LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) – Andrew Eaton, the co-pastor of Commonwealth City Church, said an invitation to church should be more than sitting in a building with somebody for an hour.
“If we’re saying we’re inviting people to church, we hope it means the life of a believer,” he said. “It better not mean one hour on Sunday.”
Eaton and co-pastor Curt Vernon said their strategy includes leveraging what it looks like for church to happen in homes, neighborhoods and everyday life and not only on Sunday morning gatherings.
"We have the intent of equipping people from children’s ministry to family ministry to discipleship,” Eaton said. “We want to empower people in families and those who are shepherding four or five people.”
Eaton said, however, don’t get the idea that he is leaving church behind. “I’m not diminishing the value of Sunday mornings. They are extremely valuable and biblical. Something happens in a group of people celebrating together.”
They call their Sunday mornings “a worship gathering.”
“Especially in the South, we have said that hour on Sundays, things programmed in the building, is the beginning and end of what church is as opposed to saying the church is the people,” Eaton said.
Commonwealth City Church meets for “worship gathering” every Sunday at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. at the Baptist Campus Ministry building on the University of Kentucky campus. Their services are drawing about 70 percent of attendance since going back to in-person meetings. That translates into between 100 and 115 in each service, and that partnership with Kentucky Baptists leaves them with a “huge spirit of gratitude over those relationships” that allow them to use the BCM building every week.
But Sunday isn’t the only day for worship and learning. “We’re empowering people to be the church in everyday life,” Eaton said. “Empowering people to be on mission.”
He said what COVID-19 did was “reveal and expose where our structure and strategy weren’t efficient.” The pastors are encouraging family groups and small groups.
“Especially under COVID, the front door to the church might be a home or living room and not the Sunday gathering because of how restrictive it is right now,” Eaton said. “If family groups can be the initial gathering point, if those can be entryways, worshiping Jesus becomes the next step in the community.”