The majority of Christian Reformed church plants Resonate has worked with over the past decade are still serving their communities. In fact, 144 churches planted in the last 10 years are thriving. However, sometimes the call to plant a church turns out to be temporary and the church folds after a few years. In these situations, church planters have found that even when a church stops meeting, their efforts have not been in vain.
One planter who recently discovered this is Pete Armstrong (pictured) of Dwell, a church planted in the bustling world of New York City. Dwell sought to help people take a deep breath and find community in the body of Christ. After many challenges that come with being located in the center of a city, leaders at Dwell made the difficult decision to close their doors after six years of ministry. They held their final service in December 2016.
“Obviously this isn’t what I was hoping God would do,” said Armstrong. “But now, [several] months later, I can laugh about presuming God’s will and say I have more joy in ministry than ever before, and I see clearly how God used the church plant.”
Some of the ways God used the church plant were evident at the church’s final service.
People who had moved away traveled back for the day. Members from all of Dwell’s six years shared testimonies of how Jesus worked in their life through their time at Dwell. Fittingly, Armstrong preached using the popular Broadway story “Hamilton” to illustrate hope in death.
“Our identity is in Christ and our hope is in the gospel,” said Armstrong. “I think we need that message the most when it seems like our dream has died. The gospel became more real to me through this experience.”
Many of the people involved at Dwell have continued to serve the community where it was located. Others have moved away and shared with Armstrong how they are serving Christ in places like Singapore, the Netherlands, and China.
The lessons Armstrong learned at Dwell aren’t going to waste. Today he serves at Parklane CRC (Portland, Ore.) and also as a local mission leader with Resonate Global Mission.
“I felt like I messed up and failed, but that’s not how Jesus treats us,” added Armstrong. “Now I get to serve other people and help the CRC be even stronger in mission and that feels great.”
Read Part 1: What Does Church Planting Look Like Today?
Read Part 3: Church Plant Responds to the Neighborhood’s Needs
A version of this story also appears in the Banner magazine.