members, armed with Journey-branded water bottles and an iPad questionnaire, got 100 people to take a five-question "God Test" that covered topics like one's spiritual beliefs. One of the closing questions was, "Would you be interested in a new church starting this Fall?" Many said, "Yes."
Now, a few weeks after their grand opening, Journey Roseburg is off to a great start. And while they are blessed with a great location, it does need some immediate transformation in the form of important things like bathrooms and classrooms. Please pray for the resources so that they can make that happen. Also, pray for Journey's fledgling, young, wide-eyed ministry staff as they begin to see some success from the people that have begun to call Journey home. You can follow their progress on their website
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When Dan Gregory returned to Medford after helping to plant Lux with Micah Dodson in Seattle, he knew he wanted to plant a church but didn't have a particular vision, until God gave Dan and his wife the call to plant in earnest this past January. That's how the concept of The Living Roomcame to be.
It occurred to Dan that the best ministry that they had been a part of took place in the context of their home, in their living room. Conversations. Meals. And changed lives, too. The image of a living room communicates that this will be a safe place for people, no matter their background, to feel like family. Dan recently met a tattoo artist who felt judged walking into church because of her tattoos. Dan asked her, "What if it felt like walking into a living room, instead?" Without hesitation, she replied, "Man, I'd stay for that!"
The Living Room is currently developing their core team and holding gatherings once a month for people to experience what the church is really all about. In the Summer, these gatherings took the form of Saturday Evenings in the Park, where they would cook hot dogs, spend time together, and talk about Jesus. One evening, Dan invited a young couple to eat with them, and the man told him, "Don't want to freak you out, but I'm a Satanist." Dan replied, "I'm not freaked out–you just need to stay and hear about Jesus." They returned the next week, and he asked Dan, "I felt the darkness leaving me last week. How do I have more of that?" A week later, he and his girlfriend had accepted Christ.
Currently, The Living Room is continuing to ramp up and would appreciate the Alliance Northwest family joining with them in praying for a resident planter who can also fill an associate pastor role at the church, that more people would join their core team, and that a location would eventually be found. It will be exciting to see what God has in store for them.
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Both Jeff and Dan have found a tremendous amount of support and encouragement from being a part of the Southern Oregon Network. A greater, more tangible sense of partnership has come from banding these regional Alliance churches together through the common goal of seeing new plants materialize. As Dan puts it, "That 'living room' vibe is happening in our network. We already feel like family."