Hey y'all! We're the Pulliams. We were called to plant a church in northeast Spring in summer 2018. It's the most exciting (and crazy) thing we've ever done. But like we've been saying since day one of this adventure, "God's got this!"
Mark is a San Antonio native who received his bachelor's degree from Concordia University Texas and his pastoral training through the Cross-Cultural Ministry Center of Concordia University Irvine. He was ordained at his home congregation in San Antonio, where he served as associate pastor for 3 years.
We met at Concordia Texas where Laura was also pursuing a degree as a Director of Christian Education (DCE). Laura has served as a DCE since 2010 (specializing in youth and family ministry) and earned her Master's in Theology in 2016. Laura hails from Georgetown, TX (just north of Austin).
We'd love to get to know you. Better yet, we'd love to share a meal, a hike, a camping trip, or a bottle of wine with you. Oh! Our little dude Flint joined the adventure in July 2017. He's pretty cool. We think you'll like him.
Grand Parkway Church Plant is a member of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod
What's so unique about this area?
New tollway 99 (A.K.A. the Grand Parkway) was completed in 2016, cutting drive time to the mission focus area in half.
Population in this area is projected to grow by 18% in the next 5 years.
Over 60% of the population is made up of young families, many of whom report that they are disconnected from the church, yet believe faith in Jesus is important. As even our very first prayer walk confirmed, they are open to spiritual conversations.
If every church in the mission focus area was filled to capacity at every worship service, approximately 9,600 people would have a seat. In 2017, the population of the area was 66,887. This means that over 57,000 people are not being reached.
Bottom line = the mission focus area is vastly under-reached by Christian churches. The need in this area is great.
Why plant new churches?
Between 60% and 80% of members at new churches report being unchurched or dechurched prior to being reached by the new congregation. The data doesn’t lie: new churches reach new people.
The flexibility of a church in its first 15 years promotes a culture of accessibility to new members. The comparison is sometimes made to schools--do children find it easier to acclimate to a new school at the beginning of the year or mid-year? If you are interested in learning more, read Dr. Timothy Keller’s excellent article “Why Plant Churches.”
What's the plan for reaching the mission focus area with the Gospel?
Even as Jesus “moved into the neighborhood” (John 1:14), our family is moving into northeast Spring as local missionaries.
We’re currently meeting business owners, community keyholders, and neighbors. We're taking our kid to events at the library and planning to host block parties. We’re inviting people into our home and our life even as we pray for the Spirit to open people’s hearts to spiritual conversations and, eventually, the Gospel.
Simultaneously, we are recruiting and training a Launch Team. Right now, we're just getting to know folks and asking the Spirit to reveal who those key servants will be. This Team will be made up of Christians from the supporting congregations who hear the Lord’s call to serve as local missionaries to the target area.
How can I support this mission?
Click here to find three unique ways!
How did you (Mark+Laura) pick this area?
That’s the awesome part. We didn’t. The pastoral leadership of churches in the greater north Houston area have been researching, praying, and meeting in this area for several years already. They had the right place. Meanwhile, we had been praying about church planting. God led them to reach out to us and here we are!
Why plant with two church workers?
One of the successful church plants in Texas that we have been observing from its early beginnings, Narrative Lutheran Church in Round Rock, launched with a pastor and a Director of Christian Education (DCE). This led us to start thinking about our own unique sets of gifts. We are about as different as you can get when it comes to strengths and weaknesses. God led us to one another, first, as ministry partners and, later, as husband and wife. We think He’s set us up for success in this way.
How did you come up with your fundraising goal?
We reached out to recent church plants and drafted an educated budget based on the numbers they shared with us.
One of the largest variables will be rental of a public worship space in year two. Some churches are able to rent space that includes chairs, tables, and other needs for as little as $400 per week while others are paying over $1,000 per week. We are praying that God will be leading this part of the process and that we would have peace with wherever He places us.
When will public worship begin?
The short answer is that our goal is sometime between fall 2019 and New Year's 2020.
The longer answer is that we believe that worship (the Divine Service) is an incredible conversation between God and His people. As Luther explained, in worship, we hear the Word of God and respond in prayer and praise. However, a worship service may not be the best place for an unchurched or dechurched person to encounter the Gospel for the very first time. How can they be part of the conversation if they haven’t first encountered God through His Word and His people?
Therefore, before we launch public worship, two things will need to happen. First we want to train our Launch Team members to assume the posture of a local missionary, prayerfully seeking opportunities to share the Gospel with their family, friends, and neighbors. Second we want to establish “Gospel front lines", that is, places for people to encounter God and His people living out their faith in everyday life. As God’s Word is shared, disciples are made. When new disciples desire to come together to receive God’s gifts and respond in prayer and praise, public worship will happen.
What is a Launch Team? Who is on this team?
A Launch Team is a group of individuals and families united around the purpose of making disciples. These individuals will form the core of the new church, or perhaps more appropriately, the hub from which ministry to the area will extend.
We don’t actually know who is on this team yet, but the good news is that God does! In fact, He has already been working in hearts of the people He wants to have on this team and will continue to work in them as He reveals who He wants to be part of this endeavor. For our part, we are prayerfully asking God to make it clear who He has chosen for this team!
If you would like to learn more about the challenge+blessing of being a local missionary, reach out to us!