A Car Wash Church // August Update

In a lot of parts of the world, the shift from Summer to Fall is gradual. Although the calendar has clear start and end dates for Fall, it doesn’t really feel like it’s Fall until the weather finally starts to cool down, the leaves start changing colors, hoodies and jackets become the garb of choice, and Starbucks releases their pumpkin spice latte. This could start as early as August, or as late as October. It all depends on location and the uniqueness of that year’s season.

My point? Fall is typically a season of transition—from the hot of summer to the cool of winter.

Vermillion’s Fall, though, doesn’t happen gradually. It’s almost instantaneous.

No, not instant regarding the weather (it’s still been humid as all get out). But instant in the shift from summer rhythms to fall rhythms. As soon as school started back up for USD, this town instantly shot up in energy. There’s more traffic, more people crossing the streets, more business happening at Walmart. Students are back. The Fall semester is here.

One of the main reasons we chose to church plant in Vermillion is because of the university. As I’ve said before, I have a huge passion for this stage of life. There really is no other season like college: when you are fully independent for the first time in your life, left to figure out some of life’s most hard-pressing questions:

“What am I going to do?”

“Where am I going to live?”

“Where do I belong?”

“What’s my purpose?”

“Who… am I?”

No one should ever have to navigate these questions alone. That’s why we feel called to be a church that helps people wrestle with these questions, and realize that Jesus is the greatest, most fulfilling means to answering all of them.

We want to be a church that utilizes transition.

A Transient Town Needs a Transient Church.

Vermillion is a lot like Fall. Just as Fall is a season of transition, Vermillion is a community of transition. College students and families pass through here all the time. They’re here for 3-5 years and then move on to their next phase of life. And there can be a love-hate relationship between churches and transient towns. On one hand, a new church will always be seeing new people every year. But on the other hand, that church will always lose people every year. And that gets exhausting after awhile. Therefore, churches in communities like Vermillion may opt to only invest in the people who are planted in the town for the long haul. They’ll welcome newcomers, for sure—but they won’t strive hard to invite them in. Why bother when students are only here for 7-8 months of the year, anyway? But in doing so, they miss out on being a transformational presence for the people who come through their church when they’re planted in the transient community.

This is because a lot of churches still function with the mindset that “success” is based on the amount of people who come to your church. However, when you’re focused on how many come to your church, you get disappointed whenever people leave—even if it’s as simple as graduating and getting a new job elsewhere.

But what if we redefine a bit what “success” looks like—one that takes advantage of the transient nature of the town?

What if instead of measuring how many people come to our church, we measure how many people come through our church?

What if instead of passing over a group of people that’ll only be here for a few years, we leverage their transient season and invest in them as much as we possibly can, so that by the time they leave, they’re made more fully into the image of Christ?

What if we can be a church that celebrates transitions, sending people out with the anointing of the Spirit to be a missional presence wherever God brings them next?

You see, to reach a transient town, we have to be a transient church. We may never grow to be a church over 200 or 300. However, while attendance is an important metric, it’s not near as important as the amount of people we send year after year.

That’s why my dream for our church is to be a car wash church. What do I mean by a car wash church?

First off, have you ever noticed that there’s no such thing as car baths? Where you could drive your car into a body of water and let it just soak in it for a large period of time? They don’t exist because they’d be incredibly inefficient. The car wash, on the other hand, gradually takes your dirty car through all sorts of crazy mechanisms and colorful soap dispensers and sprinklers to get your car cleaned up and ready to go for what lies ahead. There’s a reason why you’re not suppose to put your car in “park” when you go through an automated car wash. Instead, your car has to be in neutral so the car wash can freely move the car through the wash to get cleaned up.

We want to be a car wash church. A place where people can enter just as they are, and leave transformed, be it after 20 years or 2 months. We want to ensure that whoever falls into our care is fully taken care of, loved on, and invested in, no matter how long they’re there for.

Updates & Prayer Requests

  • We Have a Mailing Address! You can now send us mail at P.O. Box 533, Vermillion, SD 57069! Why is this such an exciting next step in us becoming a real church? Because we need an address to get an employer identification number from the IRS, which we need to file for our 501c3 tax exemption status, which we need to setup a bank account, which we need to raise and organize funds, which we need to operate as a church body. Continue to be praying for these behind the scenes steps, as they’re crucial for us moving forward!
  • Vision Reveal. I am so excited to announce that we have a name, vision, and values!!! This is a mission the Lord has been convicting me over for the last 7 months now. We’ve finally landed on official language that really sums up what we’re about—and I can’t wait to share it. Stay tuned for more information for a digital Vision Reveal Party over zoom coming up in the next few weeks!
  • Our Core Team. Since my last monthly update, we’ve already had several more conversations with people who are interested in our church planting efforts—which is incredible! Continue to pray for God to bring us core team members and early adopters of our vision. Having a solid team of people who are bought in to our vision is incredibly important for us to launch this thing well.
  • We’re Starting a Small Group! Lastly, we’re going to start a bi-weekly small group this fall! This will be a time of fellowship, conversation, and vision casting for our church plant. We felt that it was important we offered something, even if it’s small, to invite people to who had an interest in what we were doing. So please pray for this group! That people can immediately feel like it’s a place they can belong to, and that the Spirit will anoint our time together to create meaningful relationships, dive into the word, and discern what he wants to do in our lives and the community.

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