The Greenhouse Network is a decentralized, released, growing family of missional leaders and outposts (non-profit organizations, social impact projects, missional communities, businesses, and church plants) that exists to provide relationship between missional outposts and church plants for sharing resources, provide support for missional leaders, provide access for emerging leaders to existing social and material capital, and provide momentum for the regional multiplication of missional outposts and church plants.
The Greenhouse Network had its beginnings in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, a distressed community northwest of Pittsburgh along the Ohio River. The disinvestment of the steel industry in the 1980s left three generations of poverty with its attendant social challenges. In 2005, a youth development organization called Aliquippa Impact was birthed out of a 100+ year old Christian and Missionary Alliance Church called The Gospel Tabernacle that had begun to experience renewal. As that organization grew, served the community, and developed young and emerging leaders, lessons were learned about joining Jesus in mission among those experiencing poverty. Over the next decade, a family of non-profit organizations, social impact projects, missional communities, businesses, and church plants began to multiply in Aliquippa and throughout the Pittsburgh region with a special focus on post-industrial river communities.
This movement remained almost entirely organic until leaders in the movement formed it into The Greenhouse Network in 2018. At this time, an incubator called the Greenhouse Lab was initiated at the relational center of the Network to provide a service platform (marketing support, financial support, coaching, and training) to support network leaders, help people imagine and start missional initiatives, and provide pathways for the poor to create their own businesses.
Listen to Episode 21 of the podcast and access the show notes below.
Future Church Insights:
(1) Joel shares how the Greenhouse Network continues to grow.
With so many people on their team working from a community development background, there are certain values that they will not transgress like: listening to the community, identifying the assets already present in the community, etc. As things started to grow, they found that it was important that they grew in a way that fit their values. Once they have a clearer onboarding process, Joel says that this will allow more missional leaders to participate in what God is doing through the Greenhouse Network.
(2) Why it’s crucial that indigenous leaders lead this effort in their neighborhoods.
It’s important to empower leaders from each neighborhood to eventually lead and take on this development because the goal isn’t to just transport people from the outside in to solve the issue. We need people who are already in these neighborhoods to lead the efforts on fixing the communities problems and to believe that the community has the answers and the creativity for the challenges they face.
(3) A new way to think about innovation.
Most view innovation in the creation of a new thing, but another way to think about creativity and innovation is curation. Curating things in a new way involves integrating different things that Joel and his team have learn from other movements and people that can come together in a way that’s contextually appropriate.
Goals and Desired Outcomes of The Greenhouse Network:
Their goal is to explore how denominations and existing churches might work in synergy with networks to plant more missional outposts and multiply church plants.
- In the next year, the Network (sodalic) will partner with four kinds of churches (modalic) for the purpose of piloting intentional partnerships out of which we can learn reproducible models of sodalic/modalic synergy. The Network will partner with 1) a mid-sized, established church that is already heavily engaged mission in the community, 2) a large, established church that has relied heavily on attractional models 3) a small, established church that is just beginning to engage mission in the community, and 4) a new church plant. After one year, we will summarize lessons that have been learned from these partnerships for the purpose of sharpening practices and creating materials that can be passed along to others.
- The Network is now partnering with denominational leadership in The Christian and Missionary Alliance in the Western Pennsylvania District. In fact, Joel Repic, the Greenhouse Network Coordinator, is now also serving as the Church Planting Director for the District. This is creating new, exciting territory to explore the possibility of denominational- network partnership. After a year, we will summarize observations we have made and lessons that have been learned that might be helpful to other denominational or network leaders that might benefit.
- Within the next year, the Greenhouse Lab will double its capacity to serve Network leaders and help missional leaders start new initiatives. In particular, this means doubling our capacity to serve leaders in coaching relationships, financial services, marketing support, and training. This capacity building is necessary to position ourselves to serve leaders better.
- For many years, the Network existed squarely in the territory of sodality, but now we are partnering with churches to plant modalic expressions of the church. Within the next year, we would like to be engaged in planting three churches that experience their beginnings in the context of synergy with the Network.
- In our Network, Gospel proclamation and demonstration have always existed side by side. We are a people committed to activism and justice, and we are a people committed to sharing the Good News of Jesus with our words. As the Network grows in the next year, we will provide every missional outpost in the Network with training in evangelism. We believe our Network is currently very hungry for this type of investment.
Key Quotes from the episode from Joel Repic:
“Contrary to some of the stereotypes that are foisted on poor communities, our community hustles and there are people starting businesses all the time. There are a lot of creative energies that we get to walk beside as they become entrepreneurs. Even if they’re unbelievers, we get to walk beside them as a form of our witness.”
“When we collaborate with each other, we’re able to do a lot more together if we’re willing to set our own names aside, our own agendas aside, and work together for the good of the city and community.”
“Jesus does his best work in our weakness. So why not embrace that weakness, learn from other people, and acknowledge what we don’t know?”