Written by: Chris Galanos
You are probably reading this because you heard we’re moving to DFW (Dallas Fort Worth in Texas) & you’re curious to hear the story of how God led us to this point. Well, I’m glad you’re here. It’s been an exciting journey!
Before I get into the back story, let me cut to the chase.
The reason we’re moving to DFW is because God has spoken to us through his Word, through prayer, through circumstances, and through the counsel of other believers and led us to move to DFW to become eLife church planters among the Thai people. And we want to be obedient to him!
That’s the short version. Here’s the longer version.
We love Lubbock! I was born & raised here & have spent almost all 38 years of my life here. We consider this our home. We planted an amazing church here called Experience Life (or eLife for short). eLife has become a network of many churches now meeting in 12 different states. God has blown our minds by all he has done since we started the church 12 years ago. Many of our closest friends are in our network of churches. We are definitely not leaving Lubbock because we don’t love Lubbock or have a vision for this city. We do!
In fact, our vision in our 2nd decade at eLife was not just for Lubbock but for reaching the 1,000,000 people in the West Texas region. And, believe it or not, we are well on our way! Movement researcher Justin Long has found that with a multiplicative disciple-making strategy like DMM, “A team of 2-3 can reach 100,000.” We knew that to be positioned well to make disciples of the 1,000,000 in West Texas, we needed at least 10 teams of 2-3 people. We have many more than that now. If the wind of the Spirit blows into our raised sails, we are prepared to see movements that could reach the million.
If you look at Paul’s missionary journeys in the Book of Acts, he’d often go to a new place, help the movement of reproducing churches get started and then move on to the next place to catalyze the next movement of reproducing churches. Even though the area was not fully reached by the time he left, he could say like he did in Romans 15:23, “There is no place left for me to work in these regions…” Meaning, the spark had been lit, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, what he catalyzed would continue to spread. He was free to leave and begin catalyzing movements in other places.
I’ve sensed the Lord saying something similar to me about my role in West Texas. The spark has been lit, the teams are in place, godly leadership is giving it direction, it’s beginning to multiply, and it’s time to move to my next assignment.
Just like Paul would revisit the churches that he planted, I will continue to remain in a leadership role in West Texas and plan to travel here as often as needed to cast vision, train, and coach the believers in our network as we continue to pray toward making disciples that reach the million.
Really, the only thing that’s changing is where my family and I will be living.
Here’s where DFW comes into the picture.
Each of our DMM churches desires to be a missionary-sending church. In fact, we’ve encouraged each of our churches to have a “prayer goal” of sending one person per year from their church to the nations. Thailand is a country that eLife has been praying for and sending workers to for years. Many of our DMM churches are regularly praying that God would raise up workers from their church to work among the Thai people (Matthew 9:37-38).
The Thai people are among the Unreached People Groups (UPGs) of the world. That means they are less than 2% evangelical Christian. Without outside assistance, it would be difficult for them to reach their own population. The two largest Thai people groups, the Central Thai and Isan Thai, are both 0.27% Christian. Think about that. Thai people can live their whole lives and never meet a Christian, see a Bible, or hear the gospel.
The very idea of UPGs should be intolerable to all of us & yet there are still 7,410 UPGs in the world today (joshuaproject.net). The “good news” is too good for there to be people in our world who have never heard it. You can read more about our vision for Thailand here.
Anyway, over the last year, our DMM church has regularly prayed that God would raise up someone in our church to work among the Thais. Each family in our church has expressed willingness to go if God were to send us. Emilie & I began to ask, “Lord, is it us? Would you like us to be workers among the Thai people?”
During this season, a friend and DMM mentor of mine, Roy Moran, sent me a spreadsheet that deeply impacted me. It was called the UPG matrix. This spreadsheet contained major concentrations of UPGs that live in the US. As I scrolled down to the “T’s”, I saw Thais listed as having major concentrations in the US. In fact, I learned that the US has the largest concentration of Thais outside of Thailand. When I looked to see where the concentrations were, I saw DFW on the list. Later, I found out that DFW has the largest concentration of Thai people in Texas.
I immediately told my wife and we began to pray.
We’ve been open to moving to Thailand to reach Thais, but with the influence of eLife and our book across the nation, and the number of pastors we’re training/coaching, we sensed from the Lord that engaging Thais in the US would allow us to continue our current ministry while at the same time allowing us to focus on catalyzing movements among a UPG. The dream would be that movements would break out among the Thais in DFW that would spread to Thai populations around the globe, especially in Thailand. In many ways, the nations have come to us here in the US and we can be a part of “making disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:16-20) right here in our own country in some of the “global gateway cities” where these UPGs reside in large concentrations.
Through months of praying, searching Scripture, listening to Jesus, & speaking with others, we felt led by the Spirit to relocate to the DFW area to engage Thais there, while at the same time staying involved in what’s happening in West Texas and around the nation through our church planting efforts.
The eLife elders & our own DMM church have affirmed this leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives & are eager to send us to the next assignment God has for us as eLife church planters among the Thais.
Much of what I do day-to-day in leading, training & coaching churches and pastors across the nation is online, so I’m still able to do that regardless of where we live. In fact, now that the eLife network of churches is in 12 states, my location in any one place is not entirely necessary.
Another reason we are very excited about this move is that we are in the process of adopting a child (or possibly children) from Thailand. This has been a life-long dream for Emilie & I and it gives us tremendous access to engage Thai communities in DFW. We’ve already taken several vision trips to DFW to meet the Thai community there & the Lord has affirmed his leading for our family through those encounters. We met one Thai man who almost immediately after meeting us looked at me and said, “I think God has sent you here to help us.” We were amazed to find that God is already at work in DFW among the Thais & we will get to join him in what he’s doing.
Some of you may wonder how we’ll support ourselves. The Lord has provided. In 2019, we were able to fully transition off the payroll at eLife because my side real estate business was providing for all of our needs. This continues to be the case. I have a team that runs the business which allows me to only spend 5-10 hours per week in the business. As a result, I can spend most of my time in ministry making disciples, planting new churches, and training/coaching pastors all across the country. The team will continue to run the real estate business in Lubbock.
If you’ve made it this far in the blog post, I just want to thank you for caring about our journey & invite you to pray with us for the Thais in DFW. Please pray that movements would be started among them that would result in more movements being started in Thailand through networks of family and friends. Pray also that very soon Thais would not be listed as a UPG but would rather be on the list of countries with the highest percentage of Christians and highest percentage of missionaries being sent around the world. To God be the glory!
Let me answer a few questions you might have as you’ve read this.
- Was there something about Lubbock that made you leave?
- Not at all. We love Lubbock and apart from the Lord sending us to the Thais in DFW, we’d probably live here forever. We had no desire to leave & consider this our home.
- Will you still be connected to eLife?
- Absolutely! Even more so! We’re being sent by eLife! I lead the eLife Board of Directors and will continue to do so. I’ll also continue to help give oversight and leadership to the eLife network of churches in West Texas and all across the country.
- Will you still be involved in Lubbock?
- Definitely! Most of my involvement with our Lubbock churches already happens online or over the phone and that won’t change. I’ll continue to be involved in coaching & training churches here. In addition, I’m sure I’ll come out for special gatherings, trainings, and events that our churches will have here. I don’t expect my involvement in the West Texas vision to change at all, besides the fact that I won’t be actually living here.
- Are you going to start another church?
- If by “church” you mean the traditional model of church like eLife was in the first 10 years, then no. But if by “church” you mean DMM churches, yes, I’m hoping we see thousands of them started among Thai people in DFW and around the world.
- What is DMM and how is eLife implementing it?