A “Simple Church”
In a summer sit-down with Trey Brunson, pastor of campuses and discipleship at The Church of Eleven22 in Jacksonville, Florida, campuspastor.com investigated community-building and mission. Do they look any different in the era of the multisite church?
What’s the summer vibe been like across the campuses at The Church of Eleven22?
The summer has been a really encouraging season for us. We kicked things off at the end of May with our annual Beach Baptism where we baptized 1,125 people. It was one of the most encouraging things I’ve ever done in ministry. We also kicked off a 14-week study through the book of James that has been really encouraging. We just had 278 high schoolers go to camp and are about to send 390 middle schoolers to camp. This week we are in the middle of our Serve Week where members are serving with local partners across Jacksonville and the communities we have campuses in. It’s been a great summer of resting, serving, and growing together!
What’s the best way for a church campus anywhere in the U.S. to tap into local community and gain relevance with Millennials and Gen Z, in your thinking?
I feel like most of the Millennials and Gen Z friends that I’ve spent time with are looking for someone to be honest with, care about life and the issues that we’re all walking through, and foster environments where community can flourish. I don’t know that Millennials or Gen Z are that much different from any other generation in the need for truth in the face of the cultural tensions and community that helps us navigate the heaviness and joy of this current moment. I think that’s why at Eleven22 we would say that everything we do flows from the pulpit. We sit under and submit to the Word. Pastor Joby [Martin] preaches through books of the Bible because it is truth.
It speaks to each of us each week and it powerfully and practically addresses every situation we could find [ourselves] in.
It’s also been a conviction of ours from day one that we would be a “simple church” and why we have read and encourage new staff to read the book by that title. We want to focus on discipleship. That takes place through community and an open Bible. We don’t do a lot of things but we point everyone at Eleven22 to being in a disciple group, serving, and going on a mission trip as one of the three main next steps of faith you can take. By focusing on the Word and finding and growing in community through disciple groups, serving, and missions trips, I think we’ve been able to engage the next generation well.
How do you tap into local events and needs in order to plan future aid to the community or events to come together with the community and worship?
I think we have tried to be a great partner to all of the men and women that God is working in and through in the communities where we have campuses. Our campus pastors and staff work with our local missions leaders to support and serve at the events and towards the needs that arise in our community. In order to do that effectively, we have worked to cultivate relationships and partnership[s] where we help the organizations and leaders in our community do what God has called them to do so that when there is a need, they know that they have a partner. That posture also frees us from having to figure out what to do in a moment of crisis; we just come alongside those who know what to do and how to do it well.
Is there anything else you’d like to share that’s a real area of potential for campuses as they seek to minister to their local communities even better?
[This is] fresh on my mind from coming out of a meeting yesterday. We run our disciple groups in trimesters and take time off in between to give the group leaders a break. One of those breaks is over the summer. We were just talking (Central discipleship leaders and the campus discipleship ministers) about the purpose and vision for those breaks. Over the last few weeks/months, my family has been able to lean into some relationships here in our neighborhood or with friends of our kids that [have] led to some great ministry moments. We’ve invited these friends over to our house and I’ve grilled for everyone or we’ve gone together and hung out at the neighborhood pool. The break and slow-down of the summer has been an encouraging season for real ministry in the relationships that can easily be passed over in the busyness of the spring and fall. I’ve heard other great stories from friends at the church and from other staff members. It’s easy to miss the rhythm of summer in slowing down and enjoying quality time with friends and family.