I remember the first morning I woke up after I had moved to Syracuse, NY. My family had spent the previous year discerning the Spirit’s voice with friends, family and our faith community. My wife and I had served in full-time vocational ministry for 15 years, and we were sensing a growing call to start a new faith community in our hometown and now here we were.

Ready to Take on the World

I might be the oddball, but I didn’t wake up that first morning ready to take on the world. I woke up with the realization that I didn’t know how to do what had been swirling around in my head. Now I wanted to go back to bed and pretend we’d never made this decision.
Neither of us had jobs. We were sleeping in someone’s basement while our stuff was in storage and we felt utterly alone without a sending church or denominational support.
I read hundreds of books, attended my fair share of conferences, and had fairly fruitful pastoral journey up to that point. Stepping into the unknown of planting a missional, incarnational, communal church in the heart of a post-Christian city was not going to happen through my sheer brilliance and theological acumen.
As Jesus modeled for us kenosis (Phil 2), the setting aside of glory for the sake of God’s mission, we were being invited into the same movement. God wanted to empty us of ego and performance to join Christ in the universal pattern of death and resurrection. God wanted to birth something new but not without us letting go of notions of success.

Seminary Wasn’t Enough

The majority of my seminary education did not prepare me for the on-the-ground work we were facing. I knew how to preach a good sermon, but I had not exercised the muscles of disciple-making, creating belonging in community, guiding people into the garden of their neighborhood, and equipping them for the movement of Jesus.
So, I reached out to my bookshelf for help because that’s what academics do and God’s Spirit gently stopped my hand. Books are great, but I began to realize I needed hands-on training and coaching for a mission in which old maps no longer worked. I needed to open myself up to new practices, unfamiliar exercises for developing the people of God to be present in God’s world in their local places.

More Than a Grand Launch

I’m convinced we need to start new churches that move beyond a grand launch Sunday with a great preacher, a good band, a bunch of candles, and an attractive children’s ministry. The church is twisting and turning under the pressure to be relevant and more attempts to be relevant are not the answer. Our neighborhoods need community-organizers that gather people into God’s mission through the ongoing incarnational work of Jesus. Church Planting must be informed by the humble way of our Messiah.
The church is twisting and turning under the pressure to be relevant and more attempts to be relevant are not the answer. Click To TweetThis might sound like a pithy statement, but it’s a dynamic and painful process. Leadership in this way requires a re-learning of what made the first Century church so movemental. God wants to birth something new and vital but the labor process can be intimidating.
This is why I’m so thoroughly passionate about The V3 Movement. The V3 Movement is a training network that deeply understands the terrain of mission in the West. Every year V3 coaches church planters all over North America, from places like Seattle to Miami, from Honolulu to Toronto, from L.A. to New York, and from Dallas to Atlanta enter into a 9 month cohort through eight competencies:

  • Movement Intelligence
  • Polycentric Leadership
  • Being Disciples
  • Making Disciples
  • Missional Theology
  • Ecclesial Architecture
  • Community Formation
  • Incarnational Practices

V3 believes that though the church is struggling, the church is not an archaic construction. What Jesus started with his disciples 2000 years ago is vitally needed in the 21st century.

A Relational, Holistic Tribe

I know in my own church planting journey I needed a relational tribe to tether myself to. I needed good coaching and honest feedback. I needed someone to share my contextual struggles with and to find meaningful friendships for the journey. This is what V3 offers in its holistic approach.
In my own church planting journey I needed good coaching and honest feedback. Click To Tweet

Multiple Diversities

One of the unique joys of V3 is the diversity of people who lead church plants. We have gender and ethnic diversity as well as people who are rooted in various traditions, including Presbyterian, Baptist, Anglican, Pentecostal, Reformed and Anabaptist. We believe God’s mission needs all of God’s people, which is why women must be at the table, bringing their full gifts and wisdom to bear on the future of the church. When we have Black, White, Asian and Hispanics participating in planting movemental churches, we reflect the reconciling nature of the gospel and become a preview of God’s future.
Our unifying glue is that we rally around the essentials of being a movemental-incarnational church yet the expression of our churches are robust with cultural diversity and theological diversity.
Right now the V3 Movement is accepting applications for its Fall cohort. As one who is still a church planter, I know that isolation is the worst thing for starting a new missional church.
The journey is precarious and belonging to a family of planters that empathizes is necessary for survival. But we need to go beyond just surviving, we need to discover the grassroots work that helps us thrive in the landscape of our cities. Consider diving into the V3 Movement to discover how to start and sustain a new kind of church.

About the Author

Dan White Jr.

Dan co-planted Axiom, a faith community in Syracuse, NY with the compelling commitments of tight-knit community, locally-rooted presence, and life-forming discipleship. He works as a consultant and missional coach with the V3 Movement. He also co-founded The Praxis Gathering. Dan is the author of Love Over Fear: Facing Monsters, Befriending Enemies, and Healing Our Polarized World ,Subterranean , and co-author of The Church as Movement winner of InterVarsity Press Book of the Year 2017. Dan is married to Tonya, dad to Daniel and Ari, and can be found enjoying conversations at Salt City Coffee.

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