I started Mission Glue for one reason: to help church planters plant healthy reproducing churches. One way to do that is to hear from practitioners. I want to hear from church planters who are actually planting churches. You may not have heard of them but they have learned a ton and can teach us much.
I recently had the privilege of talking to Matt Miller, Lead Planter of New City Church in Shawnee Mission, Kansas.
I first met Matt when he arrived at Restore for a Leadership Residency. Matt had been on staff at a mega-church in Miami Florida. Through relationships with people in Kansas City, Matt moved his family to the Kansas City area with a dream of planting a church for people far from God.
Matt spent 10 months as a Leadership Resident with Restore. During his time he did everything right in my opinion. He attended assessment. He leaned into the phases of the residency. He remained teachable and worked hard to reproduce small groups and teams. This set him up for a strong launch. During the course of his residency, Matt and I became great friends–at least that’s what he tells me! More importantly, I think I learned as much from Matt as he did from us.
Three churches and one church planting group in the Kansas City area pooled resources and relationships to help Matt launch New City.
Olathe Bible Church
The Heartland Project
Restore Communtiy Church
The start of New City is a great examples of churches and networks working together to plant new churches.
New City launched in January 2012. While Matt is the lead planter, he will be the first to tell you he hasn’t done any of it alone. He was joined by his friend Chris Moix and his family. They hired Tiffany Mills and others. New City launched strong and they’ve gained a ton of moment since. Chris transitioned from the business world into ministry.
New City is a New Thing church.
I am grateful for my friendship with Matt. He has a passion for Jesus and wisdom beyond his years. It was a great day when he and his family decided to move to Kansas City. I am humbled by the opportunity to interview him for Mission Glue. I know we will all be inspired and encouraged by his story.
What circumstances led you to believe God was calling you to plant a church?
I was asking God what was next for me in back in 2009, over the next year, God directed my steps to planting a church. Proverbs 3:5-6.
Describe the cultural ethos of your church plant.
New City was started to inspire you to trust in and live like Jesus. We focus on three key areas: Sunday Celebration (create an environment where people can “taste and see that the Lord is good.”, Discipleship (provide a clear pathway that moves people to a fuller understanding that Jesus is Lord.) And, Missional Life (to be a people on mission of bringing Kingdom (prosperity, justice and integrity) to our city. To start a movement!)
How are you serving the community?
New City is fully engaged in our community. In our first year we hosted over 75 community events. We now have 3 school partnerships (all schools in our local community) and very close to having a 4th. The schools are Shawanoe and Nieman Elementary and Trailridge Middle School. Working on Comanche Elementary. Also, every Friday we open up our facility (are you proud I didn’t say our church), that used to be a theatre, and we provide a free new dvd release family movie, free popcorn, free soda. Also, during the movie we host ELL classes and open up our food pantry. On a typical Friday night we will have over 200 of our neighbors come to the movie. Lastly, we always do our best to inspire people to take the Kingdom to their world.
How are you developing people? Staff, volunteers, launch team?
This is our weakest area. We move too fast, and at times make unwise leadership selections. We strive to practice the “I do You watch” model that I picked up from Restore Community Church. However, having this a core piece of our leadership development culture has been difficult. That being said, we have a ton of volunteers. It takes around 60 volunteers to make each of our services meet our standards. We currently have very little “gaps” and are working to filling 60 more spots as we prepare to start our 12:30 service on Easter Sunday. Our communication to our volunteers happens like this: Staff…Ministry Leader…Ministry Specific Service Coordinator…Volunteers for that hour. We host a Leadership Community 6 times a year that brings all of our volunteers together. Each Ministry Leader has a monthly meeting with his/her key leaders. I have a 1-on-1 with each Ministry Leader.
What have your learned about raising funds for your project that can help the rest of us?
We raised over $500,000 prior to launch. Rule #1. Give people the chance to say “No.” Don’t assume they will, you must ask! Rule #2. Don’t let the only time you talk to people is when you’re asking for money…nobody likes that guy. Rule #3. Change the world with their money and then tell/show them what you did. Rule #4. Always, always ask:)
How is your family part of your church planting adventure?
My wife is on staff with us. My kids are in charge of messing up Kid City.
What is/was the great challenge you faced planting your church and how did you overcome it?
For me it was faith. Faith in God and faith in myself. Does God really want me to do this…Can I really do this. I leaned on the story of Abraham, he believe in a God that could raise dead things back to life and make something out of nothing. That’s where I was when I started…just me and my family. No staff, no team, no volunteers, no people. But my faith was strong…I believed that God could. And, He is!
Who inspires you and why?
Constantly see God being faithful to His promises! When we seek Kingdom above else and live righteously He will give you everything you need. Matthew 6:33.
How are you caring for yourself while planting?
Great question. Planting has forced me to add daily solitude to my schedule. Every night, after we put the kids to bed, I spend about 20-30 minutes in my hot tub. This is where I hear from God. Where I pray. Where I complain. Where I cry. Where I sit still and decompress. My hot tub (solitude) saves my life. Allows me to be a focused husband, dad, leader, and pastor.
Do you have a plan for planting more churches/campuses etc. What is it?
Yes. We are set to start our next New City on Easter Sunday 1014. We are leaning towards the community around Comanche Elementary, but this isn’t a for sure…you have to hold your dreams loosely and let God guide your steps.
If you could ask a church planter you don’t know one question, what would it be?
Tell me how you currently: spend your money, love your neighbors, lead your family, handle conflict? Based on their answer I can see what kind of church they will plant.
Just for fun: What is your favorite band and why?
Right now I’m diggin’ Burno Mars’ new album, Unorthodox Jukebox. It makes me smile.
What question should I have asked you that I didn’t?
What would you do different? I would not put those who are spiritually immature in places of leadership. It has cost me valuable time and emotional energy.
You can keep up with all that’s going on at New City here. Will you do me a favor and pray for Matt and the New City team today.
Are you planting a church or missional community? I’d love to talk to you about it! Leave a comment and I’ll get back to you. If you dig the content of Mission Glue you can subscribe here.