5 Reasons I’m Excited About The Launch of Athens Church This Sunday
I think it was sometime in the fall of 2014 that I found out about a young minister who felt like God wanted him to start a brand new church in Columbus. Being the same age and in the same profession, I was intrigued by his plan. My wife and I had recently felt a similar leading to join a new church in Illinois. Our plan was to learn how to start a church also during an 18 month period since we weren’t sure where we would end up after our church-planting residency. The only question I had for Aaron Lentz when hearing about his plan was, “Why Columbus?”
In some people’s minds, the last thing we need in Columbus is another church. There’s already so many great congregations in our community that currently meet people’s spiritual needs. Don’t we have somewhere between over 100 churches in Bartholomew County? What was pulling Lentz and a group of his friends to start another church in already “saturated Christian market”?
To zoom out for a minute from Columbus, every church was once a brand new church. Some people forget this important fact. For whatever reason, this just escapes people’s brains. The other thing that I think is important for people to understand before we move on is the difference between a church (building) and a church (group of people). I don’t think it’s the time to go into the original meaning of these words in the biblical languages of Greek and Hebrew, but I’ll sum it up this way so we’re all on the same page.
The last thing any community needs is another church (building). Every community can use more churches (groups of people) though.
At the heart of “Why Columbus?” are three reasons that I’ve heard from Lentz each time we have talked.
(The Call, The Need, and The Potential were copied and pasted from www.athenscolumbus.com)
After seeking the Lord in prayer and asking for discernment, we are certain that Columbus is it! We are trusting that the Lord will bring people to Himself in Columbus and what a humbling privilege it is to be a part of what God is doing in this city to glorify Himself.
There is a great need for gospel-preaching churches in Columbus. There are 105 churches for the 76,794 residents of Bartholomew County. With the average church reaching approximately 125 people, that means that there is 1 church for every 731 people.
With Columbus being the home of a number of internationally known companies such as Cummins Engine Company, individuals from across the globe venture to Columbus to make it their home; God is bringing the nations to Columbus. This church plant will reach beyond the scope of Bartholomew County — it will reach the world! Columbus is an attractive, award-winning city home of architectural sights, a number of resources, and numerous opportunities for employment. These accolades contribute to Columbus’ reputation of being a city of great influence. As Columbus is impacted by the gospel of Jesus, it’s influence will spread to the surrounding cities and beyond! With Columbus being a city of world-renown wonders, an increasing housing market and numerous employment opportunities, Columbus is a place of influence and potential. Athens Church will be the first location of a church-planting movement. It is our desire to see the Great Commission advanced as disciples of Christ are made and more gospel-preaching churches are planted.
Here are 5 reasons I’m excited about the launching of Athens Church this Sunday.
1. Athens Church loves Columbus
When you talk to Lentz, you can tell how much he loves his hometown. He understands the importance of Cummins and diversity to our community. He appreciates the arts and education that make our city so special. He embodies the small town family morals and values that allow our Hoosier town to continue to shine.
While I don’t think it’s easy for anyone to start a new church, many of the group at Athens are from our community. This will allow them to connect with people, places, and businesses that otherwise might take “outsiders” longer time to build relationships with. I’m honestly excited to see how this will translate to community impact and numerical growth. Although numbers aren’t central to Lentz’s mission at Athens, every number has a name and every name matters to God.
2. Athens Church is all about the Capital “C” Church
Sometimes when a new church begins, they make it sound like they are the cool church, or the best church, or the only church in their marketing. When I talk to Lentz, he reiterates over and over how much God is already doing in Columbus. He wants people to know that Athens Church is just another group of people trying to make a positive difference in our community for God.
The last thing he wants is to make it sound like their church is competing with others. Lentz’s hope is that they can partner with other churches to reach more people in our community for God. Athens wants to be another part of Christ’s team in Columbus. (The Capital C Church refers to Jesus Christ’s Church, not one particularly church)
3. Athens Church will reach people who are not already going to a church
One of the cool things about Athens Church is that they are beginning their public worship services at Yes Cinema in Downtown Columbus. After working for a year at a church that met in a local school, I’ve experienced the reality that people who are curious about Christianity will visit a school before coming to a church building. A new church like Athens is going to draw initial attention from people in the community are searching for a place to explore faith.
I also love their idea of renting a public space for church gatherings because the money will go directly back into the community. Athens is generating additional revenue for a local business that offers a mutually beneficial financial situation. It also allows people to not get distracted by how great a building is and instead focus on why they are at the space.
4. Athens Church gives people an opportunity to serve
If a church is beginning with the right motives, they will focus on developing new people in church leadership instead of stealing the experienced veterans from other congregations. I’m really impressed by a few conversations about leadership development at Athens. By starting a new church, people who otherwise would have waited for years to serve get an opportunity to experience it on the front lines each week.
Athens Church also plans on being a church that serves Columbus. This might sound like a “duh” to readers who are a part of church culture but saying it and doing it are two totally different things. I’m looking forward to seeing how Athens plans to be a church of the community that meets local needs.
5. Athens Church is all about Jesus
Jesus Christ is the central figure of the Bible. Therefore, Athens Church believes that he should be the central figure in our lives as well. As a church this is why you might hear them often use the word “Gospel” in everything they do.
The Gospel simply means the good news about Jesus. The good news is that Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection can change anyone’s life. Athens Church wants to see people, our community, and the world awakened to this reality. Perhaps this is why they are starting their first public church gathering on Easter Sunday, the day Christians celebrate Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead.
These are just a few reasons why I’m excited about Athens Church launching this Easter Sunday. My family and I will be attending this Sunday to support my friend and their church as they continue their church-planting journey.
If you would like to join us, Athens Church meets at Yes Cinema (328 Jackson Street) and their worship service starts at 10:30am. If you would like to learn more about Athens Church and my friend Aaron Lentz, check out their website here.