Welcome Luke and Linda Dalach to the Ecclesia Network!
Hi Ecclesia family. My family and a few friends are at the very beginning stages of starting a network of missional communities in Northwest Indiana. Our little section of Indiana is part of Chicago’s culture….we’re Bears and Sox/Cubs fans and get all Chicago media. Illinois forgets we exist, Indiana would like to send us to Illinois and we’re one of the most racially segregated parts of the country per capita. But God has great plans for our Region!
My wife and I spent 12 years starting commuter college ministries with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in Northwest Indiana. We grew up in the area and have always had a heart to see God’s kingdom come, especially among the next generations and among folks who’d usually not step foot in a church building. After a season on campus, we started to sense that God was calling us to go after the “missing generations” post-college. Last September we moved to Crown Point, the county seat. In December we transitioned off IV staff and now we’re taking baby steps to pursue this next vision.
We believe that Jesus and his good news of the kingdom are too good to sit back and watch as many of the next generation live their lives apart from God’s family. We want to make disciples of Jesus among the “missing generations” who become a network of missional communities. We want to see apprentices of Jesus everywhere. Almost all of our IVCF supporters were excited about our vision, so we are in a season of rebuilding a support team and taking small steps in gathering a first missional community. This fairly strange, slower season is giving us a chance to really listen to and learn about our new city and network to find the folks God will bring to be a first “missionary community.”
That’s a little about us and our vision. We’re excited to be a part of a group of mission focused churches and leaders like Ecclesia and we’re excited for what the Spirit of God is bubbling up all over in our country.
Welcome Bryan and Molly Long to the Ecclesia Network
Hi, I’m Bryan Long and my wife Molly and I live on the North Shore of Boston. Our heads are spinning a bit in the midst of some big changes in our life. I graduated seminary in May and two weeks later our first child, Mia, was born. Then in August we move back to my hometown of Rochester, NY to begin church planting with the Ecclesia Network.
Church planting was not the original plan, but it started with some growing thoughts. I was working as a youth pastor at a large church in suburban Boston and there I witnessed the power and draw of the expressions of that particular local church. But as I continued working with students and young adults, I began asking new questions. Are there people for whom these forms aren’t the way in but are actually obstacles and barriers? What if we could create new environments that were more untreated and organic to reach those who aren’t being reached? Over time these questions became a calling, and this calling became a vision of a new church.
When I got plugged into the Ecclesia Network and Fresh Expressions, I realized that many others were asking these same questions. We desire to create a space for religiously unaffiliated people in our communities to explore Christ. Many are suspicious of established churches and tend to be drawn more to smaller and intimate groups. We are asking how we can incorporate the strengths of both alternative faith-based communities and the existing church. We’re envisioning a network of missional communities that meet regularly, but also join with the rest of the network in regular times of worship. We’re calling it The Agora Community. Agora is the Greek word for marketplace, the public center of first-century cities. We seek to enter agora spaces in our world to bring God’s Kingdom.
We start this new venture in September with a mixture of excitement, fear, thrill, terror and everything in between. But I am reminded of something A.J. Swoboda said at the Ecclesia National Conference: “Jesus invites us to come and die…to go into the grave and die and return again.” Our prayer is that we can sense what that Spirit is doing in Rochester and give up our lives to join in.