Kensington Church - Discipleship and Outreach Strategies
1825 E Square Lake Rd, Troy, MI 48085
Kensington Church is a non-denominational evangelical community that has six campuses across Michigan. Based in Troy, Kensington is known for its informal atmosphere and concert-like services. Kensington's average weekly attendance at its churches — called campuses — is about 12,000, with about 40,000 during the holidays. Each campus is staffed with a local pastor, a discipleship director, a worship director, and several directors for student ministries and guest services. Kensington has a multi-faceted approach to building relationships with members to help them grow as disciples of Jesus.
Kensington has a multi-faceted approach is manifested in the way they welcome newcomers, in the breadth of their service and pastoral support ministries, as well as their emphasis and attention to small group communities.
Visitors to Kensington are invited to visit the Hub, a place for newcomers to get a free coffee and to meet the local Kensington leaders to find out more about ways to get connected. Kensington also offers Discovering Kensington, an hour-long, informal event, offered regularly at each campus. This event is an opportunity for newcomers to meet campus leaders, learn about their mission and values, discover ways to get connected at Kensington, and ask questions.
Kensington has a family pre-registration process as well as a membership application. Applicants receive follow-up correspondence to invite them to events that are easy first steps (low-level in terms of commitment and cost). The follow-up process involves several rounds of communication. The purpose of the low-level events is relationship building; they are usually scheduled around seasonal activities (i.e. fall festival, pumpkin painting, etc.) and have an emphasis on community-building and family time. When newcomers attend these events, they are invited to other events that focus more on discipleship.
Each year, Kensington mobilizes thousands of people to respond to God’s call to serve others. Whether it’s cleaning up a park in Detroit, repairing automobiles for single mothers, caring for the sick, bringing the arts to local children, reaching the marginalized abroad, or training the next generation of leaders – it’s all done with the same heart and goal: to be the church the other six days of the week. Kensington sees outreach as relationships rather than events, as people rather than projects, as simply loving one’s neighbor as Christ does.
Kensington offers opportunities for members to join an existing service team or to form a new team around a new cause. Members can sign up through the website. Kensington’s website provides a whole host of local service opportunities as well has overseas mission trips. In addition, Kensington has a school partnership program where volunteers can serve at local public schools that don’t have room moms/dads or don’t have active parent groups. Volunteers serve as classroom helpers, morning greeters, library helpers, book club leaders, coaches, or can serve occasional needs such as helping with holiday parties and being guest readers.
Kensington provides support for members through the various challenges of life. Through their support programs, members learn practical skills, gain wisdom, and build relationships with others. Their offerings include: Celebrate Recovery – An addiction recovery program for the whole family: adults, teens, and kids. It is a confidential, biblically-based program that offers support and hope for the hurts, habits, and hang-ups of life.
- Grief Share – A study designed to lead participants through the process of grief and recovery.
- Divorce Recovery – A workshop combining expert speakers and small group discussion.
- Marriage & Family – Resources and support for marrieds and families.
Kensington also posts a list of counselors they trust on their website.
Small Groups and Courses
Small groups are a key to the culture of Kensington.. Small groups allow members to pray together, read Scripture, share life together, and minister to each other along the way. The Kensington website is setup to search by zip code, city or interest to sign up for a small group. Kensington offers small groups for the following:
- 18/29 (Young Adults)
- Mixed (Singles and Married)
Kensington capitalizes on the seasons of the year to invite people to join small groups. In these “seasons”, people are more open to invitation: September (new school year) and January (New Year resolutions when people are more open to go back to church after attending Christmas services). Kensington encourages members to just jump in and try it for a few weeks. Groups tend to have an open door policy. People who are part of a small group are the best promoters of it.
Kensington puts a strong emphasis on training small group leaders. Small group leaders are vetted through an application process and a face-to-face meeting. As a leader at Kensington, it is expected that the leader will live in a Christ-like way. As a result, leaders are asked to sign a lifestyle agreement so that they can be accountable for their behavior. At the conclusion of the vetting process, leaders are required to take new leader training. The training concentrates on human formation (listening, facilitating discussion, etc.) and Scripture as well as the simple logistics of leading groups. After the initial training, Kensington offers quarterly ongoing training where new content is reviewed. In addition, Kensington also has a culture of coaching for its leaders. For example, the campus discipleship director at the Birmingham campus has responsibility over 30 small group leaders. She receives assistance from 3 other coaches to manage this group. Coaching involves offering encouragement, troubleshooting, and provides a system of accountability.
In addition to small groups, Kensington offers Alpha and Bible Basics courses as well as courses on topics important to their congregation, such as managing personal finances.
Kensington engages families in a variety of ways including shallow entry points for new families, numerous marriage ministries, opportunities for family small groups, and a whole host of programs for children and youth.
Kensington has a pre-registration process for new families. Applicants receive follow-up correspondence and are invited to fun family-based events that are focused on relationship building. Events are scheduled around seasonal activities and are used as opportunities to invite families to other activities.
Kensington offers a variety of marriage ministries including a 6 month marriage prep program, vertical marriage groups, troubled marriage support, marriage counseling resources, and marriage mentor couples. They also offer support for blended families and divorce recovery.
Christian parenting is supported through family small groups and church events. This includes the following courses: Intentional Parenting: 10 Ways to be an Exceptional Parent in a Quick Fix World, Parenting Through the Phases Small Group Study, and Parental Guidance Required, a practical resource through Rightnow Media that encourages parents to look at the relationships in their children's lives and ask the important questions.
Kensington also offers programming for high school, middle school and grade school students during weekend services:
- Edge is a weekly experience for high school students to connect with friends and take ownership of what they believe. They get real about a relationship with Jesus and have a lot fun while doing it! From high production events to small groups Edge is a place to belong and be known.
- Breakaway is a middle school program where students have a place to belong, a place to have fun, and a place to explore their faith. They spend time together in large group where they learn about Jesus in a powerful and relevant way.
- Kkids is for children elementary age and younger. Babies and toddlers receive nurturing care and have fun activities in a safe and loving environment. Preschoolers and elementary kids participate in high-energy music, creative lessons and games, and have tons of fun learning about Jesus.
For the above groups, Kensington use a curriculum called Orange that promotes partnership between churches and parents in raising kids in faith. Yellow is the church (the light of Christ). Red is the heart of the family. Yellow + Red = Orange. The two entities need to work together in order to be successful. Orange provides content for use at church and content for parents to help them take the message home and reinforce it.
Kensington also has a one-of-a kind arts program called Kaleo-Kids that develops leadership skills. Elementary school students rotate through high-impact classes in music, dance, and drama, and participate in a large group session where they explore God’s love and the different ways they can share that love with others. Each session ends in a performance on the “Big Stage” and a school assembly performance for school partners.
Kensington hosts numerous camps for families. Kensington hosts a 1-week Spring Hill day camp at each of its six campuses as well as a men’s retreat in the fall, a women’s retreat in the spring, and a 3-day family retreat at Spring Hill camp in the summer. Families stay together in a cabin of their choosing. Families have the run of the camp: swimming, boating, zip lines, etc. The camp program includes 4 parenting sessions where parents receive coaching and equipping for leading their family. During the parent sessions, kids break off into age-appropriate groups. Camp attendance each year is about 400-500.