The Christian Church was designed from the first to be aggressive. It was not intended to remain stationary at any period, but to advance onward until its boundaries became commensurate with those of the world. It was to spread from Jerusalem to all Judea, from Judea to Samaria, and from Samaria unto the uttermost part of the Earth. It (the church) was not intended to radiate from one central point only, but to form numerous centers from which its influence might spread to the surrounding parts. (Charles Spurgeon)
About two years ago a young couple came into contact with one of our missional communities or ‘families’ in The Venue Church, Hattiesburg, MS. They were exploring faith and looking for a purpose in life. Through a strong network of relationships, they began to grow in their understanding of the gospel, the role of community and the radical calling Jesus issues to his disciples. As a church, we were able to celebrate their marriage. In time we began to train them as missional family leaders. Recently they were commissioned to join one of our short-term mission teams to East Asia. They were off to share the gospel with those who have never had the chance to hear of Jesus.
One of our greatest challenges is the contrast between religion and a true relationship with Jesus.
This story encapsulates some of the key features of our vision for The Venue Church. We are a diverse church located in historic downtown Hattiesburg. One of our greatest challenges is the contrast between religion and a true relationship with Jesus. It sometimes feels as if the buckle of the Bible belt latches in the state of Mississippi. At the same time, Hattiesburg is one of the more progressive cities in the Southeast, largely due to the transient nature of the city’s residents. This melting pot of cultures, beliefs and nationalities brings its own challenge to the church. Our task is not only to engage the ‘Christ-haunted’ south with the true gospel, but also to display the beauty of Christ’s bride to the diverse and divided people of our city. Our prayer is that God would continue to call out from this multicultural population, a transcultural community of people – people who are no longer defined by their background, but by our common need for the grace of Jesus.
From the beginning, The Venue Church has existed to cultivate followers of Christ in the context of gospel-centered communities. That’s our heartbeat: the multiplication of gospel-centered communities for the global glory of God.
A training environment is key to this. We want the church to grow towards maturity in Christ and multiply disciples. So, to drill deeper and reach wider, we’ve launched a church-based theological training platform called The Venue Training Institute, using the resources of Acts 29’s Porterbrook Network. The aim is to equip the saints theologically while striving to see growth in holiness. Knowledge gained through the Institute doesn’t terminate in the head, but serves as a catalyst to motivate the heart and hands into missional engagement.
We’re also developing both a domestic and global church-planting residency. To widen our impact, we want to raise up church planters to reach unreached populations throughout North America and across the globe.
We cannot fulfil the Great Commission in silos.
Our ability to accomplish such a large calling would be impossible without kingdom partnerships. We cannot fulfil the Great Commission in silos. From the birth of The Venue Church, Acts 29 has partnered with us. Acts 29 churches in our region have invested in our church. And now Acts 29 connections are helping to deploy gospel workers around the world, from Portland and Los Angeles all the way to emerging regions in Asia and Africa. From the deep-end of the gospel pool in the Southeast United States, Acts 29 has enabled us to dig deep channels across the world to allow the currents of the gospel to flow to parched peoples who have not experienced its power. Our church is enriched beyond measures from the stories of God’s faithfulness told by our teams and planters who have gone to California, Oregon, South-East Asia, South Asia, Dubai, Africa, and Canada.
The Venue Church covets your prayers as we enter into a new phase as a church family. In February we launched ‘The Multiply Project’ with the aim of sending out as many church planters as possible into ‘gospel voids’.
- Pray for our church planting teams who have moved to Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. Pray that God would constantly remind that Jesus is worth the sacrifices they have made.
- Pray that God would raise up many missional families throughout Hattiesburg, MS, so, in partnership with other churches in our area, we see a gospel movement the like of which has not been seen in our lifetime.
- Pray that God would call church planters from our church who are willing to relocate to unreached populations across the globe.
- Pray that we would find our niche in the Acts 29 family, making much of the name of Jesus and focusing little on the name of The Venue Church.
Is church planting hard? You bet it is! But when I see God not only saving a searching couple, but then giving them a heart for the lost peoples of this world, when I hear them expressing the brokenness they feel for those have never had a chance to hear about Jesus, the process is completely worthwhile.