Ft. Worth church ‘coloring outside the lines’

FORT WORTH,?Team Church DFW in Fort Worth is “coloring outside the lines” of mission work typical to many Southern Baptist churches. Instead of building up its own body, the year-old congregation sends teams of church members to participate in weekly mission trips across the metroplex for church planting.

John Worcester, missionary and church planter for 23 years, founded Team Church with the goal of starting four new plants each year. Today, the congregation has grown to about 70 with almost 50 members participating in weekly mission trips to facilitate two area church planters.

“We are not just under one church, but basically an orchard of churches,” said Worcester, who has planted and pastored six churches including one in Moscow. “We will be planting churches that will plant other churches. They won’t be all like Team Church. That’s what we exist for as a church?to plant other churches.”

Along with planting churches, the Team Church staff is creating a city-reaching strategy as a prototype for other churches desiring more mission involvement.

“It’s a little different in that we’re gathering people in this hub and building them up so they can go out in the communities on Sunday mornings and reach people for Christ.”

After being approached by Tim Ahlen, the former director of church planting for the Dallas Baptist Association, Worcester was convicted for the need to create a new strategy to catalyze a church planting movement.

“I asked myself how we could create something that was very effective,” Worcester said. “I asked myself ‘What do church planters need the most in the early stages of the planting process, and how can I start a church that provides that?'”

Worcester soon realized that teams for ministry were crucial to church plant longevity. “Church planters are not usually very administratively-oriented. They need help with books and obtaining permits, and we can help in those areas.”

Team Church was born in November of 2002 and already supports two church plants, with plans to plant one more church by the year’s end.

During the week and on Saturdays, Team Church members divide into evangelism, children’s ministry and administrative teams to facilitate church planters. The teams distribute fliers for upcoming launch services, organize block parties and canvass neighborhoods for prospective members. Worcester said as Team Church grows, teams for worship, technology support and church planting will grow as well.

Team Church members gather on Sunday evenings for “hub meetings,” for corporate worship. Hub meetings consist of worship, a report of church planting activity from members and a fellowship meal. Small groups are also held on weekdays for accountability, prayer, support, and shepherding.

This strategy, Worcester said, frees the church’s ministerial staff and members to do mission work and facilitate church plants on Sunday mornings and during the week. Acknowledging that a church that does not offer Sunday morning worship services is different in Southern Baptist life, Worcester emphasized that Team Church is a prototype for mission work.

“We’re still learning and trying different things,” he said. “We see ourselves as the research and development division of the convention?trying new things to start church planting development.”

The first of two plants Team Church is currently undergirding held its first pre-launch event on June 9. About 200 people gathered in the backyard of Ryan and Gena Heller for a block party previewing Fellowship of Stonebridge in McKinney, pastored by Ryan.

“The kids enjoyed jumping in the bouncy house, getting balloons, hugging Chuck E. Cheese, and having their faces painted by clowns?along with all kinds of refreshments,” Worcester recounted. “The adults had a great time meeting neighbors and winning prizes donated by local businesses.”

As a result of the block party, almost 50 children signed up for Stonebridge’s weekly children’s ministry, “Club Rock.”

In July, Stonebridge hosted Vacation Bible School at which six children made professions of faith. On Aug. 24, the church plant held its first preview worship service with 270 in attendance, and on Sept. 7 the plant baptized an individual for the first time.

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