By Rob Skead
When the New Jersey District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod realized that a number of its churches were struggling and dying, it decided to get creative. The result of this creativity is the Kairos Network, an ambitious plan to reap the harvest of souls for the Kingdom and connect the disconnected to Jesus—and help fulfill The Great Commission in New Jersey.
The goal of the Kairos network is to plant and recreate ten churches in the New Jersey Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) District within ten years—and one of those will be in a laundromat! To accomplish that goal, the network will develop approximately 300 biblically grounded and culturally relevant church leaders for communities throughout New Jersey.
Leading the church-plant network is Matt Peeples, senior pastor of Bethlehem Church in Ridgewood. Peeples and his team of pastors and volunteers have a four-tear strategy:
- Right person
- Right place
- Right support
- In God’s time (the meaning of the word kairos)
“We will walk alongside church planters to train them in the unique skills necessary for planting a new ministry in a new place,” says Peeples. “We will help them develop community-centered churches that will reach out to the lost. We will also provide these planters with the support they need (theological training, financial support) to plant and grow new or recreated churches.”
The LCMS New Jersey District hasn’t experienced a successful church plant in over 40 years, but that is starting to change. The Kairos Network already has two church plants in the beginning stages of launch.
Pastor Dan Fenco is currently planting a bilingual ministry in Bernardsville, New Jersey, where 17 families are meeting in a home for regular Bible study and worship. They plan to start a laundromat church that will allow them to reach out to other families in the area by meeting a true need in that community. Currently, attending families drive 30 minutes in either direction just to do laundry. This laundromat church will become an outpost for worship, community growth seminars, and an opportunity for regular spiritual conversations and relationships.
Additionally, Pastor Matt Lytikainen is planting Mile Square Church in Hoboken. He has a core of people meeting for regular Bible studies, interest meetings, and other events in that city.
“We live in a culture filled with people who need Jesus,” said Peeples. “The best way to reach new people with the gospel is to plant new churches. In a rapidly changing culture, new churches are uniquely positioned to share the unchanging Gospel in the language of today. “
When a Congregation Ceases
The Kairos Network team understands that God can use the closing of one congregation to start a new chapter for several congregations that will connect the lost to Jesus.
“The reason we replant is because there is no greater purpose than to connect people to God,” Peeples said. “What if closing the doors of a congregation could open the possibility of more people being able to come to Christ? Jesus said we must be willing to die to truly live (John 12:24), to serve in order to truly grow. When things die, resurrection is on the horizon. What is it exactly that is dying? The building isn’t dying. The potential to connect people to God isn’t dying. Replanting is key to our strategy.
“A movement like this is only possible when we all come together to be a part of what God is doing in this place. Planting churches began with the first Christians and continues today—and is an exciting way to be part of what the Holy Spirit is doing to reach the lost in our communities and state. There is no greater purpose than to connect people to God and see them gain eternal life and fulfill their God-given purpose in life. People need the Lord.”
For more information or to connect with the Kairos Network, visit thekairosnetwork.com or contact Pastor Matt Peeples: firstname.lastname@example.org. The Kairos Network appreciates prayer and/or financial support. To give, visit http://supportchurchplanting.com.