FCP 18 | Stephen Partain, Grace in the Bywater

August 17, 2022


    Grace in the Bywater has taken the former church fellowship hall and large green space in their back lot and transformed them into “Grace in the Bywater.” The commercial kitchen will have affordable day rates for food entrepreneurs, and will also include indoor/outdoor seating. The outside space will also be available for event rental, art shows, markets, etc.

    By Utilizing the space for the good of the community, they can make the property a community hub without the commitment of someone attending a church service. Part of their dream is to build out enough missional business on property that any salary or utility would be covered by these ventures.

    The missional and financial picture work together for a sustainable approach to mission.

    Listen to Episode 18 of the podcast and access the show notes below.

    Future Church Insights:

    1. Stephen talks about being the resource of an older church and trying to become good stewards of the property

    He says that his vision was to plant a church, and also a missional business at the same time. 

    Grace Community Church looks like a traditional church and Grace in the Bywater is the missional business. The business uses the Fellowship Hall and has made it into a neighborhood cafe, renovated it, and put in a commercial kitchen.

    2. Stephen explains how being a church and a cafe work together to serve the community.

    They desire to have the church building become a neighborhood hub again in the community, as it was so many years ago. The hope is to also help businesses grow and prosper. 

    3. Stephen talks about the community partnership approach and how to make it work.

    Stephen says that many times, churches have great ideas about what the future could look like, but not the best execution, because they don’t always have the diversity of people with the right kind of people to make it happen. Their church has told the community,  “It’s not that we just want you to be a part of this. We can’t do this without you.” 

    I think there’s a lot of potential for churches, with kitchens and certain spaces to think through community partnership models and it’ll be a huge open door to relationships and engaging people.

    Goals and Desired Outcomes: 

    1. Create a thriving neighborhood hub at our space, for people to enjoy and connect.
    2. Build relationships with those completely uninterested in church in a no-pressure environment.
    3. Demonstrate the nature of the gospel by using our property for the good of others rather than ourselves.
    4. Financially subsidize ministry through missional ventures.
    5. Create a model for others churches in our region with property to launch missional business in their space for impact.



    Quotes from Stephen Partain:

    “We talk about post-Christian, I think in our space, it’s really been post-Christian for a while now, that getting people to a service isn’t the goal necessarily. Getting them to relationship, seeing those forms, seeing conversations about Jesus. Really almost the service itself is probably more of the outgrowth of actual engagement than it is the front door of how we’re going to engage people.” (08:04)

    “For us, it’s been just a partnership thing and then really telling people, “It’s not that we just want you to be a part of this. We can’t do this without you.” (11:08)

    “I’m convinced that God blessed us with this resource for the exact reason of leveraging the property for mission.” (24:33)

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