Meet Nate Friedrichsen, church planter
Three years ago, BHITC and a collaboration of urban pastors and ministry leaders launched the Transform216 (T216) initiative to provide training and mentoring for future pastors and ministry catalysts. Dynamic, Jesus-loving leaders, such as Nate Friedrichsen, a church planter shown here with his family, are the men BHITC’s partners are supporting through this effort. He spent a few minutes sharing with us about how God is at work in his life and the vision he has for leading people closer to Jesus.
BHITC: Tell us about you. You were raised in Northeast Ohio, moved away and have now returned. What led you to come home again?
Friedrichsen: Back in 2014, LeBron James and I met at an undisclosed location and agreed we would return to Cleveland. He actually got the idea from me! While that did not happen, LeBron and I are both from Akron, left for a time and came home. My wife, Aimee, and I – our two young boys came along the way – spent seven years in Chicago before moving to Cleveland in the summer of 2015. Northeast Ohio was always home for me, but I gained a vision for the potential of local churches in and for dense and diverse urban neighborhoods through our time in Chicago.
BHITC: What about planting a new church excites you? Why do you think new churches are needed in the city?
Friedrichsen: In Cleveland, we need more churches putting down deep roots in a neighborhood, churches with long commitment in the same direction. We need more churches wherein every service and small group points Christians and non-Christians to Jesus’ life, death and resurrection every single week.
When we moved back to Cleveland, I took a position as Church Planting Resident at Heights Church in Cleveland Heights. This residency allows us to plant with the ongoing support of a church in Cleveland. By God’s grace, I am excited to plant a similar church, where God is using the ordinary means of grace to grow Christians and give new life to people with little-to-no church background.
BHITC: As you pray about the church plant you’ll lead on the near west side, what is the Lord showing you in terms of ministry opportunities?
Friedrichsen: The near west side is a fascinating cluster of neighborhoods in a city historically and currently divided along racial and socio-economic lines. In other areas of the city, these fault lines separate communities by blocks or even miles. Not so on the near west side. To say these neighborhoods are multicultural would be an understatement. The neighborhoods are also experiencing rapid transition and ongoing conversations about what the neighborhoods will become in the future. A richness to life emerges when people struggle to understand one another and work together in a way that is rather rare in our country today.
My wife and I recently bought a home in Ohio City, and we love raising a family in the middle of the opportunities and challenges that come with the neighborhood. Even if we weren’t planting a church here, there is nowhere else we would rather live.
BHITC: What will your process of engaging with the community look like? If others wanted to join your team, how could they get connected?
Friedrichsen: We plan to begin services in the fall of 2017. Over the next year, we will live in the neighborhood in order to listen and observe. There are other churches and organizations engaging the community, and we have much to learn. Along the way, we will host small groups for those considering planting with us. Our first small group began in August in Cleveland Heights on Thursday nights at 6:30 pm. We hope to have enough people to start another group at our home in Ohio City as soon as possible.
Interested in hearing more or considering joining the team? Let’s talk. Let me buy you a sandwich at Nate’s Deli (no relation!), or a coffee at Passengers Cafe, or whatever else you like in the neighborhood. You can also find further information and sign up for updates at ohiocitychurch.com.
BHITC: How has your experience so far in T216 benefitted you as a leader and helped you prepare for the church plant?
Friedrichsen: T216 has given me the opportunity to develop friendships and forge new ones with pastors and ministry-minded people working on the near west side. Because of the connections I have made through T216, I am hoping to learn from an older generation, collaborate with my generation and resource the next generation for years to come.