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July 12, 2018

Burying and Resurrecting a Church Plant

By Daniel Im

Starting Separately

Three and a half years ago Bernard Emerson planted The Way Church. About a year later, Kyle Brooks planted Oakland Communion Church. Recently with a mutual vision of a multi-ethnic church that embodied racial reconciliation and racial justice, they buried each of those church plants and planted one church, Tapestry Church, together.

Better Together

When Bernard and Kyle met they realized that while their churches were very different, they were both pursuing the same vision and had the same passion and heart. God led them to start the churches independently, but Bernard and Kyle also believed that it was always God’s plan for them to meet and join the churches together. Kyle stated, “This wasn’t a course correction. It was more like a course continuation.”

Before the plan of joining the churches together started, the two churches would frequently partner together for events. The more they partnered together, the more they believed they were better together and could accomplish more as one church. Though they faced some unique challenges of combining two denominations with a goal of staying dual-affiliated, they are committed to being brothers first and pastors second.

A Unique Strategy

When Bernard and Kyle felt led to communicate to the church that God had a plan for them to unite, they knew they also needed a plan. Bernard shared, “We didn’t want to assume people would be OK being in relationship with each other based on ours.” They began worshiping together once every 8 weeks on Sunday mornings, alternating locations. Then they celebrated major holidays together. They followed up on these meetings by leading the churches through a devotion together. On Sunday mornings they wouldn’t preach, but would instead discuss the devotionals, allowing time for the church members to share thoughts and questions. Following the devotion, the churches came together for a family camp so they could continue to develop relationships. That strategy took 18 months to complete before the churches held their first service together.

Though Bernard originally thought a shared leadership plan would be best, Kyle always wanted Bernard to be the lead pastor. Kyle knew that it would be important for the world “to see a white man submitting to the authority of a black man.” Kyle believes that because of our society he has reaped power he didn’t earn and has privilege that was passed down to him. To balance that, it was important to Kyle for Bernard to take the lead.

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  • “This wasn’t a course correction, it was more like a course continuation. God had always put this in the hearts of both these churches from the very beginning.”-@kbrooksy7
  • “We didn’t want to assume our people would be OK being in relationship with each other based on ours, so we created space for them to come together.”-@bernardemerson
  • “Keep at it, but don’t keep hammering a nail that doesn’t go in. Find the nails that God wants you to hammer in.”-@kbrooksy7


Daniel Im

Daniel Im (@danielsangi) is the Director of Church Multiplication for NewChurches.com at LifeWay Christian Resources. He is a Teaching Pastor at The Fellowship, a multisite church in Nashville. He is the author of No Silver Bullets: Five Small Shifts that will Transform Your Ministry, and co-author of Planting Missional Churches: Your Guide to Starting Churches that Multiply (2nd ed) with Ed Stetzer. He also co-hosts the New Churches Q&A Podcast, the 5 Leadership Questions Podcast, and a brand new podcast with his wife on marriage and parenting called the IMbetween Podcast. He has an M.A. in Global Leadership and has served and pastored in church plants and multisite churches ranging from 100 people to 50,000 people in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Korea, Edmonton, and Nashville. Visit Danielim.com to learn more.


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