It’s the same feeling each year when the first crocus bulbs peek through the winter ground signaling the beginning of spring. You know that beauty is about to explode all around you and the anticipation of growth literally hangs in the air. Folks in Avon and Hendricks County should be on the lookout to witness another amazing beginning on October 2, 2022: 317Church.
“There are over 100,000 people in Hendricks County—the third fastest growing county in Indiana— who do not have a relationship with Jesus,” shares 317Church’s guide, Pastor Seth Bye. “We are asking ourselves what does it take to be the church who reaches those 100,000 or so who might never step into the doors of a church? We believe that God is going to use 317Church to reach as many of those people as possible.”
The church’s mission is simple: Love and support our community, help people experience Jesus, find freedom, discover purpose, and make a difference in their lives. Pastor Bye shares that even if only one of those 100,000 people are reached, their mission is successful and worthwhile. They may start with just one person but reaching many more is the goal to create an active ministry center dedicated to community engagement and support.
Through its resource grant with the Center, 317Church worked with Fishhook, a church marketing and communications firm based in Indianapolis, to create a recognizable name and brand for the congregation. Fishhook’s guidance has allowed 317Church to start sharing their story with Hendricks County, creating an impression on the community, even before its launch.
“The name for the church gives a shout-out to the area code for most of Indianapolis and we hope makes the church easily recognizable, approachable and normal,” says Pastor Bye. “And the scripture from John 3:17 has a particularly special meaning especially in the world we live in today.”
John 3:17 — For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Launch Team Goals: Pray, Plan and Prepare
While the name of the church was one of the first decisions made, 317Church’s leadership launch team continues working together on Sundays in a type of spiritual workshop gathering to pray, prepare and plan through open dialogue about the next decision-making phases prior to the launch.
“We use that time together to seek the Holy Spirit, pray, plan and strategize, and prepare ourselves through training, readings, and conversations about what it will take to launch 317Church,” says Pastor Bye. “Our launch Sunday is October 2, 2022, and we’ve still got much work to do.”
The church’s catch phrase says: Life is Messy. We get it and so does Jesus. Bye says the phrase lets people know that the church understands that life can be messy, we are human, and we don’t always get it right — but that’s okay. Many believe a church can be filled with saints who never do anything wrong, Bye says. But that isn’t reality.
“Jesus came and used outcasts as his disciples,” Pastor Bye continues. “We want people to know that God meets each of us where we are and loves us there in that moment transforming our lives from that point forward.”
Pastor Bye says the support 317Church has received from the Center for Congregations has empowered the church plant to do just that: meet people where they are in their spiritual journey.
“We want people to look at 317Church and think, ‘Hey, this might be a place where I can find acceptance and learn who God made me to be,’” says Pastor Bye. “Our work with Fishhook and the Center for Congregations has been pivotal for beginning that process of communicating who we are and what we’re about in the Great Commission of our community.”
The Gospel of Generosity
Preview services for 317Church will be available on Sundays on September 11 and 18. But, Bye says that weekend gatherings might be a more appropriate way to describe their open services in the future.
“We are going to listen to what people are saying as far as what works for them for our gatherings,” says Pastor Bye. “Over a third of Americans work on Sunday mornings, and we want to be accessible and available to all. So, perhaps a Sunday 4 p.m. gathering works or a Saturday evening. We want to be creative and responsive to the community and their needs and wishes. 317Church is committed to supporting their community, offering a new place to know God and to share the gospel of generosity.”
The prayer, preparations and planning that is underway now plants the seeds for the growth and generosity of 317Church as it comes into full bloom.
“Pastor Kevin Myers of Atlanta’s 12Stone Church says we should give-more-than-we-take in a take-more-than-you-give kind of world we all live in today,” Pastor Bye says. “Generous giving is at the foundation of all we do, and we are preparing to open our doors to make a difference in and for our community.”