Josh Kuck and his wife, Andrea, looked all over Ohio and Michigan for a city to plant a church, asking themselves two questions: Where do we fit, and where is there a need? They finally came to Chelsea, Mich. – a small city just outside of Ann Arbor that 15,000 people call home.
“We talked to everybody that we could possibly talk to,” said Kuck. “Superintendents and principals and bakery owners and people on the street. We quickly realized that the city could use a relevant gospel‑centered church.”
During one of these trips, Kuck stopped at a local bakery and struck up a conversation with a woman who worked there. He told her that he and his family planned to move to Chelsea to plant a church. About two months later, Kuck saw her again.
“When I struck up a conversation, she was kind of stand‑offish. About halfway through our forced conversation, she said, ‘Hold on. I’ve got a question for you that’s been sticking on my mind since the first time we talked. Why are you building a church in Chelsea? Why don’t you go to Detroit where you can feed them and take care of them? Chelsea people, we don’t need you.’
“Some people would have left that encounter saying, ‘Wow, this is going to be horrible.’ But it hit me right then: this is perfect! That’s what we’ve been praying for this entire time, a place that doesn’t even realize how far from God they are.”
The Kuck’s started this venture as part of a one‑year residency program at Riverview Church in Holt, Mich. Previous to attending Riverview, Kuck was a youth pastor at Grace Community Church, a Grace Brethren church in Fremont, Ohio (Kevin Pinkerton, pastor), for eight years, and before that, a junior high director at his home church, Grace Church in Wooster, Ohio (Bob Fetterhoff, senior pastor), for about six years.
Kuck is excited about implementing what he calls an old-school style of church plant. “We’re going to start Bible studies for a year out of our living room. And we’re going to let that multiply and grow however it can. Our goal is be able to launch a year from now based on the fact that people in the community know about us, they know we’re a part of them first: our kids are in the school and I’m helping out with the wrestling team and my wife helping out in the schools.”
“We’re praying that once we get at the point where we are self‑supporting, we can start providing a program where I can bring on pastors that want to be able to learn church planting and prepare to send them out. That’s one of our goals. Ultimately, we want to provide the initial start for a revival of a healthy district within the state of Michigan.”
Back to that morning conversation with the woman at the bakery?
“It’s going to take visiting that shop for the next, probably, two years, picking up Saturday morning doughnuts and saying hello to her and loving her and leaving her tips and just letting her know that she’s cared for. And our hope is that one day she’s going say, ‘You’re different.’ That’s the day I’m waiting for.”
The church, which is days away from being named, is currently home to about five core families. They have established a “Sunday Evening Gathering” dedicated to prayer, getting to know each other, and communicating vision, as well as various Bible studies. They are also currently gearing up for their first community church event.
[Connect:] Send Josh and Andrea a letter of encouragement (and sign up for their newsletter for updates on how you can pray or give) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Featured image: Josh and Andrea Kuck and their four daughters are planting a Grace Brethren church in Chelsea, Mich.)
This story first appeared in GraceConnect eNews. To subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter that includes news and information from congregations in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, click here.