The Inflection of 2019
Restoration began almost ten years ago, in 2009, as a small group of 70 adults and kids who were aware of our brokenness, aware of our need for friendship, and thoughtful about how a new church community might be formed in Arlington County.
During the summer of 2014, five years into our existence, we completed a brand new, $4.6M building. While contractors were building our facility, our vestry and leaders were building a strategic plan that would guide the next 5 years of our life together. We wanted to move back onto Quincy Street with a sense of urgency: to serve our neighbors, to disciple people in their relationship with Jesus, and to plant churches. We imagined that we might be a part of making 2000 disciples by the year 2019: a thousand of them in our weekly worship and small groups around Quincy Street and a thousand through five church plants in the DC area and around the world. It was a huge goal and it framed almost all of our subsequent conversations about plans, budgets, and ‘next steps’. I am grateful for the leaders, volunteers, and staff who were willing to take it on.
We can now see 2019 on the near horizon. It seemed so far in the distance when we first moved back into our building. How did we do with our strategic plan? What did God do in and through our church? We are beginning to ask those evaluative questions. The easiest place to start is the numbers. We keep careful track and they are objective in their clarity.
2014 Hope: We want to shepherd 1000 coherent, fully-integrated disciples in our facility on Quincy Street.
2018 Reality: There are about 600 adults and children who worship on Quincy Street each Sunday.
We had a significant jump in attendance in 2014 when we moved into our building. From 2014 until today, our attendance has continued to grow but at a flatter rate: from 507 to 580 over 4 years (about 5% growth rate annually). We expect to be over 600 in 2019. In addition, these increases represent the net change in people– they mask the turnover of people coming and leaving at Restoration (which is over one hundred people annually). As a result of this turnover, there are well over a thousand people who have worshiped and served with us in the last five years. We thank God for everyone who continues to worship with us- and for those who have come and left. Based on our current reality, it seems unlikely that we will grow another 66% to 1,000 worshippers by 2019.
2014 Hope: We want to shepherd 1000 disciples through five 200 person church plants.
2018 Reality: We have been involved in four church planting initiatives. Are you aware of all of them?
- Incarnation Anglican Church is a church plant in the most traditional sense of the term. Restoration identified and developed three leaders: Rev. Liz Gray, Rev. Morgan Reed, and Amy Rowe. We encouraged them to gather a launch team, to find a new worship location, to build the initial infrastructure that would support a new church community. They have done that with excellence and skill. On Sept 2 we will pray for their team of over 50 adults and children and send them out to establish this new work. We are grateful for their courage, grateful for the generosity of Restoration to provide people and resources, and grateful to God for the opportunity to be a part of something new in South Arlington. Incarnation is our first local church plant. Thanks be to God.
- Phnomh Penh. We sent Jesse and Sarah Blaine to Cambodia in 2012. They have learned the language and made a home there. Jesse did seminary from a distance and then was ordained by Bishop John Guernsey in 2016. Jesse is the leader of a Khmer-speaking congregation and is hoping to plant another Khmer congregation in their city. Restoration helped the Blaines to discern their call. We have supported them financially and we have refreshed them with visiting teams from our church. It has been a privilege to be a part of this new work in Cambodia.
- West Asia. For about 3 years, Clay was on our staff team as a priest and Director of Youth Ministry. In 2016, we sent him and his family to live in a strategic city in West Asia and to think about how to serve Christ and His Church. They have learned the language. They have made friends and put their kids in school. Clay has been given the opportunity to take on leadership of a faithful church. We have supported them financially and we are grateful to be a part of a steady work of God that is being regularly strengthened with new people and opportunities.
- Bolivia. Over the last 4 years, Restoration has been sending a team of people to Cochabamba each summer to encourage the people of La Trinidad Anglican Church, to pray for and support the children of Niños con valor, and to teach on topics that help people grow closer to God. As we have come alongside the leadership of La Trinidad, we have gotten the opportunity to support their church plant in the town of Puntiti. It has been yet another way for Restoration to learn about church planting- not by leading it ourselves, but by partnering with those who live there and offering whatever resources we have to the endeavor.
I submit that Restoration’s involvement in these 4 ministry initiatives happened BECAUSE we embraced a strategic plan that had a huge goal for church planting. We were attuned to ideas that could become church plants. We were full of prayer for brave initiatives to start new church communities. The goal of five 200 person church plants served us well— even though we fell short of the actual numbers.
The strategic plan of 2000 disciples served us well: We were ready for the growth that comes with a new building. We were looking outward for opportunities to start new initiatives.
We are turning to a new chapter…
The leadership of Restoration is beginning to explore the opportunities that God is bringing to us for the years to come. By the end of 2019, we would love to have a new strategic plan that would take us to Restoration 2025. Here are some of the things we have identified as potential areas of focus. There could be more. I hope you will bring them to our Vision Night on September 6.
- Evangelism in Arlington County. Inviting our friends and peers to consider a relationship with Jesus that makes a difference in their life. We recognize that the opportunities around us for evangelism are huge. There is so much misunderstanding about Jesus. There are so many people living along Route 50, along the Orange Line, along Washington Boulevard, along Lee Highway… As a church, we believe evangelism is important, but the activity of invitation has been a challenge for us.
- On November 22, 2019 we will turn 10! We need to celebrate! We need to party! What would be an appropriate expression of gratitude to God for all he has done in our church? What are the stories we need to tell? Who are the people we need to remember and thank?
- We are completing our first local church plant launch. We could do more. There are other clergy who would like to join our staff as potential church planters or leaders in training. What would be the location for the next church plant? Who would be on the launch team? How many more local church plants should we pursue?
- We want to help people grow deeper. It’s not enough to just have bodies at Quincy Street, we want people to grow as coherent, fully-integrated disciples…. We are working to memorialize and clarify the communication about how our church grows disciples. It has taken us a while to learn how we do what we do- what are the programs and opportunities that have been most effective for disciple-making at Restoration? What do we mean by ‘coherence’ and ‘integration’ in our Arlington context? This fall we are excited to present a descriptive document called ‘Finding Your Place in God’s Story’. It describes the traits of a coherent, fully-integrated disciple and it highlights the opportunities Restoration provides to help you grow in them. We think it will be a help to people who are wanting to plug in to our community.
- We have a mortgage. In our first capital campaign, we raised about half of the cost of our building. Our mortgage originally had a balance of $2.4 million, and we have paid about $0.5 million in principle and interest since then. It will be due in 2023. If we continue on our current course of payments, we will owe about $2M. This debt would either need to be re-financed or paid off with a capital campaign, or some combination thereof. Alternatively, with some significant changes in our giving or spending habits, it is possible to adjust our current course of payments and seek to pay off the $2M from our operating and building funds over a 5 year period without re-financing or a having capital campaign. The discernment of the right course of action needs to happen presently.
- We love Spanish speakers. We have sung songs with Spanish lyrics. We have served people who speak Spanish who are working through the immigration process (RILA). We have partnered with Casa Chirilagua by providing financial contributions, tutors, staff mentorship, and prayers. We have sent over 40 people to Bolivia on short term teams. God is bringing us opportunities to serve and build relationships with people whose first language is Spanish. What should we do next? Should we have songs in Spanish more regularly? Should we think about hosting a Eucharist service in Spanish? What role should Spanish play in our strategic plan?
- We are at a transition point with the leadership of our outreach strategy. Liz Gray did a uniquely incredible job of laying a foundation of partnership both locally and around the world. We have not found a point person to build on this particular part of Liz’s legacy. What should Restoration outreach look like in the next 5-6 years?
Restoration Vision Night: September 6, 7-9pm
This reflection is designed to get the gears of your soul moving. As you pray and think about the things that God is doing in our church, what are the images, words, and Scriptures that come to mind? What gets you excited? What is not included but needs to be? What do you want to see happen?
There will be opportunities to share your thoughts verbally on Sept 6. You can also write them to me.
Vision Night will be the first of a few. Join us in giving thanks for all that God has done. Join us in listening for all that He wants to do next.