When Ignite Church lead pastor John Flatman was called to plant a church in DeSoto County, the Detroit, Michigan native who has also done “church on the street” ministry in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was a bit surprised about the Godly urge to start a ministry here.
He was obedient to the call, but, after all, Flatman knew the area was smack dab in the middle of the Bible Belt.
“Being from up north, we know of the tremendous need up there,” Flatman said. “For us, it’s really about reformation, taking traditional churches away from the way it’s always been done and taking that back to the original template.”
Flatman points to Ephesians 4 and how the Apostle Paul laid out how churches should be governed, with apostles, prophets, a teacher, evangelist and pastors, what he calls a “five-fold ministry,” instead of one person leading the flock.
“Right now, all we have is a pastor,” Flatman said. “Most churches are pastoral, which is good, however the pastor’s role was never meant to govern the church. The foundation of the church is to be built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets.”
Ignite Church, now located at 8920 MidSouth Drive, in the mall across the parking lot from the Pizza Hut off Highway 305, is now in its third location. Flatman said the church first met in the YMCA of Olive Branch, then took a space in the College Station center further north on Highway 305 from their present location.
The “storefront” type of church provides advantages to them, Flatman said.
“What we found is, debt is one of the killers of the church,” he noted. “It’s not that we’re against ‘brick-and-mortar,’ or that we think it is not possible. It’s a matter of whether we want to get involved in debt in order have a building. If we could do it debt-free, that’s the way we would go.”
Flatman said those who come find a “great mix of people.”
“We have whites, Hispanics, African-Americans,” Flatman said. “It’s really neat to see the intermixing of the races. It is such a beautiful thing because each culture brings something that is unique to the plate.”
It is that diversity Ignite Church wants to foster, as Flatman said racial reconciliation remains high on what he wants to see in the church.
“Part of our heart is to create an atmosphere and a culture that really cultivates an idea of bringing that racial reconciliation to the region,” Flatman said. “That wall needs to come down and we’ve got to be about bringing unity within the church and specifically as it relates to the racial issue.”
Ignite is part of the Kingdom Global Network of 26 churches in close to a half-dozen states, but also in Uganda and with a strong presence of 15 churches in Brazil, Flatman said.
The belief system is fully based on the Apostles' Creed.
“We’ve tweaked it a little bit, so it fits more of what we believe, but for the most part, it follows the Apostles' Creed as what we believe,” he said. “Our core beliefs are all founded in the Apostles' Creed. We exist to ignite people’s lives and live to inspire, impact and invest into people’s lives to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Flatman adds, “We are not church as normal, we want to be ministering to church misfits who are finding a place in Christ.”
For more information on Ignite Church, visit ignitechurchob.tv.
Bob Bakken is Managing Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.