Tim and Melissa Heerebout our native Canadians with a heart for their country’s largest and most influential city – Toronto. They moved into the urban center last summer hoping God would use them to start a new church in and for the city. You can follow their journey at http://www.luvisaverb.com/.

A little more than two years ago my wife and I had our first child. The best piece of parenting advice we’ve gotten, and you get a lot when you’re pregnant, was this: start with the end in mind. I’ve found this tiny phrase to have huge application in my thought processes in birthing a new faith community.

It seems to me that most church planters want to reach the people around them. They want a church that reflects a culture that is indigenous to their town. However, rather than starting by identifying with and becoming a part of that culture from the outset, the default starting position tends to be to bring church culture to the table. We assume church needs to look like, well, church. It doesn’t seem like we’re starting with the end in mind.

With that on our hearts, our approach has been different. Our first move is not to bring church to Toronto. It’s to bring love; to serve and bring energy into our local culture. We’ve launched an organization called Voxtropolis that seeks only the good of the city and places us squarely in the midst of culture creation as artists and promoters who leverage our talents for social justice. It is not, and I can’t stress this enough, and will never be a church. Even so, it’s doing remarkable good and placing us squarely in the middle of Toronto’s creative community as people of value, impact and influence.

In doing so our web of relationships has grown amazingly. In just four months we were able to organize a team of 11 volunteers and almost a dozen artists to host an event for more than 100 people. We raised $760 for Habitat for Humanity. The majority of the people there weren’t believers.

Starting this way is giving us keen insight into the heart of Toronto. It’s showing us how God is already moving. It’s providing a web of relationships we’d otherwise never have. We’ve started in the culture, for the culture, so that we can plant out of the culture. I look around at our events and think “this is what I want our faith community to feel like”. There was something strangely familiar about that feeling; like I was a proud father holding a newborn again. It will take time, maybe a long time, but I can’t help but believe that starting with the end in mind isn’t giving us an edge towards success.