When the Pastor Says It’s ‘A Time to Sow’

By FRED BARNES

In 2007, my wife Barbara and I left The Falls Church, which we had happily attended from the time we became Christians a quarter-century ago. It’s a 277-year-old church in northern Virginia well-known for its popular preacher, the Rev. John Yates, its adherence to traditional biblical teachings and its withdrawal in 2005 from the national Episcopal church. Our three grown daughters and their families stayed behind at The Falls Church.

We didn’t leave in anger. We didn’t have political or theological anxieties. Rather, we left for a new church because our old church wanted us to. The Falls Church has become entrepreneurial as well as evangelical. It’s in the church-planting business. And we were encouraged by Mr. Yates to join Christ the King, the church “planted” near our home in Alexandria. We were a bit ambivalent about the move, but when Christ the King opened its doors in September 2007, we were there.

Well, not quite its doors. The church began with a monthly service in a 600-seat school auditorium. About 30 people showed up, mostly members of the seed group dispatched from The Falls Church. Soon Christ the King, which was launched with a grant of $100,000 from The Falls Church, rented an assembly hall, seating about 100, in a private school and started regular worship every Sunday. Now, with 130 adults and 40 kids, we meet Sunday mornings in another church, whose own service is held in the evening.

But we don’t just meet one day a week. One of the problems for a new church is that most of the parishioners don’t know one another. They’re not yet a community. Barbara and I knew fewer than a dozen of the original members of Christ the King. So David Glade, the 35-year-old pastor, organized everyone into dinner groups that gather monthly. Indeed, they had better gather: When our group skipped a month, Mr. Glade wanted to know why.

Three men’s Bible studies have popped up along with a women’s group. There is a prayer ministry, a vestry, and a choir led by a volunteer music director. A church retreat is set for August. Newcomers tend to be singles or young couples, and six baptisms are scheduled for the Sunday after next. Barbara and I are the old folks.

“It’s a pretty amazing start,” Mr. Yates told me. But it’s not unusual. Church planting is a burgeoning movement among evangelicals who are conservative in doctrine (but not fundamentalist) and inclusive in their outreach to nonbelievers and lapsed Christians. It’s a growing missionary field.

There’s a theory behind church planting. It rejects the idea of trying to fill up existing churches before building new ones. Old churches are often “closed clubs” that don’t attract new residents or young people or “the lost,” says the Rev. Johnny Kurcina, an assistant pastor of The Falls Church. Besides, population increase far exceeds church growth in America. This is especially true in cities.

As an Episcopal Church rector, Mr. Yates began thinking about planting churches 20 years ago. But the bishop of Virginia “wouldn’t allow us to discuss it,” he says, fearing that new Episcopal churches would lure people from older ones. In 2001, he was allowed to plant a church, but only a county away in a distant exurb.

Mr. Yates was strongly influenced by the Rev. Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian in Manhattan. Mr. Keller has led in creating new churches — Redeemer has planted more than 100 churches in New York and other cities around the world. Innovative new churches, he has written, are “the research and development department” for Christianity, attract “venturesome people” as fresh leaders, and have the spillover effect of challenging existing churches to revitalize their ministry.

Leaving the Episcopal denomination (while remaining in the Anglican Communion) has given Mr. Yates the freedom to plant churches in urban areas amid many Episcopal churches. (One is next door to Christ the King.) His goal is to plant 20 churches in northern Virginia before retiring. Christ the King was the third, and a fourth was recently planted in Arlington. Mr. Kurcina, 33, who is my son-in-law, is preparing to plant a fifth in Fairfax County.

For a growing number of young preachers like Christ the King’s Mr. Glade, planting and then leading a new church is an ideal option. As orthodox Anglicans, they didn’t feel welcome in the Episcopal church. And they felt a strong calling to lead their own parish. Mr. Glade grew up as an Episcopalian in Jacksonville, Fla. After graduation from Florida State, he came to The Falls Church as an intern and spent four years as a youth leader before attending Trinity Seminary outside Pittsburgh. He returned to The Falls Church eager to lead a theologically conservative Anglican congregation. “In order to do that, you had to go out and do it yourself,” he told me.

“Every new church has an awkward phase, figuring out who they are and getting to know each other,” Mr. Glade says. That phase is over. Christ the King has also become financially self-sufficient. It aims to be a “healthy church,” like its parent. “A healthy church reproduces itself,” Mr. Glade says. Christ the King may soon do just that. Its assistant rector wants to plant his own church.

Mr. Barnes is the executive editor of the Weekly Standard and a Fox News commentator.

Doing God’s Work—At the Office

We are called to be co-creators of a flourishing life on Earth.

By ROB MOLL

Christian business professionals have long had an uneasy relationship with the church. Not only does the church tend to privilege church and missionary service over business, but it often condemns business practices and implies the guilt of any participants. Yet there are signs that this dynamic is changing—not least because churches rely on the donations of business professionals.

Many pastors now visit their congregants at work to better understand their professional lives. Justin Buzzard, pastor of the Garden City Church in San Jose, Calif., wrote last year about ministering to professionals in his congregation. “It shows them that I care about their callings, how they spend 50-plus hours of their week.”

Organizations such as Corporate Chaplains of America and Marketplace Ministries have sprung up in the last 20 years to offer chaplaincy services and Bible studies to offices. And among a younger generation of Christians in business, working as financial analysts and engineers is itself Christian service.

Their mindset is captured by Dave Evans, co-founder of the videogame giant Electronic Arts and a design professor at Stanford. Mr. Evans talks more like a theologian than a former Apple engineer. He points out that Genesis says that humans were created in the image of God, so all of our work—not just church work—is holy. We are called to be co-creators, with God, of a flourishing life on Earth. “It is really a profound act of engaging the kingdom of God,” says Mr. Evans.

When he began work in the 1970s, integrating faith and business amounted to little more than being ethical and trying to make converts. Much has changed, he says, as a younger generation seeks to sanctify the corporate world. “The glory of God,” Mr. Evans says, “is humans fully alive. Work itself has value. It’s a huge countercultural behavior to train yourself to value work for its own sake and to see it as a service to God.”

Mr. Evans will be speaking this weekend at a conference of 250 MBA students from the country’s top schools. Organized for the past six years by Yale’s MBA Christian fellowship, the conference marks a transformation in how Christians and other religious professionals seek to integrate their faith and their work.

The so-called faith-at-work movement has more than a century-long presence in American business, says David Miller, a former finance executive and now the director of Princeton University’s Faith at Work Initiative. Mr. Miller, who helped start the conference when he advised Yale’s MBA Christian fellowship, says that it attracts people from a variety of religious traditions who are looking for meaning in what they do. “The good life isn’t accumulation of things, but it’s what you do with your gifts and talents,” he says. “People are asking these big questions.”

For many religious professionals, this means making their beliefs relevant to ethical dilemmas at work. Bob Doll, the chief equity strategist for fundamental equities at BlackRock, says he’ll be encouraging students at the Yale conference to pursue excellence in family life, church life, and career alike. On-the-job pressure provides an opportunity to “live out your faith in front of colleagues.” he says. “How do you treat employees? Do you lose your temper?”

Jeremy Foster, a Yale MBA student who helped organize the conference, says that “Young people today see business differently. They want to know how their values play out in their career.” They’re attracted by social entrepreneurship and other paths that embrace the market but allow the faithful to do well by doing good.

“I believe God has called me to the business world,” says Brian Myhre, who will graduate from Harvard Business School in May and return to work at the Boston Consulting Group. At last year’s conference, says Mr. Myhre, “I appreciated the speakers who have led organizations and are able to treat employees as Jesus would and distribute profits as Jesus would. It made me think differently about the purpose of business and how we can be co-creators with God, reflecting the divine character at work.”

Mr. Moll, author of “The Art of Dying: Living Fully into the Life to Come” (IVP Books, 2010), writes on faith and business for Christianity Today.