By Tim Lubinus
A few years ago we started a new church in a neighborhood of Istanbul, Turkey, that had nearly one million people. As far as we knew there was only one other small protestant church in the area. When the new church started, we received a call from the leadership of the existing church asking why we would start in their neighborhood without first talking to them. I learned two lessons from this: 1) No matter how many unreached people there are in an area and how small the existing church is, the church can feel uneasy about a new congregation in the area, 2) No matter how distant the relationship with the existing church, it is a good practice to first connect with existing church leadership for fellowship, prayer, and understanding.
My hero in the welcoming of new churches in Iowa is Todd Stiles of First Family Church in Ankeny. Before Cornerstone Church of Ankeny started near First Family Church two years ago, Cornerstone’s leadership met with Todd and found him welcoming and encouraging. When the new church started, it became obvious that Todd had encouraged all of the First Family staff to do whatever they could to help the new church to start well. Two years later, I spoke with Todd about that. He thought that Ankeny needed at least one more similar church in the area to better reach the people of Ankeny. This is a great example of a pastor’s priority to reach the people of his city rather than just see his own congregation grow, and it reveals his heart of service for other churches even if they are located near his own.
Question? Comments? Email me directly at TLubinus@BCIowa.org.