Dr. Richard A Hunter, Coach & Consultant


Through the Eyes of a Church Planter & Lead Pastor

Fresh Expression Fishing Guide

I have been fishing in lakes and oceans all my life. Having an experienced guide or a friend who knows the body of water and the personalities of the fish is key to a successful catch. The same is true for churches who want to "fish for people" in new waters. Churches in changing communities, churches that decide to minister across town or to different people groups often do not know or understand the fish they are seeking to catch for Jesus.

My coach, Jim Ozier, recently said in a workshop:  "People are hungry and want to be fed." I have often heard people remark that their church was not "feeding" their spiritual needs. This is not a selfish or shallow statement. People need spiritual food. That is why Jesus gave physical bread to the hungry crowds in Galilee and proclaimed to them the bread of life. People expect the church to feed them the rich food (sustenance) of heavenly things, truth that sets them free and offer grace that liberates our souls from guilt and regrets.

People also want to serve. I see this in our American culture more than ever, especially among young people. The best way to connect millennials and teens to your church movement is to give them meaningful ways to serve and impact their communities. That is attractive fish food!

The One Direction Community (ODC) is a house church network in Huntsville, Alabama led by Rev. Gary Leiderbach. ODC reaches people from all across the social spectrum. They have connected people to Jesus that most churches will never see: the poor, the wanderers, the folks that hang out in Waffle House, work at the flea markets, drug addicts, former addicts, runaways and professional burnt out with traditional churches that are isolated from hurting folks in our community. They feed people good food and the Word of Life found in following Jesus Christ. They also call everyone in their church network to serve - and people respond powerfully!

ODC feeds people spiritual bread and delicious food for their bodies at house church meetings and at their Dinner Church on Monday nights. The Dinner Church gathers for fellowship and Pastor Gary and his wife Nancy hug everybody who walks through the door. A generous meal is served and you only pay what you can. This is followed with praise songs and prayers, then a hopeful message from the scriptures and everyone is invited to receive Holy Communion. When my wife and I left, we both said it really felt like a New Testament way of church. A true Fresh Expression!

This Fresh Expression of church feeds people from all walks of life. ODC now offers house churches in 3 homes, a flea market, the local rescue mission and in a closed school in a poor section of their city. They serve the needs of the community in each location and you will see poor and rich, young and old, black and white folks working hand in hand together in these places.

Check out their website for more about this unique, Kingdom centered community of faith:  https://www.onedirection.community