Project: Grace in the Bywater
Stephen Partain


Creating a commercial kitchen and event space that will be used to create affordable access to food entrepreneurs, especially of color, in our city to begin their business, expose their talent, and create thriving businesses in our community.

Project Categories

  • Bivo/Covo Business for Mission Models and Expressions
  • Church Planting and Funding Model
  • Other – Innovative, unique projects that may not fit in an identified category but still fulfill our mission of church multiplication

Big Idea and Overview

We are taking the former church fellowship hall and large green space in our back lot and transforming 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/ maker markets, etc.

By utilizing the space for the good of the community we can make our property a community hub without the commitment of someone attending a church service. Part of our 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 works together for a sustainable approach to mission. One of our good friends, Kayti Williams, is a chef in the city who will be opening her restaurant as the anchor and who also coaches at a non-profit focused on empowering minority businesses. This will be a natural partnership pipeline for the space.

We received initial zoning approval and fire marshal approval in late 2020. We have also received conditional approval from the Historic District and Landmarks commission of New Orleans (Our property is located in the historic district). Currently, we are completing the permitting process with the city of New Orleans and the department of health and human services, we anticipate completing these in the next 30 days. We have raised 90% of the needed funds (100k) and are believing that God will provide the final amount in the coming weeks.

Customer / Mission Field Context

Our context of the Bywater/Upper Ninth ward contains two primary groups.
The first is native New Orleanians, mostly African-American and from the neighborhood originally. They tend to hold more traditional beliefs on Jesus and the gospel and have experienced the brunt of gentrification over the last 15 years.

The second group is transplants, mostly white and from the coasts (LA, SF, NYC) that moved to New Orleans for the culture, music, and food. They tend to not hold traditional religious beliefs and are part of the rapid gentrification that has happened.

By making space for native entrepreneurs in particular we believe the “local” nature of our space will be welcoming for long-term residents. Once it contains this authentic feel it will also be attractive to the transplants who want something deeply connected to the city. By leveraging pre-existing relationships we expect our work to be considered a part of the community fabric. There is also a strong tourist population that can be attracted to build revenue for the businesses.

Goals and Desired Outcomes

  1. Create a thriving neighborhood hub at our space, for people to enjoy andconnect.

  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.

Results and

We have incredible conversations with friends, neighbors, city officials, and entrepreneurs about our work. This has also opened up great conversations about our “why” for the space and how the gospel impacts our vision.

We have also done some “pop ups” on the back lot with food entrepreneurs. The most recent was 2 days for about 6 hours at a time. The entrepreneur made over $2200 in revenue during this time.

Media Assets

Virtual Reality Church

Exponential's Future Church Podcast

Virtual Reality Church

Outreach Magazine Article