the shape of leadership

Co-Pastoring for the Good of the Community

A Q&A With Paul and Christina Hanfere

Influence Magazine on May 8, 2019

Paul and Christina Hanfere serve as co-pastors of Overflow City Church (Assemblies of God), which launched on Sept. 9, 2018, in Silver Spring, Maryland, near the nation’s capital. The Hanferes are helping make a difference in one of the most unchurched communities in the nation.

INFLUENCE: What were the keys to Overflow City Church’s successful launch?
The first was a personal dependence on prayer. This carried over into our launch team meetings. We went on fasts and multiple prayer walks around our future meeting facility and the surrounding areas.

Prayer has been the heartbeat of our church from day one, and will continue to be. St. Augustine said, “Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.” This is something we try to live by.

Receiving a God-given vision for the church plant was invaluable to our launch as well. There are many good visions; what makes a difference is having God’s vision for the church. Once the vision was received, we began to cast it in a clear and strategic way for people to understand and remember it, because vision leaks. It was woven into everything we did so everyone could connect what we were doing to the vision.

Lastly, we were intentional about engaging with our community in meaningful ways. We fostered relationships with local city representatives, business owners and people in the community.

“There are many good visions; what makes a difference is having God’s vision for the church.”
— Paul and Christina Hanfere

How is the church’s presence making a difference in your community?
The greater Washington, D.C., area is one of the wealthiest, most educated, and most influential places in the world. However, it also has some of the nation’s highest drug addiction, divorce, homeless and poverty rates. If finances, legislation or education could have solved these issues, things would have been fixed a long time ago.

We believe the only solution is Jesus. That is why the message of the gospel is at the core of every gathering, and is preached and taught unapologetically. We give an opportunity for people to make a decision to follow Christ every Sunday. By doing this, we have seen people make that choice nearly every week since we launched.

How do you make the co-pastoring arrangement work for you and your church?
Open and clear communication is necessary regarding all ministry and marital matters. When communication breaks down, other problems will follow. Something that has helped us keep the communication channels open is counseling sessions. We also work to create healthy ministry and life boundaries. We have technology blackout times every day and once-a-week date nights.

OCC’s ministry philosophy is to do a few things exceptionally well. What are some of those things?
We believe that less is more when it’s done in excellence. Part of our vision is for people to encounter God. So at our Sunday gatherings, we want to create a worship experience that’s done in excellence while making room for God to move.

Children’s ministry is not a babysitting service at OCC, but a ministry that is just as vital as it is for the adults. We work hard to create a fun and safe environment where children can learn about Jesus in a way that is relevant to their age and grow in their relationship with God. All of our children’s workers are passionate about serving in this area, and seeing children grow in their faith.

In just a few months, we have also done numerous focused outreaches to impact our community for Christ. A saying that’s common around OCC is, “There is no such thing as a successful church in an unsuccessful community.”

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2019 edition of Influence magazine.

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