I regularly pause and look at the mixture of personalities, cultures, stories, needs, and dreams that sit around my dining room table and delight in the tapestry that God has woven together. I’m a mother of 5. My oldest is 20 and our youngest was just born a few months ago. Our first go at parenting started about 12 years ago when our first two children joined our family as foster kids (they were 8 and 5). After that, we gave birth to three more. Our family has come to be our family in a lot of different ways: marriage, adoption, foster, and childbirth. There are distinctives about what makes us all “Pierres” and yet, there is not a uniform way that we raise each of our kids. They are all different and so we adapt to their age, personality, and life story as we seek to raise them in the Lord.

I open with this example as a picture of what Crete Collective believes is necessary to equip church plants to flourish in Black and brown distressed communities. Unfortunately, a lot of church planting in the United States centers a certain demographic (families with young children, college students, etc), income (middle-class or wealthy), and location (suburban or gentrifying urban communities). Of course these people and places all need to have a strong gospel witness, but the problem is the metrics, coaching, and church planting standards are often built around this demographic. It's no wonder then that church planting in distressed communities is rare and often fails to meet the expectations laid out for them. Crete Collective wants to create a space where we can learn best practices from each other and discover shared distinctives and postures, but the complexity of these neighborhoods means we cannot take a uniform approach.

Crete Collective was started to plant, revitalize, and support churches in Black and brown distressed communities. Plant. Revitalize. Support. Each of these words is incredibly important to us. By God’s grace, we want to design a holistic strategy for seeing the gospel spread through Black and brown distressed communities. Because of this, we are building an approach that allows us to have distinct aspects to our network, yet adapt to the various needs and contexts of the planters.

Jonathan Brooks makes the statement, “There is no God forsaken neighborhoods, just church forsaken.” We believe the Spirit has called and equipped countless people to spend their life investing in planting the gospel and strengthening churches in distressed neighborhoods. These neighborhoods may be overlooked by most, but they are loved by God.

The neighborhoods we are focused on have often had a history of strong churches at different points of their history. These vibrant churches once provided a place for community, stability, gospel proclamation, advocacy, justice, and mercy. As gentrification, eminent domain, real estate land banking, loss of employment opportunity, and shifts in population impacted the stability of these neighborhoods– many churches struggled. Some remained a faithful presence through the decades, many closed, and others became commuter churches. Distressed neighborhoods need healthy churches. Often, the emergence of a revitalized church or a new work leads to renewal of other churches struggling in the community. We believe it will be vital to equip church planters and their leadership teams to be present in their communities, incarnate the love of Christ, and proclaim the full counsel of God.

As we enter into our second year as a church planting collective, we are focusing in three areas:

  1. Church Planter Training: We are curating tools, designing training, and facilitating conversations explicitly around planting and revitalizing churches in our context. Evangelism, theological vision, leading healthy teams, asset-based community engagement, developing a diaconate, preaching, children’s formation, family ministry, and vocational discipleship are just some of many areas that churches must design ministry models explicitly for the context of the particular neighborhoods they are embedded in.
  2. Revitalization: Far more resources go toward church planting than church revitalization, but revitalization of older churches is important and deserves the same attention, resources, and focus. Member churches (established churches), church planters, and churches participating in revitalization are able to grow and learn alongside one another as we facilitate round tables that allow best practices to emerge, questions to be reframed, and participants to benefit from the networks of one another. We pray the Lord would raise up pastors to revitalize churches and that new church plants would have strong relationships with existing churches in their neighborhoods in ways that bless and contribute to new life in the community.
  3. Financial Model: Typical church planting models push for a short timeline to be self-sustaining in ways that require you launch with a larger group of people. In healthy families, we see different kids become “sustaining” at different ages and even as adults, they need to lean into their extended family more at different seasons. We think this is true of church planting in distressed communities as well. As a collective, member churches are contributing 3% of their budget to our church planting fund; in addition, we raise funds in order to provide grants that support a long runway to church planters. These resources for significant church planting grants are available when we all chip in our loaves and fish.

Crete Collective is supporting and resourcing church plants by creating tables of fellowship and friendship around our shared mission. We believe these tables will be used by the Spirit to align our vision, build resilience, and spur one another on toward love and good deeds so that our neighborhoods would hear and see a clear image of Christ and be drawn to him. We invite you to join us in prayer and financial support.