At The Porch, we occasionally have other churches ask us for advice on how to run a young adults ministry. Which we are happy to do, because we'd love to help resource and equip young adult ministries everywhere.
However, the question implies that we are the smart ones (we’re not) and that we have “the answer” that others do not have. Frankly, “the answer” is Jesus, and for some reason He has chosen to work through the ministry to change lives week after week. And though I thank Him for it, I don’t know why He has chosen to work here.
I realize that “I don’t know” is not a very satisfying answer. So, in case it might be helpful, I thought we could share some details about the history of The Porch, and what our part has been in this adventure so far.
(Disclaimer: I was not involved with The Porch in the beginning of the ministry. I think I was in a bar on Lower Greenville at the time, to be honest. So some of these details come from those who were already faithfully serving at that time.)
It started as an experiment.
Literally so, considering the very first meeting of what would become The Porch was a one-time event held off-campus to test and pray for the idea. That was 8 years ago this summer. The Porch was then officially launched as a weekly ministry that fall, on September 13, 2005.
T-shirts announcing the “Launch” of The Porch were handed out at the annual Labor Day Weekend Retreat, which helped lead to a new, shorter name for that event. The T-shirts also featured an illustration of a poorly-built rocket with the caption “Let’s face reality my friends…we’re not exactly rocket scientists.” So, from the start, it was acknowledged that nobody knew whether this would work and that we were basically making it up as we went along.
That continues to this day, as we are regularly trying new things. Some succeed, some fail, and some actually fail at first and then come back and succeed.
It didn’t come from nothing.
Watermark did have an active young adults ministry before The Porch. It had community groups, the aforementioned annual retreat, and occasional social events. It just didn’t have a consistent worship service where everybody came together in one place.
The fact that there was something is important, though, because it means there were people praying for it and invested in it from the beginning. Volunteers were already in place before the first “official” Porch, which is important, because:
It is run by volunteers.
In fact, as it has grown, The Porch has become more and more volunteer-driven.
A big turning point occurred about 4 years ago, when we took our volunteers and split them into different teams focused on different parts of the ministry. Instead of just showing up and being available, they each had an area to own and become excellent at.
Instead of greeters, we had evangelists. Instead of ushers, we had biblical counselors. The bar was raised for everyone. We put faithful volunteers as leaders over the teams, and then just let them do what God had called them to do—lead.
Now we have well over 100 lay pastors at The Porch, who must go through a 2-month training program before they can start to serve as volunteers. They are the ones God is using to make a difference in the lives of young adults in Dallas.
We don’t shy away from Truth.
“Authentic” is a key word around here. We don’t water things down or try to pretend. We deal with reality, and in reality we are sinful people living in a fallen world. It gets uncomfortable sometimes, and can drive off people who are not yet willing to change.
It is worth noting that a few of the sermon podcasts come with an “explicit content” warning, and that some of the pages on this very blog are flagged as “mature” by Covenant Eyes. But we are all adults here, and can handle the truth. What’s important is that we keep our eyes focused on The Truth.
We are on a mission.
Though much has changed, at the core The Porch has stayed the same. That’s because we don’t have a “worship service”; we have a mission.
It is embedded into the very name. “The Porch” is an entryway for the people of the city into our home, where we live as a family. It is also a place for us to see the world outside, and go out into that world the rest of the week and minister to our neighbors.
I pray that this is still just the beginning of our mission. Will you join us?