Church Planting Resident Update (Justin Chappell)


Can you believe it? I’m already past the halfway mark in my church planting residency at The Table! But what does that mean? And what’s ahead? Here’s a peek into where we’ve been and where we’re going...

As a refresher, why a church planting residency (see also the FAQ we put out at the start of this journey)? The three-year residency was designed to give me the space and support to plant a church in Longmont. We knew it was essential to “try on” specific aspects of leadership unique to church planting, to listen and learn from the community where we’re planting, and to have financial and relational support from a local church. In many ways, our residency has “hit” most of these marks.

But more than simply checking important boxes along the way, this has been a beautifully formative time. I’m not just a church planter at The Table, I’m one of your pastors - and The Table is our church family. That means our stories are beautifully and inextricably tied together! Yes, The Table is sending us to plant; but, really, you are helping us plant. And we couldn’t imagine doing this any other way...

The early, and ongoing, focus

When we first moved to Longmont we were immediately struck by how great we fit in the community. But an enjoyment of something doesn’t equate to an understanding of it. Sure, we enjoyed Longmont and everything we were experiencing, but in order to love this place well we knew we needed to understand it. We needed to become ‘one of’ the community – and that takes time. So, from the moment we first arrived, we’ve been taking the time to listen, learn, and invest in this beautiful little city. And the residency has given us the space to do this in an unhurried and intentional way.

Why is this important? Because we’re not trying to plant a church that’s simply founded on our good and well-meaning ideas; we’re trying to plant a church with a vision specific to Longmont, unique to the people and stories of this place. In this way, we’re trying to plant with awareness, on a foundation of trust.

Where we’ve been...

While this focus has been running in the background, I’ve also been quite active at The Table. I spent the first 12 months of the residency “trying on leadership unique to planting.” In leading the Neighborhood transition and cohorts relaunch, I had the space to learn how to navigate change - both with vision and through a team. And you’ve probably heard me preach at least a time or two. It’s been a gift to establish good preaching habits and have the space to grow as a preacher before we launch (when I’m doing it every week!). The best part: I’ve been able to do all of this with a community of people that I love deeply. Leading in a vacuum is one thing; leading a community you’re invested in is another. I’m grateful for the ways you’ve not just allowed me to lead, but for your investment in us.

The past 8 months have been much more Longmont-centric. Our first year in Longmont was filled with many new connections, tremendous new friendships, and an abundance of new opportunities to serve the city. Surveying the breadth of this landscape, depth became the necessary next focus. In this way, I’ve mostly become full-time missionary to Longmont over the past 8 months. As such, I’ve been intentional about building trust, learning the stories of this place, and inviting people to taste and see a more true and satisfying story.

Where we’re going...

As you’re aware, church planting demands a level of strategic thinking and planning. As my qualitative (personal/specific) experiences pile up, I’ve begun marrying them with quantitative (objective/big picture) data. This is enabling me to tell a clear and compelling story for why we’re planting a church in Longmont. This also plants the early vision seeds that will eventually grow into more structured vision and values – the unique and specific ways a new church in Longmont will function. I’ll continue to work on these elements through the spring and into the early summer. Then the real fun/crazy begins!

We’re aiming to launch public worship in Longmont in September 2020. Yes, that’s slightly less than 18 months away (!!!), but here’s just a few things that need to happen between now and then: preparing the community for planting; multiple vision meals/parties; gathering and equipping a launch team and staff; and multiple preview services! All that to say: there will be significantly more information to share as we go along!

In more ways than you can imagine, your presence, support, and encouragement have given us a profound amount of confidence and hope. We couldn’t imagine doing any of this without the support and love from The Table - from you. Thank you.

We’re excited about what’s ahead, and we’re eager to share in the joy of it all with you! As always, don’t hesitate with questions!

Much love,

Justin Chappell

P.S. If you’d like to follow along a bit more closely, you can subscribe to my church planting newsletter here, and my prayer newsletter here.