Recenty we had an opportunity to talk with Garrison Greene, a church planting resident and assistant to Lead Pastor Nick Nye, about Veritas Community Church's recent expansion to four congregations.
What's the idea behind calling your multi-site locations "congregations" insead of "campus'"?
A proper definition for congregation is “a group of people assembled for worship.” It calls for us to think more of a community of people, rather than a physical location or campus. We want the people at each of our congregations to feel ownership of the church and the mission of the church in their context.
Also, just practically speaking, being just literally right down the street from one of the largest universities in the nation, the language of “campus” invokes thought of OSU’s campus. Many corporations refer to a “campus” as building locations around the city. 'Parishes' invoke heavily on the predominate Catholic community of Columbus. ‘Satellites’ are a poor reflection of our mission that each congregation is not solely linked to one congregation. While we don’t believe that any of these approaches are wrong, referring to our multiple communities as congregations is the most accurate description of our church.
What is the significance of this most recent expansion for the mission of Veritas?
Very simply put, our mission is to make disciples with the vision of transforming our city. The way planting multiple congregations allows us to work toward this mission is being present among the different peoples in the city of Columbus. We want to share life with, identify with, and work for the good of the peoples and neighborhoods in Columbus, and we can’t do any of that if we are not present among them. It also gives us an opportunity to better contextualize the gospel to these different peoples. Like most cities, Columbus is incredibly diverse in culture, socio-economic needs, sinful proclivities, and it requires us to contextualize the gospel in a principled and prayerful way. Having congregations and community groups across the city allows us to better address those needs.
What is the significance for the new location of the church in Columbus?
We have two new locations as of January 4. Previously we were only in the Short North, which is just north of downtown and in Upper Arlington, which is a nearby suburb. The two new congregations are Veritas East, which is in a very diverse suburb just east of Columbus, and Veritas West, which is an inner city neighborhood with a lot of low-income families. The Veritas East congregation was planted with 100 people, many have been driving 40 minutes every Sunday to our Short North gatherings. Veritas West is significant, because it was the result of merging with another local church in the area that was planted about a year ago. We worked closely with them as they planted and grew, had very similar DNA, and just started asking the question “are we better together than apart?” The merger has been a huge blessing for all involved and has led to great depth and furthering our mission to reach the peoples of Columbus. Both neighborhoods that these congregations are in are going through a lot of changes as Columbus is growing rapidly in number and diversity. Young professionals are moving into the city and out of the suburbs and many internationals are finding their home in Columbus. These congregations being planted where they are put us in a very unique and strategic position to be present and contextualize the gospel to our growing and changing city.
What were some of the steps that took place to expand to four congregations?
The first step was a lot of prayer. These opportunities came when Veritas was already overwhelmed with a lot of growth and in need of more and more leadership. So we knew that if this was going to happen, we had to be dependent on God for strength and wisdom. The second step was a lot of discussion among the elders. We wanted to make sure the people of Veritas were still being cared for and that the leadership was staying healthy. After we felt that God given us confirmation, we brought it to our members for them to pray about it and express any concerns.
Who were some key strategic partners that helped pave the way?
A lot of people and churches have been very helpful. Leadership at Sojourn, like Daniel Montgomery and Gregg Allison have really helped us theologically and practically. Rich Plass and Jim Cofield have given us very wise and godly counsel. Upper Arlington Lutheran Church and the SBC here in Columbus have been very generous with us. The Leadership Network— Larry Osborne and Michael Fletcher have been particularly help in terms of speaking into the organizational and practical side of things.
Who is the lead pastor there and how are gatherings going?
The Lead Pastor at Veritas East is Josh Remy and gatherings are going very well. They are growing and are looking at what it would take to go to two gatherings soon. We have been given a small but expandable church property at the East congregation. They have many strong and capable leaders who are serving God and his people very well in preaching, leading worship, and hospitality. The Lead Pastor at Veritas West is Wes Thompson and gatherings are going very well there as well. They just recently moved into a new location and are connecting with the neighborhood well and learning what it looks like to be a part of the community.
If you would like more information about Veritas Community Church and their vision for Columbus, Ohio, check out thier website.