Today we received the first major curveball of our church planting adventure. As many of you know, our target area is a large housing development known as Heartland Crossing. This morning, I had a very good visit with the properties manager of the development. I was able to let her know our church wants to be a blessing to the community in any way possible, including helping with the various events the homeowners' association puts on for the community. She seemed happy for the offer and we had a very pleasant conversation in general.
The curveball came into play when I asked her about canvassing, handing out fliers, etc. She kindly explained to me that there is no soliciting (any kind of door-to-door activity) allowed in Heartland Crossing. I also asked her about yard signs, which I intended to be a significant part of our strategy. She said these are not allowed by the covenants either. I knew there would probably be restrictions on such things when we moved to Heartland Crossing, so I wasn't completely blindsided by it, but I am a little surprised at how strict the restrictions are.
So where do we go from here? How do you get the word out about a new church when you can't advertise? One advantage we have that didn't exist ten years ago is the power of the internet, and particularly social media. (Google and Facebook are now our best friends.) But even more than this, we will be forced to grow our church the most biblical (and effective) way possible - through personal relationships and word of mouth.
For whatever reason, God has taken away some tools we were planning on using. But we firmly believe this just means He has a better way. And we look forward to being used by Him to build His church.
How this affects potential for short-term mission teams, I do not yet know. I will keep our partners posted on that... Blessings!