Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : October 11, 2004

We launched Missio Dei tonight. We were given a bunch of money for “advertising” so we sent out mailers in the neighborhood. The mailers were done in a very authentic way. Overall, I would say we got less than .05% that’s right, point-zero-five percent. About 15 people showed up from the neighborhood (due to the mailers). Another 15 came from personal invites.

The point is, if you are starting an authentically urban work, then you need to build relationships and network. You must be present in your neighborhood and build relationships, and grow that way. Am I disappointed with our lower-than-expected turnout? Only a little. I was hoping to get people from the neighborhood so that we could build from their relational networks. We did get people–just not a lot. But it is enough to build on. I hope some of them stick around and can get adequately involved in our house groups (which looks promising).

I’m sure that some of my church planter friends will look at Missio Dei as a failed attempt. I don’t think it is. We are small, but strong. And the future looks bright. We’ve got two house groups and can probably move to three soon. We’ve got an ESL outreach ministry starting. And we are finding more possible ways to serve all the time. This is a good start. But it isn’t a “big” start. But that is ok. The pre-Pentecost church was only 120, and look what happened there.

Here’s what I think the future holds:

Around the new year, as our outside support dwindles, I’ll need to go bivocational.

In a few months, we’ll probably move from a weekly central meeting to a monthly one (weekly “services” are very time and money consuming).

We’ll probably develop a bar outreach ministry in the coming months.

We’ll continue to develop our immigrant/ESL ministry.

Mark Van Steenwyk is the editor of He is a Mennonite pastor (Missio Dei in Minneapolis), writer, speaker, and grassroots educator. He and his wife Amy have been married since 1997. They are expecting their first child in April.

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2 Responses to “Launch”

  1. Steve Treichler on October 14th, 2004 11:53 pm

    Whoa there, big dog! I have quite a few thoughts I would like have you chew on:

    1. Having a total of 60 people at your first meeting is something to be JAZZED about! As I shared the story of Misseo Dei having 60 people at their launch to our leadership team, they applauded! It all is a matter of perspective. THIS IS GREAT!!! PEOPLE ARE COMING. Remember, the ground you are in is very hard soil. The fact that anyone came is so very, very cool.

    2. Do not be so quick as to strategize what the future will hold. Our church was no more that 75 people after 1 year (if we counted all the cockroaches and mice in the building!). I have always been full time. It very well may be that you need to be bivocational…I have no idea, but see what God does. Let me encourage you to keep it up, seeking God all the way to provide - how he does it is his business.

    3. Pour yourself into those 60 people! Win, Disciple, Learn, Laugh, Hang out! You will change the whole complexity of that neighborhood with 60 people who love on one another, love Jesus from their toes, and are eager to reach more and more people to the greatest message and person ever!

    4. Enjoy it, even the hard times. I’ve been at Hope now for 8+ years, and those early days, hard as they were, as poor as they were, were the good old days! Our team worked very hard to celebrate the (very small, but significant) milestones.

    I’m proud of you and your team. Keep it up, do NOT give any discouragment a foothold in your life or your team’s life. If it sounds like I am preaching - I AM!! Keep on running after him and for him!

  2. Van S on October 15th, 2004 10:40 am


    The strategizing only has a little to do with funds. They all will help in our goal of “decentralizing.” The only one that is affected by inflow is me going bivocational. We would need to double our giving for me to stay full time currently, and we would need to triple it in order for me to stay full time in April–when our outside support steps down again. In addition to that, we have very little money for outreach as it is and I don’t want to sacrifice outreach money so that I can stay full time. Being bivocational is something I’ve been prepared to do for a long time. I think it has some advantages and I believe it is a growing and healthy phenomena to have a growing number of bivocational leaders.

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