Our Story: The King Family
The first time I heard about “church planting” I was in high school, and my future Father-in-law was pitching a dream for starting an organization called Kairos Church Planting that helps train and send out church planters. I didn’t know a thing about church planting and, honestly, when I first heard of it, I thought it was made up. I had no idea why we even needed new churches, much less how to start one. But amidst all of my questions and misunderstandings, the idea of seeing a new church geared toward my friends, wonderful people who had either stepped away from church or had no interest in it in the first place, intrigued me. And I couldn’t shake the thought.
Much of our journey into church planting we owe to my in-laws. Stan and Gena Granberg had friends like ours. Not our same friends, but people dear to them who struggled with belief, with fitting the mold of expectations found within many traditional churches, with finding any relevance in church. We watched new churches begin all over the country with these same people in mind, and God began shaping that thought we couldn’t get out of our heads. To start new churches for people who struggled, not just with church, but with belief. To be someone who creates with my friends in mind, people who had given up on church, but still had space in their hearts for Jesus. And that was enough for me to pursue people in ways I never had before.
In 2010, Laura and I moved to Memphis, TN, for graduate school. Laura earned an M.A. in Ancient History and Archaeology from the University of Leicester in England, and I earned an M.A. in Christian Ministry from the Harding School of Theology. At that time we felt God leading us to London to plant new churches. We have a deep love for Europe, and England in particular, strengthened by friends, family, and a host of connections across that Island. We worked for two years to develop a vision and plan for planting new churches in London, and that path took us to Nashville to work as church planter apprentices with Ethos Church.
In January 2013, we went to England for Laura’s graduation and a survey trip to London. Though previous trips to London seemed to open doors, this trip closed them. This was both painful and disorienting, as we had already put in two hard years of work to get to London. We spent an entire year discerning the feelings from this trip and God’s calling for us before deciding London was not the place for us. I began having spiritual conversations with my friends and family from back home in the Northwest and was feeling drawn back there. I told Laura, “I think God is calling us back to the Northwest,” and she replied with an emphatic, “Nope!” Of course, if you ever tell God no to something, that usually means that’s exactly what you’ll end up doing. Our spiritual and emotional journeys over that year of discernment were very different, but they both ended up in the same place, Seattle.
I grew up in Portland, and Laura moved there when she was ten. We loved growing up there, and Portland is nostalgic to us, but it doesn’t fit who we are as adults. When we started thinking about Seattle, however, things started falling into place. The friends who made me think of church planting in the first place refocused in my mind. Maybe not the specific people I first thought of a decade ago, but people like them. In the Northwest were our people. Even the training we had done in route to London fit so neatly to the culture and city of Seattle. From the moment we arrived in Seattle in July, 2015, it felt like home.
Our first 18 months in Seattle were a part of the groundwork season of church planting. We went through the phases of acculturation (even NW natives couldn’t escape culture shock, much to our annoyance), and spent a lot of time learning about our city, networking, and building credibility. We lost team members and gained some new ones. The game changer came for us when we began seeing the vision we felt God was placing on our hearts, and how it fit within a larger vision He was growing in the city. From the beginning we were drawn to the idea of more, smaller churches, rather than one larger one. In neighborhood-centric Seattle, where people struggle with the idea of driving more than 10 minutes in traffic for things other than work, we believed that 30 churches of 100 people partnering together could be more beneficial in Seattle than one church of 3000. What would 100 churches of 100 look like?
In the summer of 2016 I met a local pastor named Keith Carpenter, who pastors the Epic Life Church in North Seattle, and he shared his vision for 100 churches of 100 people. It quickly became apparent that God was up to something. He has been calling multiple people on different journeys into the same vision, and orchestrating the formation of a broader scope of partnership and relationship between like minded churches in North Seattle. And as this network of church relationships grows we are asking the question, “How do we plant 100 churches in North Seattle together?” I’m looking forward to the day when a new church planter moves to the city and says, “I know this sounds crazy, but I feel like God’s showing me this vision of seeing 100 new churches started…” And I get to respond, “I know.”
The vision of 100 churches of 100 is huge. For us, it starts in Northgate with the Missio Church. Missio Church is a newly forming church with the mission to Love God, Love People and Awaken a Movement. And the vision for Missio is to be a hub for new churches across the city.
Our journey has taken many turns, seen both disappointment and unprecedented joy. Without a doubt, the best part of this journey into church planting is the opportunity for invitation. Inviting people into relationship with Jesus. But, also, inviting believers to take steps on their faith journeys, to step out of their comforts zones and into further mission. Some have joined or will join us for just a few steps, and some may be on this faith journey with us for a long time. No matter the length of the journey, however, you won’t be the same when you step out on missional faith. It is scary and difficult. But it is also exhilarating, rewarding, just a whole lot of fun. So, let me offer you an invitation. Will you go on this faith journey with us?