Planting a Church in Washington DC
We love Pastor Josue Urrutia and the name he chose for his congregation: Future Church.
This is Pastor Josue’s second church plant—he started his first congregation when he was nineteen years old! He was also elected to the board of directors for the National Hispanic Christian Leaders Conference (NHCLC).
And in 2014, Christianity Today named Pastor Josue to their 33 under 33 list.
When he started Future Church, Pastor Josue called ArtSpeak Creative to walk him through the branding process. We presented several logo ideas for him, but our design team had a favorite—one we thought would really push the envelope.
We agreed: If they pick this one, they really are Future Church.
Josue said, “I’m very young in age, but I’m an old guy in my soul. And my first instinct was not that logo.” But when he shared our logo ideas with his launch team, somebody brought a guest who didn’t know the church yet.
That person pointed to our edgiest logo idea and said, “That logo reminds me of the church where I grew up in my past—but also in this new futuristic kind of way.”
Pastor Josue went with the visitor’s favorite logo, which was our favorite, too. He said, “We’re trying to bring the essence of the Gospel, but branded in a new way that people will be able to connect with.”
But it shows us something deeper, too. Pastor Josue listens carefully for God’s voice, however (and through whomever) He wants to speak.
Waiting on God’s Timing to Launch a Church
When COVID-19 hit, Future Church still didn’t have a firm launch date. He didn’t want to set an arbitrary date and jump ahead of God’s timing, then find they didn’t have the people or resources they needed to accomplish their goal.
He said, “I really felt led in my heart to just say, ‘Okay, God, you're going to determine the times and seasons by the amount of resources and people you bring around us to support the vision.’”
Pastor Josue set a potential launch date for September 2020, though he was ready to wait longer if they weren’t ready.
All of that changed. Pastor Josue and his team started praying together about what God would have them do during the coronavirus epidemic. They said, “Lord, is this maybe a season in which you could possibly grow a church that hasn’t even yet been? Could you possibly do something with it?”
Future Church put together an online service with a private link for their team only. But one of his team members said, “Pastor, we’re putting so much production work into this service that it’s something we should share.”
So Pastor Josue decided to tell his team it was okay to share the link with close friends. Within three weeks, they had thirteen hundred viewers!
However, Pastor Josue realizes we can all be misled by metrics taken out of context. That realization led Future Church to ask a hard question.
Fulfilling the Great Commission
Pastor Josue said, “In the Great Commission, Jesus told us two things: ‘Go preach. Make disciples.’ I have to challenge myself and ask, ‘How effective am I being at those two things that Jesus asks from me?”
And with online services, the opportunity for Future Church to disciple new believers has gone well beyond their home in Washington, D.C.
Pastor Josue said, “People began to write to us and say, ‘Oh, I’m in Boston. How can I join the church?’ We decided to do a Spanish stream as well, and now people in Latin America are saying, ‘Hey, we love this. How can we be a part of this?’”
That changed his perspective on online numbers immediately. “Before, my metrics would have been, ‘How many views are we getting?’ Now my metrics are, ‘How many people are we processing to become committed disciples of Jesus Christ?’”
Pastor Josue realized that replicating an in-person church service over the Internet isn’t enough. With so many churches available to watch online, he’s beginning to think about how to build a congregation of disciples, not just viewers.
Here’s what they’re doing:
- Recording videos for their growth track and connection classes
- Forming online small groups where they can direct new believers
- Recording an eight-week leadership development course, directing it to online church volunteers
He said, “Many times, we miss it online. We don’t take our church and translate it to the web.”
What’s next once quarantine is over?
Future Church will eventually launch as a live location. But Pastor Josue says, “As long as God is using our online church this way, why not continue to do this as much as we can? When the necessity arises to meet in person, we can't neglect what we already started online.
“We see it in the Bible. There was persecution, and what happens? The Church has no boundaries. Where Christians went, the Church went and miracles began to happen.
“And that's kind of the concept that I'm having for church now. We're telling people, ‘Hey, you're in Boston? You want to go through our School of Leadership? Sure!’ Or, ‘You want to open a small group? Let’s see what that grows into.’ If that grows, God blesses it, and it becomes a campus, why not?”
- When it comes to reaching the world, your church’s size matters less than ever
- Preach the Gospel online, but find ways to make disciples, too
- Record videos to help lead people into next steps for discipleship and leadership training
- Develop your leadership team wherever they happen to live
- Make sure your website translates who you are as a church to everyone who visits your site
What amazes us most about the Future Church story is that every church, no matter the size, is suddenly on equal footing. Everyone is trying to figure out how to follow the Great Commission in new ways, discovering together how to keep preaching and making disciples, whatever comes.
So, what’s next for you and your congregation? How do you use the momentum you’ve gained during quarantine to keep reaching people all over the world?
We have a couple of resources to get you started. First, if you don’t know how to connect your message effectively with the people you’re trying to reach, fill out our free branding questionnaire.
Second, if your online presence needs work, start with our guide, “Anatomy of an Effective Church Homepage.”
How else can we help? Fill out the form below and let us know.