Bivocational minister Tori Stone (photo) shares her experiences and insights on what it is like to plant a brand new church in partnership with a Nazarene-led coffee shop (see Story).
WWM: How did you get the church plant started?
Tori: We had been talking with people for months beforehand about how we were planning to start this new church. Once we started meeting, we reached out to a handful of people to join us. There are, of course, Derrick and Chris’s families, a good number of the Blend staff, along with their roommates or spouses, and others were people (customers) that we had met through working at Blend.
WWM: What does your typical week look like?
Tori: I typically work three days a week in the shop. Every other Thursday, I join a Young Mums group that is reaching out to young mums (21 and under) in Dundee to help them, support them, and show them the love of Jesus.
I have recently gotten connected with a group of people from another church within the city that have previously run English classes for refugees that have been settled in Dundee over the years. I am excited to be gathering at the house of a family from Syria this Friday for the first time to meet with them, as well as learning how to make homemade baklava from them in their home.
I always try to find a day to myself during the week to rest, reflect on what God is doing, and catch up on the daily life things that need to be done.
Other than that, I spend time looking for opportunities to build on relationships with people. Many times I will spend a good amount of my time off in Blend reading a book or writing, but it almost always turns into getting to meet with a customer and getting to know them better.
What are some of the challenges involved with planting a new work?
Tori: I think … to be a part of something new, rather than stepping into something that is already in place, is always a challenge. It forces you to step out of your comfort zone, to take risks, and it needs you to think outside of the box. All of these things are challenges to me. I often feel unequipped, not enough, and I question myself weekly. However, I have been able to work with a team of people here (Blend staff and our core church team) who are gifted, compassionate, loving people who help me through those times and remind me that God is at work in each of us and that He is doing something here even when we cannot see all the small pieces at work.
How have you seen God work over the past year?
Tori: I have watched our core team come together, learn from one another, and daily work to be more vulnerable so we can be the people God has called us to be here. I see growth and excitement when one of our staff members from church really engages with a customer, or even if two people who have been coming on Sunday nights connect together for the first time. This is what we are about: building relationships, and that goes so far beyond just our Sunday night gathering.
What is a typical gathering like?
Tori: So far our Sunday gatherings include a time of worship in song led by Melanie Ward, who moved to Dundee from Paisley, and is one of the leaders at Blend. We look at a passage of scripture and we discuss it together as a group. We have someone take the kids out and do a Bible lesson with them. We have decided to share communion weekly, and we gather for a meal after every week.
What have you learned so far through this experience?
Tori: I think what I have learned is to celebrate the small steps, because they are what God is using to do something much bigger. If you don’t take the small steps, and you just jump ahead, you are going to miss out on some of the interesting stories and the real detail of how God is at work among your community.
This article was previously published in the May 2019 edition of Where Worlds Meet.