South Orange County is a fast-growing, increasingly diverse, and strategic church planting area.
It is a destination area highly desired by growing families, young professionals, and new immigrants. Located halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego, it is the home base for many commuting urban professionals. For those who enjoy the thrills or comforts of recreation, South O.C. is home to many popular surf spots, hiking paths, and bike trails, and it is no more than an hour and a half drive to the nearest desert dunes or lake activities. It enjoys great weather year-round making it a desirable place to visit on vacation or raise a young family. On any given day, you can meet corporate executives, budding entrepreneurs, soccer moms, visiting tourists, veteran surfers, tattooed hipsters, science experts, career artists, or competitive CrossFitters all at the same local coffee shop or bar.
Orange County is an interesting place to do ministry. It’s a hybrid urban/suburban battleground that is known for its cul-de-sac communities and also its cultural influence. The region is saturated with megachurches, and this poses a unique challenge. I’m not anti-megachurch at all (in fact, I got saved at one), but having a lot of big churches and a rich history of evangelical movements (Purpose-Driven, Calvary Chapel, Crystal Cathedral, Vineyard, etc.) has its own subtle side effects. Someone once described Orange County as “the new Bible Belt,” observing that the gospel is now assumed in our churches, not adored. Ours is a consumer-driven, church-hopping society, where many attend church simply because it’s “good for business,” “good for the family,” or “they’ve got good programs.” The gospel—the glorious good news of the crucified and risen Lord Jesus—has sadly been politicized. Many church planters find it difficult to navigate this spiritual climate, and their ministries are short lived.
Fellow O.C. church planter and Acts 29 pastor Nick Bogardus of Cross of Christ Church calls our region “one of the darkest places in America.” He explains, “It is a place marked by a massive population but where people are not really known, a vast culture of consumption but without any kind of genuine fulfillment, and a Christianity that often doesn’t have Jesus.”
This is why several years ago some friends and I committed to meeting regularly to pray for gospel-saturated revival in our area. Psalm 85:6-7 was our cry:
Will you not revive us again,
that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your steadfast love, O LORD,
and grant us your salvation.
Specifically, these prayers eventually led my wife and I to start asking the Lord to send a new church planter to the heart of Rancho Santa Margarita, where I was raised.
Be careful what you pray for! It is through those prayers and an increasing burden for our community that the Lord stirred in us a renewed passion for disciple-making and a specific call to plant a new seed of the gospel in the fertile soil of South O.C. culture.
After a few years of prayer, preparing, and planning, we began to recruit a launch team and raise funds for this new gospel work. Several months ago, we gathered a diverse group of about 25 people (old, young, married, single, white collar, blue collar) and began praying for our community and searching the scriptures for what a faithful New Testament church would look like in our 21st century suburban context.
On Easter of 2017, this group of local missionaries soft-launched King’s Cross Church, so we could worship together regularly on Sundays. We worked our way through Nehemiah, drawing parallels to Nehemiah’s work in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem and Jesus’ greater work in building a new city and a new people, his church. Over the summer we’ve already outgrown the youth chapel we’ve been renting and are now on the hunt for our next, and hopefully more long term, location to meet for regular gatherings. In a few weeks, we baptize a man who grew up in a Mormon home, met Jesus in college, and hasn’t been actively connected to a church or following Jesus in decades until very recently. He’s getting baptized with his granddaughter, who has made her own profession of faith and wants to go public.
We are simply a community of Jesus seeking to join in his mission to multiply disciples and renew the world, starting right here in our neighborhoods. This is why we are grateful for networks like Acts 29 that have a single mission to multiply disciples by planting healthy churches. That’s the kind of shared mission we can get behind. Matt Kyser, my sending pastor and our Acts 29 area lead, once said, “People who really possess the gospel will partner together for the gospel.” That’s why King’s Cross Church is grateful for this gospel partnership. We want to see the lost get saved, the believer transformed, and the fame of Jesus spread as we commit ourselves to that shared mission.
As you think of King’s Cross Church, please pray for us. All of preparing and planning will be fruitless without the Spirit of God building Jesus’ church. As many of you know, church planting comes with intense spiritual opposition, so we are ever more dependent on your prayers for strength, protection, and provision during this season.
Please pray that the Lord would use our young church family to accomplish the gospel mission he has called us to. Pray for the spiritual growth of our team and that the Lord would enable us to engage others and multiply disciples in our community. Pray for continued financial provision to help us meet our first year budget. Pray that the Lord would provide for and secure for us a new location that can hold our growing number of adults and children.
Each year, Acts 29 US West has the joy of funding a number of church plants. King’s Cross Church is one of 17 church plants we’re funding in 2017. You can read about more of these church plants on our blog!