Following is information provided by Pastor Rob James, the developer of GPS Faith Community, presented in a Question and Answer format:
Q: What does “GPS” stand for?A: Good question. “GPS” has meant different things to different people. The name has always been vague, which has encouraged great conversation. But, we are now officially ‘GPS Faith Community.’ And, we use the name we have lived into as followers of Jesus Christ—God’s People Serving!
Q: What is special about GPS?A: We are committed to serving as the hands and feet of Christ in our world, and we are committed to worship.
GPS is where the lattes are optional, the atmosphere comfortable, the music admittedly loud, and where the people passionately reach out to the community with Jesus’ love! Our worship doesn’t look like that of a lot of Lutheran congregations. There are no hymnals in the back of our theater seats, but our worship brings us together to give God our praise as we proclaim the Gospel for one another. God is doing some great things in and through GPS Faith Community! As more and more relationships are built, we are being sent out into the community to do more in the name of Jesus Christ. We have a deep passion for serving as the hands and feet of Jesus Christ in our community. We are reaching out to meet our neighbors, to build relationships, and to help meet needs. As this happens, our worshiping community continues to grow.
AND, we continue to have a strong relationship with our sponsoring congregation, Grace Lutheran Church in Loves Park. The people of Grace didn’t know what they were getting into when they voted overwhelmingly to start a new congregation. They did what the church needs to do more and more—they took a risk and followed God into the unknown.
Q: You mention loud music and lattes. Does that mean your congregation is for young adults?A: When I first visited this church called GPS, worshiping in a movie theater, I was expecting a church of 20 somethings—which (truthfully) didn’t excite me; I believe in intergenerational ministry. However, when I showed up, almost everyone had gray hair! They were the people from Grace who had come to support this ministry. Over the last three years we have seen considerable growth in our younger population, but we still have great diversity in age.
Q: How was Grace helpful?A: Fortunately, Grace was able to secure some funding from its endowment as well as from members who had financial resources to help start a new church. But, the reality is that this church started with very little funds.
The greatest resource that Grace was able to give to GPS Faith Community was people. The first year the average worship attendance was 126; ninety-nine percent of those were Grace members. The boost of having a gathered mass helped others come in and feel an energy that made them stay. We now typically have about 220 of our own people in worship. Grace continues to walk with us, supporting us in innumerable ways.
Q: How else might individuals or congregations support new ministries?A: Prayer and words of encouragement are so easy, but so overlooked. Not only do we want others praying for us, but we want to hear that they are praying for us!
Of course, people, financial support, and other tangible resources are extremely helpful. Quality supplies (not stuff you want to throw away!) like Sunday school and vacation Bible school materials, sheet music, music leaders and musicians, music stands, mics and mic stands—even trailers for storage.
Q: Anything else?A: Endowments, estates, tithes of building funds, etc., can be used to support new ministries. When we start with nothing, every dollar is important. If we move out of the theater into a building of our own, it will be expensive. We would love to receive grants that allow us to move forward and keep growing in the ministry we are doing in our community!
Q: What advice would you give to an individual or congregation that is considering being a Mission Partner?A: It’s the greatest thing you can do for the church in the 21st century . . . and for your local congregation. You must be willing to take risks, to let go of resources, and know that God will do ‘infinitely more than you ever dare to ask or hope.’ (Ephesians 2:20)
Come and visit!To partner with this congregation, see www.gpsfaith.com