How did this all begin?
This story truly began with God’s movement in the hearts of many people over many years in and around Northwest Arkansas. This Godly movement was the beginning of a calling to plant a church. Conversations happened within the four ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) churches about responding to the growth in Northwest Arkansas with a healthy church which could meet the needs of culture in new and innovative ways. This calling and Godly movement was also rising, for many years, in the heart of Joe Liles, pastor at The Neighborhood. This is where the story began, but the story continues to unfold and you can be a part of it…
How does a person feel called to plant a church?
Joe Liles, the pastor at The Neighborhood, was part of a church plant in 2001 called, New Hope Lutheran Church in Las Vegas, NV (…what thoughts just went through your head?) . Being a part of New Hope, now looking back, was the beginning of a Godly call; a call slowly brewing like a fine cup of coffee, that takes 11 years to produce a cup (which brings us to today). Having a small taste of the organic growth of a church rising up out of community in the midst of dynamic culture all the while seeking to share a Christian message, well, once you have tasted that fine cup of Godly coffee, there is no going back.
Why Northwest Arkansas?
Northwest Arkansas is an intersection of a diverse culture in many ways: the University of Arkansas and support of all things Razorbacks; the home offices of Walmart, JB Hunt and Tyson; and also the experiences of Crystal Bridges, The jONEs Center, Pinnacle Hills, the AMP and Dickson St, to name a few. This culture is steeped in history and tradition but is also one that is marked by continued growth and development and need from among community. The need comes from families seeking food and shelter, relationships being tested and tried, faith being overrun by “obligations” and “priorities.” This field, speaking of Northwest Arkansas, is ripe for planting a church and God will do amazing things in and through this church for the community.
Bentonville is characterized by a potential for continued, healthy growth. The growth could be attributed to a number of characteristics, most namely Walmart and the Walton Family, but Bentonville is also marked by a top ranked school district growing to meet the needs of the incoming families and a master plan yielding parks, trails, improvement on infrastructure, a community center to rival The jONEs Center and recently and most notably Crystal Bridges Museum. These all come together to provide fertile ground for planting a church where God can give the growth.