Why Whitestown?

I am so incredibly excited to be sharing with you about the grand endeavor that God has been preparing Chassity and me for over the last few years, and the work and preparation that has taken place in the last 6 months.

We are a part of the work of planting a new community of faith (church) in Whitestown, Indiana in conjunction with the Church Development team of the Indiana United Methodist Church. Over the coming weeks, through blog posts and videos, we’ll continue to share more and more about the mission God has given us, the vision we are so excited about, what values we are seeking to instill in the DNA from the get-go, about the process of planting itself, and ways in which you can be involved. So, one of the questions you may be asking yourself is, “Why Whitestown?” or maybe even, “Where on earth is Whitestown, Indiana?!” First, Whitestown, Indiana is a small, but rapidly growing town located in Boone County, Indiana, just northwest of Indianapolis. Whitestown was named after Albert S. White, a politician, abolitionist, and president of the railroad that ran through the sleepy little town. For most of its history, Whitestown was like many little midwestern farm towns, where farms got bigger and the population got smaller, but about 18 years ago that all began to change due to the town’s proximity to I-65, which connects to the growing metropolitan centers of Indianapolis and LaFayette (home of Purdue University). Sitting on the south end of Boone County, and just west of the growing suburb of Zionsville (another former farm town), developers began building on the abundant and affordable land. This effort slowed during the recession, but since 2012 has rapidly picked up pace, becoming the fastest growing town in the state of Indiana. The population has grown from 2,867 in 2010 to 7,814 in November of last year, and is on pace to likely double again in the next 10 years! Now, let’s pause for a second. The fact that Whitestown is a growing community is a big flag waving to me, and hopefully to you too, screaming, “Come here!” God’s heart is for people. He loves them, and he calls Christians to love them as well and reach out to them. When new people move into new places, it creates a need for new faith communities and new spaces to connect and engage with those coming into the area, that they might know Jesus and experience the love, transformation and new life that only comes through Him. Now, you might be thinking, “Aren’t there already churches in the area to do just that?” I’ll tackle this question more in a later post, but without unpacking it all, you might be surprised to know that new churches actually reach more unchurched and dechurched people (people who didn’t grow up in church or have left the church) than established churches. The community of Whitestown is full of people just like this. In the area, 53.7% of residents are not involved in any community of faith at all, regardless of religion, and on any given Sunday only about 26% of residents attend a worship service. While the statistics show there is not a high level of hostility toward Christianity or the church, the majority of people simply remain unaffiliated and uninvolved. Many of those moving into Whitestown are young professionals buying their first home and/or starting a family, and the average age is one of the lowest in the state, at 30.7 years of age. Further, those moving into the area don’t just come from adjacent municipalities, but come from across the state and the country, drawn by the growing industries in Indy and LaFayette. For this reason, Whitestown has the highest level of ethnic diversity of any Indianapolis suburb, far exceeding the state average, with 5.6% African American, 6.4% Asian, and 79% caucasian. This burgeoning community is developing, and by that I don’t just mean housing subdivisions. I mean that the community itself, the relationships, structures and social systems/networks, are new or absent. This great blend of people aren’t joining an entirely established community. They are building a new one as we speak. This is a fascinating and exciting thing to see. Many local onlookers in adjacent communities eye up the area and debate what it will become. Will it develop its own local culture and customs, or will it end up more of just an area where people are largely segmented and separated? That is still up in the air, but the way I see it, we have the unique privilege of joining the community and helping shape it as a more just, more loving, more creative, and more vibrant place, the kind of place God hopes it might become. Simply put, Whitestown is a land of opportunity. Not only are there numerous people who do not know the life-changing, transforming, awe-inspiring love of God, but there is the chance to help contribute to this growing community in a redemptive way, a way that puts it on a trajectory that is better for its citizens, the county, and the Kingdom of God. So what’s next? In the coming weeks we will be sharing more about our heart for this community and ways you can come alongside us in prayer and service. We invite you to not only pray for us and this community, but also ask God how you might be a part of this great adventure for His glory.

(If you’d like references for any of these statistics, just ask and I’ll send you a link, or you can Google it, which would likely be quicker)
 
– Seth

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Roots

Why Rooted?

Roots

One of the most famous lines in Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet is, “What is in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” In the play, Juliet utters the line arguing that the family name of Romeo shouldn’t be a barrier to her loving him.

Now, from that, we might think to ourselves, “She is saying that a name doesn’t really matter.” However, I think the truer point is that a name should not be a barrier or prevent relationship because when you get down to it a name really does matter.

Today, this concept is incredibly important in how we name Christian events, ministries, and even churches. It is something we kept in mind as we discerned the name of the new community of faith God is bringing about in Whitestown, Indiana. Through prayer and study of scripture, we sought a name that would help build bridges within the community and express the identity of the church.

It is very similar to when you name a child. Now, many people think primarily of how a name will sound or how unique it is–and those aren’t bad things to consider–but historically, children have been given names that are supposed to encompass part of the desired identity of the child.

For the ancient Hebrews, the giving of a name was something that was incredibly important. It wasn’t just what something someone was called by. It was a statement of their identity, of who they were at their core. Similarly, I believe that when you name a child, you want to choose a name that is important to you, that has value, and a name that you hope the child will live into.

That is what Chassity and I did last year as we prepared for our daughter to arrive. We named her Evelyn, a name which means “radiance” and “beauty”, in honor of another wonderful sweet little girl whose beautifully radiant life ended in an accident. It is a name with purpose and meaning.

I think the same goes for naming a church. We not only think about what sets the church apart, but we pray about who God is calling this new community of faith to be, what kind of character He desires for it, and who it will truly honor.

With that in mind, I am proud to say that the name of our church is Rooted Community Church. As we began to picture what God was calling this new faith community to be, God began to direct our hearts toward a particular scripture and a word: “rooted”.

The first part of our name comes from Colossians 2:6-7, which reads, “6 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. 7 Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” (NLT)

Being rooted is so important for plants. Roots not only give a plant its sustenance, but they anchor it firmly in the soil. If a plant is rooted in the wrong place, it will easily be scorched by the sun in the heat of the day or washed away by the first rainstorm.

And friends, if we’re honest, so often we are tempted to build our lives on so many different things—our jobs, our relationships, our wealth, or whatever—but there is only one thing our lives were meant to be built upon—only one place to take root, and that is in Jesus Christ. He is the only one who anchors us, who gives us life. He is the one our hearts truly long for.

The same things go for the Church. Church isn’t about the building you meet in or your worship style. It isn’t about your denomination or affiliation. It is about Jesus! Our desire is that this new community of faith is firmly rooted in Christ. Nothing less.

The second part of our name is “Community.” Why? Because that is what church is supposed to be about, in more ways than one. A church is a community of followers of Jesus Christ bound together in mission and ministry. It isn’t just a worship service you attend once a week or even a set of programs and activities.

God made us for relationship: Relationship with himself and relationship with others. So when we decide to follow after Jesus as our Savior and Lord, we not only are called into relationship with God but also with others, to be a part of a church community. There simply is no such thing as a solitary Christian. We need each other. We want to band together as part of a church, and including “Community” in the name is a reminder of this.

At the same time, the name reminds us that we are to be outwardly focused, that we are about more than ourselves. We are called by God to care about our broader community of Whitestown and beyond and seek its well-being. Non-Christians tend to instinctively get this fact since polls have shown that they are most open to checking out a “community” church rather than one that puts the emphasis on its denomination.

It is our hope that the name “Rooted Community Church” would be a bridge to build relationships and not a barrier to others in experiencing the amazing transformation that God offers us through Jesus. We hope and pray that as this community begins to sprout, it will live into the fullness of the character and identity God desires for it. We invite you to join in praying for this with us, no matter where you are.

If you are nearby, we’d like to invite you to join us for one of our upcoming prayer walks around the different neighborhoods of Whitestown, which we’ll be posting more info on soon.

For other ways you can get involved, you can head on over to our “Get Involved” section and learn how you can join with us.

Thank you for reading and partnering with us in the amazing adventure.


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