What's in a name?
A name is not given lightly—and that includes the name of a new church. Melissa Nickel is a member of Watershed, a church plant in the Waldo/Brookside area of Kansas City, Mo., and she talks here about the name chosen for this new Mennonite Brethren congregation.
The nature of a watershed, where multiple water sources combine and drain into a larger water source, is a picture of community. Individual sources of water drain into a common place creating a new body of water. Each smaller water source contributes to this newly formed body of water, rendering each water source changed. Each source no longer solely carries elements of its own journey.
Church planting and community creation is much like this process. Each of us in this Jesus-centered, mission-focused, story-guided community comes with distinctive traits, personalities and journeys. And when we “dump” into each other, something new is created. Equipped by the community’s strengths and admonitions, we don’t stay in the watershed. We leave into the “sea” of the world to proclaim a new way of modeling Jesus.
Community makes missional living possible. God has graciously granted me opportunities to proclaim this new way of life inside the context of community. I invite you to look at your community and ask how it is helping you live a mission-centered life. If you don’t have a life-giving community, ask God to give you one.
From pain to new life
The birth of a child is not without pain, and the same can sometimes be said for the birth of a new church. Millard Bible Church, Omaha, Neb., experienced a tremendous amount of pain, turmoil and conflict to the point that it was decided that closing this struggling church would be in the best interest of all parties.
Today God is doing an amazing thing through a new ministry at this location. What began in 2008 as a multisite satellite campus of Shadow Lake Community Church in Papillion, Neb., is now a new church plant. For the past two years a small congregation of 50 to 60 people enjoyed live worship along with a taped video message from the Shadow Lake pastor, Brian Classen. Classen’s decision this past summer to take a pastoral position at a church near Kansas City, Kan., created a void for messages and teaching at the Millard satellite campus.
A year ago Chad Stoner began serving the Millard site as the campus pastor, and following Classen’s departure Stoner began to preach live. The attendance began to grow and it became obvious in just a few weeks that a stand-alone church plant could be born and would thrive under his teaching and leadership.
On a September afternoon the Central District Conference (CDC) church planting board, Mission USA, representatives of Shadow Lake Community Church and Stoner and his wife, Elaine, met and agreed that God was leading in a powerful way to create a new church plant at this location where only recently there was tremendous turmoil. And that afternoon Stonybrook Church, named for the Stonybrook area of Millard, was born. The Stoners completed their church planter assessment in November, and official support from the CDC and Mission USA will begin Dec. 1.
Since August, this fledgling church has grown to over 100 attendees on Sunday mornings, including 30 children. Four adult baptisms occurred in October and another seven were celebrated in November. The congregation began meeting in two worship services Nov. 21 in order to handle the growth.
Stonybrook Church is a Mennonite Brethren church plant supported over the next three years by the CDC and Mission USA, along with Shadow Lake Community Church, the “mother” church. A Project Team made up of representatives of these entities plus three Stonybrook Church leaders will provide leadership as the church develops.