In January of 2021 Journey made a radical change: We stopped being a local church to instead serve to help foster a regional movement.
Why did we do it and what’s the difference?
Journey was launched in 2018 to prepare new wineskins for the new wine. The Lord spoke to us and said that he’s getting ready to do something unprecedented in Rochester and church as we know it is not able to contain it.
We launched a new church with a focus on the people and not the platform. As much as we said, Church was never intended to be a service in a building but a people on a mission, we found it difficult to break away from being just that. And we knew we weren’t hitting the center of the target.
At the end of 2019, we sensed God saying that he was going to completely transform us. The traditional model of church, as much as we loved it and as much good that it has done, had some inherent flaws:
The biggest problem with how we’ve done church is that it’s shifted our focus from a community of people who love Jesus, who are called and empowered to reach our city, to a congregation of people whose principal goal is to attend (and support) a service. Instead of a body of believers engaged in the work of the kingdom, we’re an audience watching the preachers perform.
The Sunday morning service has sucked up all of the oxygen from the body. Our time, energy and money are spent to support a Sunday service instead of reaching lost people, feeding the hungry, clothing the poor and making a difference in our community. We have great buildings and great services, but are we really making a great difference?
We are divided. There are hundreds of thousands of believers in our area but we’re broken up into a thousand small bands of believers who meet in a bubble and are leery of doing anything together. We can’t go to that church’s event because we don’t want to be disloyal to our church or let them think that we want to join their church.
We have reached a point where more than half of the body of Christ has disengaged from church. For various reasons, some good and some not, there are now more believers in Jesus in our region who have decided they are done with church.
To be clear, they’re not really done with church; they’re done with the model of church that we’ve known. They still want to experience community with other believers. They just don’t want to be part of an organized local church anymore.
And we need to stop making them feel like the Prodigal Son. They haven’t left the Father; they just don’t want to be around their judgmental older brother anymore.
So our focus now is encouraging the church at large, without being a “church” (as we know it). We believe that regardless of what congregation you’re a part of – or if you’ve given up on that completely – you are still the church. All of us are. And we need each other.