In some parts of the world, the word “church” has become synonymous with a building, and for some people, the word “Christian” has become associated with a religious organization full of judgy people.
None of that is what God intended, or what Jesus came for. At EPC, our mission is to exponentially spread the love of Jesus in the community and between one another. Church = Jesus followers.
Because our mission is exponential, we’re doing “church” a little differently than most people in America are used to experiencing or hearing about.
Most weeks, we meet in a home or small gathering spotand we study and discuss a particular part of scripture together. We believe that the Holy Spirit reveals different perspectives to each of us, and that everyone has something valuable to contribute based on their uniqu life experiences and current circumstances.
We also take time to pray together, worship together, discuss and share burdens, ask each other for help and support with real-life things, and share the Lord's Supper (communion). Typically we're meeting together for about an hour and a half.
There is no dress code, just please wear something.
Each year, we go through the entire New Testament together, following a reading plan throughout the week, and narrowing in on specific pieces of scripture when we gather on Sundays (but if you're new to our church or just have one of those weeks where you don't get to the reading, you'll still be able to jump in just fine on Sunday). We want to be intentional about maturing in our knowledge and understanding of our faith, and wrestle together through scripture.
Every 6 weeks or so, we meet at a larger space and have a more typical "church" service with more worship music, a talk from pastor Dustin or another speaker, and a chance to celebrate wins together, while inviting the community to hear about Jesus and see what we're all about as a church. These "community gatherings" will become even more precious as we begin to multiply into more church gatherings over time.
One of the key ways we're fulfilling the mission of exponentially spreading the love of Jesus, is by regularly multiplying our gatherings.
Once a gathering has consistently reached around 20-25 people, we'll choose to multiply into another gathering, and then build up again to about 20-25 people per gathering. Rinse and repeat.
This reproducing multiplication effect allows us to spread all over the city, and encourages us to be intentional about fulfilling our mission of exponentially spreading the love of Jesus.
Small gatherings also allow for intimacy, accountability, and opportunity for each person at a gathering to contribute with their unique gifts, without losing those things because the church outgrows the practicality of them. It’s kind of difficult for 100 or 1,000 or 10,000 people in a church building to be able to fully contribute and feel known each week. Each of us was uniquely made and uniquely called to serve the body of Christ and the mission of Christ.
Not having a church building to pay for or care for financially also allows the generosity of the community to go much further toward caring for people in our church and in our city who are in need.
Dustin completed his pastoral residency at Venice Church (part of the Eastlake Church Network) in Venice, California. He also was previously on staff as the Children's Ministry Director at Venice Church, and served in the Youth Ministry.