Greenville Grace Church, a Grace Brethren congregation in Greenville, Ohio, has been a part of Sojourn Network, an organization which helps pastors plant, grow, and multiply healthy churches. Today, a post by Greenville Grace’s teaching pastor, Danny Wright, was featured on the Network’s blog and included an announcement that the church is planning to plant a new Grace Brethren congregation in nearby Troy, Ohio. A portion of the post is included below. Click here for the complete post.
SOJOURN STORIES: GRACE CHURCH
I can rejoice that while writing this post, our church is “pregnant.” A planter has stepped forward. A core team is forming. A city has been chosen. It’s exciting and energizing, but I’ve also been surprised at what a relief it’s been too. Never did I realize all the feelings of doubt, fear and inadequacy I was harboring until the ship started sailing. It’s been a long road, and I believe many of us in the church were starting to wonder if something was wrong with us. But just like a family that struggles to grow (either through fertility struggles or adoption processes), once you finally get that child, they are perfect for you and you wouldn’t trade that child, or the timing, for anything.
Our church does not have the normal church planting story, if such a story actually exists. Our church was started in 1999 and took off rather quickly. In fact, the rapid growth rate caused some tensions with the mother church, leaving the plant to feel rather “orphaned.” But the planter and his wife persevered, and by 2002 they had seen enough body weight, particularly from parents with teens, that they felt it was time to hire a youth pastor. I arrived at Greenville Grace excited to start a youth group, but really had a larger goal in mind. I’d been told about this church and about the planter. Others had suggested I’d be a great church planter and felt that this church would serve as a great learning experience. We were all pretty sure that I would be planting a church out of Greenville Grace in no time. We stepped into a thriving church and the growth continued. In 2004, we hired Jason Bradshaw to become our Music pastor and the church continued to grow in number and depth. I then headed for a church planting assessment. If I “passed” the assessment, everything seemed good to go.
But it wasn’t the Lord’s plan. Though the assessment went well, the Lord used it to confirm to my wife and I that the timing for planting wasn’t right, and the desire to plant wasn’t even there for us. I wasn’t sure what the Lord was doing, but circumstances quickly confirmed the Lord was up to something. Just as we were preparing to enter our own permanent facility, the original planter expressed his desire to step down. As the elder team discussed and wrestled with our next phase, it started to become apparent that God did not want me to plant a congregation, but stay and become the Teaching Pastor of the church I was already in. Our church’s desire to plant was still there, but the timing just didn’t seem right.
Committed to church planting, we sought to keep the original planter on staff and make him the Pastor of Outreach. A large part of his job description would be to devoted to recruiting, training and coaching church planters. We were committed to planting and thought maybe this would be the route by which it would come. We tried this approach for a little over a year before a family health emergency forced Daniel Pierce, the man who originally planted our church, to move away. But it wasn’t simply an issue of filling his position. As we looked, the strategy wasn’t working. We’re rural. Jobs are scarce. We’re not really in a place that people are looking to move. The growth rate at our church (though consistent) had slowed down, so it wasn’t even like we were the kind of church potential planters were dying to experience. We were going to have to consider some other option.
And here’s the irony. I became the Teaching Pastor at Greenville Grace because I did not believe God wanted me to plant a church. However, God was calling our church to replant ourselves.
Click here for the complete post.