My Encounter with an Atheist Church Starter

[fa icon="calendar"] June 27, 2018 / by Ray Van Gilst

God or atheismOne time on a flight from Baltimore to Sacramento I was sitting next to a guy who asked what I do. When I told him that I help people start churches he said, “Really, I’m starting a church – how do you do that?” So, we talked for a bit as I briefly described the process. I began asking him questions about his goals, etc. When I asked him, “So what kind of church are you trying to start?” He said, “An Atheist Church.” Long story short, he turned out to be the guy from Sacramento that sued to get “One nation under God” out of the pledge of allegiance. 

We had a very interesting conversation – I got the impression that I’m the first person in a long time that listened to him and tried to understand where he’s coming from. He’s even been marginalized by the atheist community since they want nothing to do with the word “church.” 

We’ve kept in touch and gotten together a couple times. I enjoy our friendship, and I believe he does too, and we have gained a mutual respect for each other. While I don’t agree with him, I think I understand where he’s coming from, and I respect how he has come to his conclusions, and what he believes based on those conclusions. He is a man of integrity, if not of faith. 

Mr. Newdow believes atheism is a religion and he wants to change our culture with what he doesn’t believe.” My entire life has been dedicated to launching new congregations of Christ followers and changing our culture because of what I “do believe.” Or rather, “Who I believe in.” Yes, it’s about community and yes, it’s about serving our communities, but it’s also about a very personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, the One who has changed my life, and without whom, my life would be very empty. 

What will it take for us to reach the Mr. Newdow’s of the world? It will take more than the ways we have always done church. We need to break out of the same old thing and be very intentional in how we show the love and life changing reality of Christ to those around us.

In A.B. Simpson’s day, he had what he called his “irregulars” – people who wanted to serve God in creative ways. I say the day of the irregulars has returned! If you take on the challenge of starting new communities of Christ followers, you cannot help but have an impact – the fields are simply too big not to! It’s a well-known fact that the single most effective way to reach people for Christ is to launch these new groups.

Planting new churches is all about dreaming big and expecting God to work in amazing ways. We want to build a cutting-edge team of church launchers who will walk in faith as they destroy the gates of hell and rescue those who so desperately need faith in Christ. And if you want to know if you’re called and gifted for this unique task, we can help you figure that out.

Topics: Church Planting