3 Questions with Jimmie Davidson: Launching a 100% Online Church

Jimmie Davidson is the founding pastor of Highlands Fellowship Church, one of the largest multi-site churches in America with 4,000 in average attendance. Jimmie is the founder of the Global Glory of God PEACE House where over 300 international business leaders and Pastors have been trained from over 70 nations, touching tens of millions of lives. Most recently Jimmie served as the Pastor of Global PEACE leading all global missions efforts at Saddleback Church including the planting of 4 Global Saddleback Campuses on four continents including Hong Kong, China; Berlin, Germany; Buenos Aires, Argentina and Manila, Philippines. In addition to all this Jimmie is the Church Planting Catalyst with NAMB in Orange County, CA. Jimmie is using all his training to launch a church, using current technology, fully online and in homes across the globe. 

Here are 3 questions I recently asked Jimmie: 

As you're in the process of planting/launching a new church that will exist 100% online first, what does that look like functionally?

The Internet is our runway for this vision to take off connecting with billions of followers of Jesus who will host a church offline for their friends, neighbors and family who need Christ wherever they live.  The followers of Christ are our platform for sustaining this vision.  

The delivery system in bringing God’s word will be online or delivered offline live if gifted individuals are present to do so.  

Functionally, followers of Jesus will gather those they know wherever they live, work or play to watch a weekly message from The Brooks. This is taking the campus model and making it smaller and bringing it closer to those who need Christ through existing relationships where trust has already been establish. Radical hospitality, spiritual questions discussed, Baptism, Lord’s Supper, grace and truth as well as bringing the good works and good news of Jesus to the neighborhood will all be a part of the vision for each gathering.   

 

Where did the vision for this new kind of church come from?  

 

 

This came from Jesus.  We are embracing his first century plan using 21st century technology to reach a global community.  

All my experiences with Him from planting a church in Virginia that became muti-site and growing into a mega church in one of the smallest populated areas of Virginia/Tennessee, to God’s awakening me to the Great Commission and then placing me at Saddleback to lead the launch of their global campuses, all played a part in bringing me to this moment.  

In transitioning from Saddleback I had time to look around and see the giant holes that exist in mega cities and small towns when it comes to reaching people with the gospel. I saw the gaps; Jesus inspired me through his words in Isaiah 43 that his gospel/church would be like streams in the desert filling those gaps, his statement that He would build His church (gathering) and the gates of hell would not prevail against it, all led me to see Jesus focus was not on buildings which are often barriers but on the gathering of people around Him, everywhere. These oikos connections that already exist through followers of Jesus are fertile movement ground for the good news to rapidly spread in any context or culture.  

As I began to see the possibilities He then began to connect me with people like you on the front lines of the delivery of the good news.  

 

 

I understand that your vision is to start an online church that transitions to face-to-face community, how do you see this transition taking place?

It’s already happening with pastors/gifted communicators and teachers who would prefer to deliver the message live. Of course there will be those who log in and listen but the vision is implemented through followers of Jesus obeying His command to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations. They will gather people in whatever space God has given them to hear about Jesus and to learn what it means to follow Him. This makes the church live, local, in person, relationally based and fulfills the Lord’s expectation that we will not forsake the assembling of ourselves together.  

Our need to personally connect and be there for each other will never go away regardless of the advances of technology. Technology is our friend to be used to make connections easier and possible. We will use this technology to create awareness in the churches that the delivery of the message is possible through a gifted teacher in the gathering. We will encourage the hosts if such a person is present and desires to teach then we can evaluate gifting/character and then coach offline around the weeks message so the teacher present can share the word through their own personal story and scriptural insights.  

For the gifted pastor we will allow the teaching of scripture to come from that local pastor who can choose completely different series or messages based on the local context and needs of that community as God leads.  

Just like the early church experienced rapid growth and with it the Holy Spirit gave gifts to those coming to Christ so the body would be healthy, growing and full of love, we want to partner with God’s Spirit to identify those gifted by Christ to use their gifts whatever they may be.  

Our role online is to start and provide the leadership needed in the early phases of new churches just like Paul did as he traveled to those early churches not only starting the gatherings but also helping to identify leaders to care for and oversee the work.  

So a four pronged approach that will constantly be repeated:

 

  1. We start online with gifted communicators on The Brooks Leadership team delivering the message online to the gatherings wherever they may be globally.   

  2. As the vision grows and bi lingual pastors are called to help us, they will take the English version of the message and communicate it in their heart language on video using an iPhone so non-English speaking peoples can gather and become like Jesus. These messages will be uploaded to our site for the non-English speaking gatherings whatever the language may be.  

  3. When gifted communicators are revealed in the gatherings, we will invite to an offline sharing around the message for the week.  That teacher will then communicate live in the gathering with their stories and insights using the same message guide as delivered online.  

  4. When gifted pastors are called to be part of The Brooks Church, they will be allowed to develop their own series and messages related to the context and culture of their gathering while carrying out the vision of the Brooks.  

One of our goals is empowerment, equipping God’s people for the work of the ministry and releasing them for the Global Glory of God.  

 

One measure of success will be gatherings moving from first generation to second, third, and fourth etc. The Brooks is a Church Planting Movement to make disciples of all nations carrying out Jesus command in Matthew 28.  Our ultimate goal is to play our part in the body of Christ in Finishing the Great Commission.    


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