A New Kind Of Church

What would it look like if a church organization and its leaders believed that their primary responsibility was to get behind the unique callings of every single believer in their fellowship…helping each one develop intimacy with the Father, understand his/her unique identity as part of the Body Christ, and equipping teams of servants eager to join the Holy Spirit’s initiative to reach out to every sector of society?  

I think that most church leaders want to see this happen, but the centralized traditions and structures that we’ve inherited tend to work against it.  I believe that the traditional congregational church expression, while important, exists to serve the smaller micro-expressions of individuals and groups; and not the other way around.  This is the vision I’ve been chasing now for 13-years since starting Catalyst, with various groups and ministries along the way; and some new things are taking shape that I’m very excited about for the coming year!

As you may know, I’ve been in a course of study and coaching for the past 2 years with Underground Network in Tampa to re-ignite greater Kingdom effectiveness in our work.  This year our Board of Directors, Sean Thome’ from NW Christian Evangelistic Assoc., and Renee Boucher from 24/7 Prayer have been working on creating new descriptions & pathways for ministry based upon the successes of the Catalyst model.  This includes the creation of an “onramp” for individuals and groups to launch new “Micro-Expressions” of Church according to their own callings.  We acquired the name “Catalyst Network” to refer to the new network of Mircro-Initiatives and Micro-Churches that we envision.  

I’m not sure if you’ll be interested in reading all this, but I’ve been working hard on it and am super-stoked for what God is doing!  Here’s a sneak peak at our restated FOUNDATIONS for moving forward with the “re-launch” of the Church Side of Catalyst in 2020.  

If you have any comments, I’d love to hear them….but if the “comments” function doesn’t work for you, as I’ve been told by some, feel free to email me at [email protected]


Catalyst is a different kind of Church; an experimental community pursuing change in the church and its mission, designed to re-contextualize the Gospel of Jesus Christ to reach people in the Post-Christian Pacific Northwest.  Rather than adopting traditional models that emphasize professional leaders, costly resources and centralized programs; our passion lies in equipping ordinary individuals and small groups to incarnate the Church’s mission in the world – impacting every sphere of influence, confronting every form of evil and injustice, reaching every kind of person, in a way that unlocks the genius of the Body of Christ to effectively reach the world with the Good News.


We envision a reality where followers of Jesus are valued for their kindness and generosity toward people in their communities; demonstrating God’s presence in ways that transform neighborhoods, equip ordinary people to become His heroes, and draw new people into His family.


Catalyze God’s people to serve together as the Body of Christ in their communities.


1. INTIMACY WITH THE FATHER – We pursue unceasing connection with the Father.  
We affirm that every believer is meant to know God personally, intimately, transformationally.  This type of relationship with God is cultivated both alone and with others.  Intimacy with God grows through personal spiritual disciplines like Bible study, prayer, fasting, and meditation; as well as lifestyle choices that align us with His purposes for us.  It also grows by fellowship with other believers in worship singing, sharing concerns and testimonies, group prayer, caring for one another, and being on-mission together. 

2. IDENTITY WITH JESUS – The way of Jesus is our way. 
Before and in all things we value Jesus as the image of the invisible God. We long to worship Jesus by imitating his life, ministry, and connection with others. Both our theology and praxis are relentlessly Christological. He is our model, mentor, hero, mediator, savior, judge, king and ruler of all. All of our values flow from what we understand about his character, concerns, and the practices of his ministry. We recognize that we, His followers, are His Body in the world today, and commit to partnering together to manifest His character and mission.

3. INITIATIVE WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT – The Holy Spirit empowers us to serve and save the lost.
God’s personal favor, calling and revelation is available to every follower of Jesus by His Spirit; according to his/her specific gifts and measure of faith. We encourage use of all of the gifts shown in scripture, with appropriate order and purpose.  By walking in the Spirit – individually and corporately – we are enabled to experience His desires and plans for us, and to join Him in His work all around us.  He grants each of us supernatural abilities and relationships to carry-out His initiatives in the Church and world.  The Holy Spirit empowers us to carry Jesus’ mission into the world; including Social Justice, Evangelism, and Discipleship.

4. THE BIBLE – The Bible alone is our source of faith and practice.  
We implicitly believe in, trust, and endeavor to obey, the teachings and practices set forth in the Holy Bible. We believe that it contains the written Word of God.  It records the “salvation history” of God’s work with humankind, and details His intentions for our beliefs & practices.  We understand that there are misperceptions of the Bible, but we affirm that it is meant to be understood and championed by every follower of Jesus.  It is imperative to us that every believer be well-read in scripture, and trained in Gospel-fluency.

5. THE MISSION – The Church is a “sent people” to carry-out Jesus’ mission.  
The Church’s mission is not to perpetuate or serve itself, nor to promote comfort and prosperity for her people; but to reconcile every person in the world to the Father.  We follow Jesus’ example by seeking, sacrificing for, and saving what is lost.  Jesus’ purpose is to bring about justice for the poor, hope for the marginalized, and regeneration for the lost.  This worldwide mission is advancing, and we are part of His story – to impact every sphere of influence, confront every form of evil/injustice, to reach every person with the Gospel of Jesus.  This includes both service and salvation, works and words, all of which lead to Jesus.

6. ONE CHURCH – We work toward unity with all followers of Christ. 
We affirm that the Church is the method of God’s mission.  There is one universal Church (with a Big “C”), comprised of all followers of Jesus everywhere.  Jesus is the Head of His Church, His people who manifest His presence in the world today.  There are countless denominations, congregations, and groups who gather together for worship, discipleship, and service; but we are all members of Jesus’ diverse, worldwide Body.  We recognize that disagreements of theology and practice will arise between brothers and sisters in Christ, and that this is unavoidable; but we pledge to avoid division and work toward unity, that we may truly be “one” in heart and purpose.

7. MISSIONARIES – Every believer is an agent of God’s mission. 
All followers of Jesus have a unique calling to walk with Him in this life and to serve as His representatives in their spheres of influence. Therefore, we work towards empowering people to understand and contextualize God’s mission through them.  While we appreciate the role of clergy in the Church, we emphasize the ministry of laypeople in relation to God’s mission.  Leadership in the Church exists to equip the “priesthood of all believers” for the work of ministry. 

8. MICRO – The small, missional group is the essential unit of Church.  
We believe that the traditional congregational church expression exists to serve the smaller, micro-expression…and not the other way around.  Our ecclesiology is simple: When a group of people band together to build Intimacy with the Father, Identity as the Body of Christ, to accomplish the Initiative of the Holy Spirit in the world, they are the Church.  Intimacy, Identity and Initiative then are the ecclesial minimum.  God calls us into his mission together, in small missional groups. These groups, no matter their name or size, are the basic unit of Church; and every follower of Jesus needs to be part of at least one. Our model of Church is to affirm, empower, and release a network of Micro-Initiatives and Micro-Churches.  

9. COMPASSIONATE – We serve others in need with no strings attached.  
We affirm that compassion is the posture of God’s mission in a hurting world.  Compassion literally means to “suffer together,” and no character trait exemplifies Jesus’ interactions with people better. We’re called to constantly give ourselves away, individually and corporately caring for the needs of others.  The Work of the Gospel is to serve to the poor, marginalized, and lost; the Words of the Gospel follow.  In this way, evangelism is secondary to service.  This applies to miraculous works of the Spirit, as well as seemingly mundane acts of kindness.  

10. RELATIONAL – We prioritize healthy and caring relationships.  
We recognize that although we live in a fragmented culture characterized by broken relationships, all people need and deserve to belong – to know and be known, to care and be cared for, to love and be loved. Our goals, strategies, and endeavors are fashioned to nurture healthy and caring relationships. This begins with marriage and family, moves outward to friends and associates, and extends to society. In this way, we extend Jesus’ love to a world in need of Godly models of relationship.

11. HUMBLE – We seek humility in relation to God and others.  
We voluntarily surrender control of our decisions, aspirations, and affections to God; believing that He can be trusted with our destinies.  We also submit to one another, understanding that none of us is an island unto ourselves but that we need each other.  By pursuing humility we are able to experience God’s contentment, rest and peace in the midst of a complex, corrupt, and competitive world.  Individually and corporately, we pledge to remain open and flexible to concerns from others, new learning, and discipline from the Lord; ever seeking to refine our commitments and expand our understanding and revelation of God and His call upon us. 

12. BELONGING AND BELIEVING – We both accept and admonish each other.
We understand that every person is journeying through life, and that discovering/following Jesus is a lifelong learning process.  Therefore, we welcome all people to explore God and community with us, without excluding them based upon areas of their lives that are not yet consistent with the way of Jesus.  That being said, it is also essential that we carefully and lovingly hold each other accountable to His character and teachings.  So we live within the tension between grace and truth, acceptance and conviction; in our pursuit of loving God and loving others as Jesus modeled.

13. DIVERSE – We embrace diversity and uniqueness in the Church.  

We affirm that every ethnicity culture, and individual – while imperfect – reflects the mosaic of God’s own image and together we better glorify and serve the God of creation.  The Church is made-up of individuals and groups from countless backgrounds, beliefs, and callings.  As we all journey toward maturity in Christ together, we will naturally experience and express this in a variety of ways.  Therefore we do not reject people we disagree with, and avoid division over debatable matters.  We minimize conformity, but emphasize freedom of preference and creativity within the boundaries of God’s mission. 

By catalystshawn

Shawn is the founding Minister/Executive Director of Catalyst NW, launched in 2007. Before starting Catalyst, Shawn was a full-time Youth Pastor and Church Planter in traditional churches for 13-years. Shawn and his wife Marina live in Tualatin, OR, and are actively involved with Grace Chapel in Wilsonville. They have 2 adult kids who are their pride & joy, one funny little dog, and a cuddly cat.

2 replies on “A New Kind Of Church”

Impactful read. I agree that we are putting too much focus on the deeds of the macro church and its public achievements, and ignoring equipping the individuals who minister to those around them on a daily basis, without anyone noticing. The lay people of the church are the people who build a foundation for trust in God that is the basis of salvation. Going forward at an altar call is a result of the witness by a behind the scenes believer that resulted in the new person visiting the church in the first place. We need to invest in helping the witnesses be most effective, or we risk merely putting on a weekly show for those who already know the Lord to feel better about themselves.

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