Emphasizing people over production.
That’s one focus of pastor Justin Gingrich and Restore Houston, a church that plans to open in August in the Garden Oaks or Oak Forest neighborhood.
“I think that even in a city full of churches there’s a lot of us who haven’t found a place we can really belong,” Gingrich said. “I think a lot of us are weary of big production. We were wanting something that went back to the simplicity of loving Jesus and loving others.”
Restore Houston is considered a daughter church of Redemption Church of Houston, where Gingrich served in the youth ministry. Since deciding to open a new church in late 2019, he said its launch with a location was pushed back due to the pandemic. While the church is looking at multiple properties in the area, according to Gingrich, it does not have a permanent address.
However, since April the church has met every first Sunday of the month at Walking Stick Brewing Co., 956 Judiway St. The last sermon at the local brewery is slated for July as the church plans to gather in a building Aug. 8.
There’s also multiple small groups all over Houston that meet under the Restore umbrella, Gingrich said.
“We’ll move to meeting every Sunday (in August),” Gingrich said, “but the heart behind our church is our small groups. Ultimately, I don’t think my preaching is going to change anyone’s lives, or anyone’s preaching. I think people’s lives are changed with community.”
Gingrich said part of building that community of friendship, one of the values at Restore, is its other value, humility. More specifically, the church aims to foster a sense of humility that can allow two different people from different backgrounds to practice their faith together and become friends.
For Gingrich, that type of community is built in a space where people can be “fully accepted, fully loved and fully known.” From personal experience, Gingrich knows how important such a space is.
Diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder in his early 20s, Gingrich said he never found a place where he felt he could be completely himself until he began attending Redemption.
“Gradually as I found healing, I felt, and my wife felt, a sense of urgency to start other churches where we could do the same things,” Gingrich said. “A community where grace, the love of Jesus, can restore and fully heal.”
Gingrich said Restore strives to be a church where people can share their lives with one another, where no one is just a face in the crowd and where whatever is going on in someone’s life doesn’t hinder them from experiencing Jesus' love.
Even though Restore doesn't yet have a permanent address, Gingrich said it always has intended to be a neighborhood-centered church.
“Restore Houston is also part of our mission statement,” Gingrich said. “Part of our heart and vision is that ‘grace restores all things.' We want to be a blessing to our neighborhood and getting involved with other organizations, like anti-human trafficking.”
For updates on Restore Houston, visit restorehouston.org or follow the church on social media @restorehtx.