Local Church Planting (Part 1)


Over the last few weeks, we have begun to share a lot about our vision to plant new churches here in the DC area. You may also be aware that the vestry has commissioned the Church Plant Steering Team (CPST) to help guide us in this process. Here is a little bit of information about the Church Plant Steering Team:

Who is on the Church Plant Steering Team (CPST)?

The team is composed of 7 members: Nathan Dickerson (staff), Mike Dodson (vestry), Cindy Darnell, John Foote, Leigh McAfee, Andy Neal, & Megan Westmoreland.

What is the Mission of the CPST?

Our mission is to provide guidance to Restoration as we consider how to implement our vision to plant other new churches in the DC area.

Why plant new churches?

As the CPST has started to discuss this idea of church planting, we have wrestled with some pretty common objections to church planting. For example:

  • “Is it really necessary?” – i.e. It seems like we still have lots of space in the sanctuary for people, and we are already doing lots of great outreach.
  • “But I like Restoration the way it is right now.” – i.e. We are doing really well as a church, so why would we want to mess with a good thing?
  • What if we fail?” – i.e. Lots of church plants do NOT succeed, so why would we want to spend our resources and time on something that might not work out?
  • “Aren’t we already busy enough?” – i.e. Many people at Restoration already feel maxed out, so won’t this just push them over the edge?
  • “It seems like there are already lots of good churches in the DC area” – i.e. Do we really need any more churches?

These are all legitimate questions & concerns, but as a team, we also sensed that there are several good reasons why we should invest significant time and resources into planting new churches.

Here are three compelling reasons why we should get involved with planting new churches:

  1. A Spiritual Reason

We are at a critical moment in the life of our congregation. Over the last 7 years, our church has grown, and matured, and moved into our beautiful new facility. But now, we also face the temptation to get “comfortable”, and to imagine that we have “arrived”.

So, how do we fight this temptation? We resist it by continuing to seek out new challenges & opportunities. This is actually really good for our souls – both collectively & individually. Because new challenges open us up to the reality that we need God to show up for this to work. We can’t do them on our own. So, instead of focusing inward and trying to protect what we already have, what we need to do is to look outward, and trust God by taking risks.

  1. A Practical Reason

There is also a really practical reason to plant new churches. Even though we just built this new building, we are already beginning to run out of space, particularly with our children and youth ministry. This is obviously a great “problem” to have as a church. But if we want to continue to grow and minister to the needs of others, we need to think strategically and wisely about how to do this well. And one key way to address these logistical challenges is by planting new churches.

Moreover, by choosing to plant new churches, we also enable new leaders to emerge and utilize their spiritual gifts. This doesn’t always happen in a larger congregation, where people tend to assume that others will bear the load of leadership. Planting new churches creates lots of opportunities for new leaders to grow and express their gifts – not only in the new congregations, but also in the sending church as well. We want to multiply new leaders by multiplying new congregations.

  1. A Biblical Reason

Yet, perhaps the most compelling reason to plant new churches is simply a biblical one: this is what Jesus commands us to do as his disciples. In Matthew 9:35-38, Jesus looks out at the crowds of people who surrounded him in Jerusalem. And the Scripture tells us that Jesus was “filled with compassion” as he saw “sheep without a shepherd”. Then he asks his disciples to pray because “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few”.

This passage raises a key question for us as a church: Do we have that same compassion, that same vision for people here in the DC area? Do we recognize that many people desperately need a church home (just like Restoration) where they too can grow spiritually and encounter the living Christ?

Our calling as Christians is not merely to think about ourselves and our families & friends, but also to consider the spiritual needs of others. That is why we want to plant new churches here in the DC area.

Some people might wonder, “But aren’t there already lots of churches here in DC?” And the answer is, “Yes, there are lots of good churches.” But we have to recognize that even if every one of those churches was filled to capacity, we could not even begin to keep up with the quickly growing population of our metro area. Therefore, we want to see good churches continue to grow AND we also need to be planting brand new churches as well.

~ Nathan Dickerson

Next time – Our proposed strategy for planting churches? (Part 2)



with the comfort which we are comforted by God


Comfort comes with responsibility.

…the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, SO THAT we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

2 Corinthians 1:4

Comfort is the experience of future hope in the present.  At Restoration, one of our core convictions is that the gospel calls us to lives of responsibility and coherence.  As followers of Jesus we become obligated:  To care.  To see the world the way Jesus sees it.

We embrace Jesus’ instruction that,

…everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required…

Luke 12:48


For most of us who show up on Quincy Street, this church has been a means of God for our comfort.  It is not necessary an alleviation of pain, but it is a clear reminder that God walks with us into it.

When we get here, we look around and we see friends  friendships that have most often been forged in smaller settings:  one on one coffees, play dates between your kids, golf outings;  serving on a team at AFAC, volunteering with RiLA, going with a group to one of our global partners;  pouring over a small group Bible Study, being prayed for after a service, being a volunteer who helps make our liturgy happen. 

You have experienced the comfort of being known, the comfort of friendship, the comfort of being a part of something that is bigger than your single life. 

So, if Jesus and Paul are right…  and we are comforted so that we may be able to comfort others… then one of the most practical ways we can do that is by giving our resources to the establishment of the thing that comforted us.  In our Restoration context, we are responsible to give our time, treasure, and talents to church planting, which is the creation of communities of hope.

To start, over the last couple of years, we have increased our investment in 2 long term projects in Cambodia and West Asia.

Now we are beginning to aim our resources at the possibility of 2 or 3 local church plants in the next few years.  To that end, we have created a Church Plant Steering Team.  This team is seeking to hire a church plant resident in 2017 who would be looking at a church plant location inside the beltway in Maryland or Virginia in a couple years.  All of this has been imagined in our strategic plan called, Restoration 2019.

Every single one of us will be involved in ‘being a comfort’ by praying and giving towards this effort.  Most of us will remain a part of the work God is doing through Restoration on Quincy Street.  But, some of you will go and experience the tangible joy being a comfort by inviting others into an experience of hope.

This is where it gets fun.  


Save the date: Jesse’s getting ordained!


The Ven. Tak Meng, Dean of Cambodia, Revd Stephen Seah, Adelai, Sarah, Clara and Jesse Blaine,  Bishop Rennis Ponniah and Gregory Whittaker, Rector of Church of Christ our Peace

Save the date!

When? 7.30pm THURSDAY Oct 22, 2015

Why? Jesse Blaine’s Ordination to the Transitional Diaconate

Where? Restoration Anglican Church

After party? Sure… come along and we’ll tell you where!

So who is Jesse Blaine?IMG_2772

Jesse and Sarah Blaine have been members of Restoration since the beginning of time… well, at least as long as Restoration has been around … and they are now living and working in Phnom Penh, Cambodia with their two delightful daughters. Read all about them here!

Whilst working for World Orphans and Children in Families in Phnom Penh, Jesse has also been very involved with Church of Christ our Peace, studying for his M.A., and putting in time as a father of two,  and husband to Sarah,  and a friend to many AND simultaneously pursuing a call to ordination which has involved a long and sometimes arduous process (see below) – but to a very good end!

At last (phew!)  the has arrived at the day when he will be ordained: initially to the transitional diaconate, and then, we hope, pray and trust, in ~6-12 months, to the presbytery (i.e. to become a Priest).

So come on by on the 22nd – and pray for this good man to walk into all the ministry opportunities that God has in store.

Come and pray for him to make many friends among the Khmer people.

Come and pray for him and his family, as they dream about planting a church in an area of Phnom Penh near the universities.

And, if you sense you are hearing a call to ministry – come and join in the service of ordination and pray for guidance … and if you remain curious about the process… read on!

So how does the ordination process work at Restoration and in our Diocese?

It all begins when an applicant senses a call to ministry; they then have an initial conversation with Liz Gray (Associate Rector with oversight of all applicants), the Rector and Vestry must also approve, and then an application to the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic (DOMA) would follow.

Liz then works with the applicant to set up a discernment team of 5-7 people who will pray and question and help to work with the candidate over a period of months as to whether they really are hearing a call from God to go down the road to ordination. The path from here on is a rigorous one, and you can read the details here. Suffice to say, nobody is ordained lightly! Not only are we, as the candidate’s home parish, deeply involved, but so is DOMA – the ordination committee has a vital role to play, as does the standing committee – and the Bishop works hard to ensure that all are playing their part to ensure that only those who are truly called by God continue down the path.

The journey always involves study, normally an M Div, as well as studies in Anglicanism, much prayer and thoughtful reflection; as well as multiple check -ins at different points with both Liz and the DOMA examining chaplains and ordination committee.

At different points the aspirant becomes a candidate, then a postulant and finally a deacon (transitional or vocational), before the final hurdles are leapt and ordination to the presbytery (oh, wow, Anglican’s love words….)

At the moment we have three candidates in our church (one preparing for a discernment team,  two awaiting the ordination committee) and one postulant (Morgan Reed). They would all love you to pray for them.

Want to know more? Feel free to reach out to me, and if you would like to support our candidates in any way please let me know!


Imagine Restoration 2019

Imagine 2019


The leadership of Restoration has been working hard to listen to God and articulate to each other the direction and plans that our church should pursue over the next five years.  It has been a deeply satisfying process.  On Pentecost Sunday, June 8, we will present these plans to the congregation and invite us all to respond with renewed faithfulness and joyful expectation.  I hope you can be there.

In order to prepare your heart and mind, here is an invitation to dream, to pray, and to imagine what God might do through us in the next five years.



Restoration 2019:  2000 disciples

We believe that the most effective way to make disciples is to create and strengthen the local church. It is through the church that people who are far from God enter a reconciled relationship with their Father, through trust in his Son Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is through the church that men and women of all ages are able to “grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Ephesians 4:15). It is through the church that we proclaim the Gospel, “warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone  mature in Christ” (Colossians 1:27).

This conviction about the effectiveness of the church compels us to focus our resources on maturing disciples at Restoration and planting churches that proclaim the Gospel and invite people to follow Jesus. During our first five years we focused on planting this one church.  Over the next five years, and dependent on God’s grace and power, Restoration’s goal is to see 2000 disciples of Jesus as a direct result of Restoration’s ministry.  We want to shepherd 1000 of these disciples in our facility on Quincy Street. The other 1000 will find their home in the five or more new churches that Restoration will launch. The next five years will be about maturing disciples at home and planting Gospel-proclaiming churches in our community and beyond.

Imagine. Imagine if Restoration had a clear core curriculum that helped move you deeper into your relationship with Jesus. Imagine a small group track that provided an overview of the Bible and the core convictions of the Apostles’ Creed. Imagine being nurtured in your life of prayer, moving beyond giving a list of requests to God and into a holy conversation. Imagine having access to parenting resources for every stage of your child’s life. Imagine a series of small groups that helped you think Biblically about your vocation, that provided responses to some of the tough questions you get at work, and connected you with other people who are in your field. Imagine having experiences that put you in close proximity with the poor, with kids who need mentoring, with people who have no idea that God loves them. Imagine being formed into a mature disciple through Restoration’s easily-accessed teaching and lived experiences that together help you follow Jesus with all of who you are. 

Imagine. Imagine if Restoration launched churches that exist to make their neighborhoods better places to live. Imagine if five more communities—in the DC area and beyond—had churches that were uniquely framed for their contexts and needs.  Imagine the new disciples that might follow after Jesus because a team of people planted the most effective disciple-making tool there is: the local church. Creating these churches would provide more and more opportunities for people to use their gifts and talents, and Restoration would intentionally develop hundreds of servant leaders.  Imagine the men, women, and children whose lives would be changed because Restoration deliberately, sacrificially, and generously aimed its resources at creating Gospel-proclaiming churches. 

Over the next five years, we will create many opportunities for these dreams to become reality. No two disciples are just alike, and no one path of discipleship and service is right for everyone. We want to provide many ways for people to engage with God and to be transformed for lives of worship and service. Our expectation is that everyone will choose something, and no one will choose everything. We can’t wait to help you choose a path to connect and grow.

Imagine if everyone at Restoration gave one more part of their life to Jesus’ leadership, found one more answer to a question that has been perplexing, spent a little more time with those who are most vulnerable, and rejoiced with great heartiness because of all the folks who found their way home to their loving, heavenly Father. Imagine what Restoration will be like in 2019. 

Where I was this week

This week I was in Miami for a few days to attend a meeting of folks who are considering creating a North American Urban Church Planting Network.  Here are my highlights from the conversation:

  • The attendance was deliberately small.  This allowed great interaction with presenters and other participants.  The content worked because we were able to tailor it with our questions to our particular needs.  I loved that it was a conversation and not just presentations.  These guys are asking the same questions I am asking–  how do we lead sustainable, multiplicative movements that transform the cities where we live?
  • I had a great conversation with Dan Claire, the pastor of Church of the Resurrection in Capital Hill.  I really admire his vision to develop young leaders, to create collegial teams, and to keep multiplying churches in the city.  I felt proud to be an Anglican with him.
  • Appreciated this Tim Keller definition of a ‘city’–  a walkable, mixed us, human settlement.  A city is a place you can live, work, shop, learn, and be entertained within a 10 minute walk.  (TK)  I was renewed in my affection for car-light living.
  • Got to have dinner with Scott and Meg Kelsey–  great to catch up and hear about law school, marriage, and triathlons.

Tim Keller facilitated several of the conversations.

  • First he talked about the future of cities–  especially in North America.

4 opportunities/potentialities/needs:  1.  increased hostility because of culture wars, and fragmentation of political forces  2.  more opportunities for justice and mercy  3. surge of young evangelical believers who are interested in culture-making (like the ArtMusicJustice event or the Andy Crouch lecture at Arlington Cinema Draft House  4. a need for new apologetics.  Christians are perceived as not good urban neighbors because if they increase, they will pass laws that take away rights.

  • The second day, we had a great conversation about the spiritual formation of church planters.  TK shared his ‘plan’ to renew his mind, soul, and body with a strong caveat that this is what works for him and we all need to find our own.  Highlights:


  1. Reads 200 pages a week
  2. Specific parts of his thought life that he daily, numerically tracks.


  1. prays 3.5x a day  [morning, mid-day, evening, with his wife]
  2. uses BCP psalms in morning and evening and the Mc’Cheyne bible reading plan


  1. sleep and exercise plan
  2. eating plan

What I appreciate the most from this is that Tim Keller is legit.  The insights and leadership ideas and illustrations–  they aren’t luck or genetics or some freak spiritual gift.  Tim pursues God in a way that all of us can pursue God–  with deliberate, dogged, perseverance.  We hear God when we create space to listen.  I was re-inspired in my desire to be still before God and to pray.

I’m looking forward to doing that with many of you during Holy Week.  See you then!  Thanks for letting me get away and be a part of this conversation.

The hierarchy of success

Picture 1

The hierarchy of success.

This morning our long range facility team gathered over early pancakes.  Our conversation was focused on big picture hopes and dreams for the building from which we might someday minister.  What do we think is most important–  location, available time, space, catalyst for community?  Obviously we value all of them, but how do we rank them and prioritize so that we can evaluate options that are on the market?  Great conversation.   SMART conversation partners.  BIG GOD with lots of resources.

As I read Seth’s blog post, I realized we were doing what he is talking about:  Practicing the discipline of not jumping to execution, so we can prayerfully listen to God’s direction, strategy, and come in line with his core values for our church.  I am so thankful for this community and the ways I am growing as a leader as I spend time with people way more gifted than I.

Tell us what you think!

Click Here to take survey


Deliberate, specific, and timely feedback is invaluable to a new church. We are about 6 months in to this adventure and now is a perfect time to ask for your thoughts about how things are going. We have developed a survey that will take you about 10 minutes to complete.

As you think about your responses, remember that specific and constructive comments are always more helpful than general and broad.


‘I’d like to see more percussion in our worship music’ is more helpful than ‘the worship music is great.’

‘I’d like David to preach through Romans because I’ve never understood Paul’s thoughts on the future of Israel’ is much more helpful than:  ‘David’s sermons are fine.’

Or: ‘I’d like the website to have a place for weekly announcements’ will assist our thinking more than ‘I love the website…’

You get the idea. If you have had any contact with Restoration, you are invited to take the survey– from those who haven’t missed a Sunday to those who just showed up last week.  All of your feedback is helpful to us.

This survey will be confidential. Although, you will find two questions where we ask you to provide your name and phone number if you want to get involved in an area of ministry.  This information will not be shared with anyone.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us here:  Email Restoration

Click Here to take survey

Practice is almost over…

Practice is almost over…

‘because there are still people in Arlington who are curious…”

As we prayed and gathered our launch team at the end of 2008, there was a united, concerted vision that we were being sent out from The Falls Church to be a missional community in Arlington.  We had asked each other 2 questions…

  1. Do you have relational space to have new friends and welcome people into a new community?
  2. Do you know people in Arlington who might be far from God?  People whom you might invite to experience a new community that is following Christ?

2008 was about praying, talking, and coming to a place where we had a team who said ‘Yes’ to these questions.

On Jan 18, 28 households were commissioned and sent out to practice for a couple months. We needed to get to know our building, get to know each other, build systems for children’s ministry, figure out how to serve communion, see if we had a worship team, try out small groups…

We have been practicing…  and it’s gone very well.   We have grown to about 75 households who are worshipping with us.

Now we are at one of our first crossroads. The ‘practice season’ is about to end:  People are trained to serve, Sunday worship is becoming more ‘normal’ to us, small groups have thrived, there’s money in the bank, and we have teams of people ready to respond to needs as they arise.

God has been very good.  Many people have worked very hard.

At this crossroads, I want to remind us of why we endeavored to start this new church.

Wherever you are reading this–  look around.  Look down your street, look out from your cubicle, glance up from your ‘wireless device’ on the metro, stare at the people on your grocery aisle.  See ’em?

We did this because we felt called by God to be a part of His Restoration project.  We did this because we felt called by God to create a community that would connect people to Him, to others, and to the needs around us.  We did this because there are still people in Arlington who have not met Christ in a life-changing way.

I don’t want us to lose sight of that.  We definitely have a church.  I want us to be a missional community.  We know we can do this.  Now it’s time to open our doors to those around us.

As in all things that are ultimately worth it, this will require change and sacrifice.

  • We need more physical space to invite our friends.  The most efficient way to create this space is to multiply our services.  The cost of service multiplication is ‘the loss of having everyone in the same room.’
  • We will have many more opportunities to serve–  more readers, more nursery volunteers, more small group leaders, earlier arrival times, more parking lot greeters, more coffee…

This Sunday we will finish our Lent series on ‘The Life Jesus Saves.’  We will have an important ‘family meeting’ after our worship service.  If this is your family, please be there. This is the time for us to intentionally close the first season of Restoration Arlington and to intentionally turn our face to what is next.

Practice is over.

‘because there are still people in Arlington who are curious…’

Aloha Wall Street Journal!!

I was excited to be back at Restoration yesterday.  I said this to several people and they said,

“Really?  You’ve been in Hawaii.  Really?”

After thinking about it…


Hawaii was a much needed ‘reset’.  Laurel and I were grateful for the chance to be away, to talk for uninterrupted portions of time(!), to open-water swim in some of the most beautiful open-water there is, and to snorkel!  Highlight was swimming with sea turtles.  This is what it looked like (though not us…)

A good portion of our time was spent at a conference put on by Hawaiian Islands Ministries.  Remarkably, in spite of the beauty and because of the distance and travel expense, there are not many conference resources that are focused on building the local Hawaiian church.  This conference was started about 25 years ago with a vision to bring in great leaders and teachers to edify and encourage local Hawaiian pastors, lay leaders, and youth.  They do a phenomenal job.  Restoration’s own Mary Vinson is the executive director of this ministry and she invited Laurel and I to attend.  It was a great privilege to sit among 3000 Hawaiians as we listened to speakers like Tony Campolo, TFC and IJM’s Gary Haugen, and Pastor John Jenkins (a local DC guy who is off the chain).  Laurel and I attended seminars on marriage and parenting and met folks who are in ministry for the long haul–  very encouraging.

When the Pastor Says It’s ‘A Time to Sow’ – WSJ.com.

This past Friday, Fred Barnes wrote a great article for the Wall Street Journal about the church planting efforts of The Falls Church.  Fred captures the excitement, newness, passion, and entrepreneurial spirit of what we are experiencing each week at Restoration.  I am thankful for this positive story of how God is using our church family in the Metro DC area.  Check it out…

State of the Restoration:  If you are calling Restoration Arlington your home, we will be having a family meeting this Sunday (March 29) after our worship service.  We want to take about 20 minutes to reflect on how the first 2 months have gone.

  • This is the transition point between ‘practicing’ and ‘launching’.  I would like to give some clarity on what that means for our community.
  • Bishop Bena will come on April 5 (Palm Sunday) and we will begin Holy Week.  I’d like to explain Restoration’s vision for worship during Holy Week.
  • Registration for semester 2 of small groups starts on March 29.  Lets talk about how God is using these to connect people to each other.

So plan on joining us for the family meeting.  Kids are welcome!

Glad to be back.


Images of the first day

Our congregation

Childrens Church at Restoration

© Copyright Restoration Anglican Church