Earlier this week we announced that H.O.P.E. Community Church will begin formal services in Allentown, PA later this summer. Emmanuel Suarez, a graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary and the Sovereign Grace Pastors College, has been diligently preparing to be sent from Grace Community Church with his family and church planting team.
Emmanuel recently took some time to update us on this church plant so we can better support him, his family, and all those involved with our prayers. You can read part 1 here. Today we bring you part 2 of this interview.
What influence did the Pastors College and your church planting residency have on your vision for this church plant?
The Lord provided several blessings during my time at the Pastors College (PC) that I believe will continue to benefit and influence the vision for the church plant. First, having just graduated from Westminster Theological Seminary the same year, the time at the PC provided me the opportunity to strengthen and reinforce my theological foundation in Scripture, which is vitally important for any church plant. Second, it turns out that I attended the PC during one of the most difficult seasons in SGM. Nevertheless, it gave all of us at the PC front row seats to observe and learn how to begin to prayerfully navigate real problems that will come to all churches. Third, I value the friendships that I have come to know through the PC. Particularly, there’s a group of us from the Northeast who are either in the process of planting churches or are already in significant pastoral situations. This group has been meeting periodically for a time of fellowship, but it also provides a context to listen and learn from the other church planters. Not to mention that these brothers provide a real context for the formation of a meaningful gospel partnership with other local churches.
My church-planting residency has afforded me the opportunity to observe and learn from my pastors at Grace, particularly in counseling, church discipline situations as well as administration. In addition, my residency has been absolutely vital for making the necessary preparations of planting a church. I am discovering that it takes a lot of time and effort to plant a church. The residency frees me up to focus on the church plant and spend quality time in Allentown.
Where is your church planting team coming from? What are some things you're grateful for about those going with you to Allentown?
Most of our church planting team is coming from my sending church, Grace Community Church. There are numbers things that I’m really grateful to God for those who are coming with me to Allentown. First of all, we have a group who are spiritually hungry to see God pour out his Spirit in Allentown. Since January of this year, we have met weekly for a time devoted to prayer, worship, and intercession. It has been exciting to observe how the Holy Spirit continues to give a spiritual increase to the group displayed in a greater intensity, faith and joy in prayer. Secondly, I am also grateful for the variety of people the Lord has brought together for this plant. It’s a mix of seasoned, mature adults combined with a solid core of young adults. This kind of mix will be particularly ideal for our children’s outreach focus. Third, I am grateful for the faith that the group has demonstrated in their willingness to sacrifice personal comforts in order to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ into a poor and needy community.
Can you describe your partnership with Grace Community Church, your sending church?
My partnership with Grace Community Church (Grace) has been foundational for the church plant in many ways. Grace has willingly surrendered families that have effectively and faithfully served in the church for many years. As a result of Grace’s generosity, the Lord has surrounded me with men and women of wisdom and experience. Another demonstration of the support that Grace has given to the plant is that they are sponsoring the Run for H.O.P.E. 5K event in Souderton, PA. The purpose of this event will be to raise funds for the church plant in Allentown. There has also been discussion of forming a permanent e-team from the members of Grace that would be dedicated for providing regular support for outreaches in Allentown. Undoubtedly, given the nature of this church plant in an urban poor inner-city community, sustaining a lasting and meaningful partnership with Grace will be vital for the gospel to go forward in Allentown through H.O.P.E.
As a church planter, how is partnership with Sovereign Grace helpful to you?
As described above, my partnership with Sovereign Grace (SGM) is most visibly expressed through our vital partnership with Grace Community Church. But in addition to our partnership with Grace Community Church, it is our sincere desire to see the same kind of partnerships form with other Sovereign Grace churches. As a church plant in an urban poor area, we are very much aware of the difficulties and challenges that will confront the church plant. We will need the prayer, financial, and resource support of many churches and organizations. My partnership with SGM has also been specifically helpful in the number of resources and information that is made available to church planters. Like I said earlier, planting a church involves a lot of different disciplines. I am grateful that I do not have to figure it out all by myself. These SGM resources release me to focus on the necessary matters of the plant and not be bogged down with administrative details. Another benefit of a partnership with SGM arises out of the religious context of inner city Allentown. Inner city Allentown has an over-abundance of small independent Pentecostal churches. I’ve observed, in many cases, that communicating to residents in the community that we are part of an organization brings immediate credibility. Some in the community are simply exasperated by all the church splits that have led to more independent, unaccountable churches. Being a part of SGM will be helpful to avoid this characterization.
How can we be praying for you and for the church plant?
As any plant, we are in need of much prayer. We greatly covet and appreciate the prayer of God’s people. Please pray for the following:
- Pray that the Lord would continue to sustain me and my family in the power of his grace and grant me his wisdom to faithfully serve his people
- Pray for the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon the entire church planting team
- Pray for a move of God in Allentown, especially among the children and youth
- Pray that the work needed to get the building to conform to code be done quickly and cost-effectively, and that we would be given much favor with the Allentown building code inspectors.
- Pray that Lord would give us the gift of wisdom and creativity as we prepare for a major children’s outreach program to launch the church.
How can those interested in the church find out more?
If anyone would like more information on the Allentown church plant they can visit our web page at http://www.allentownhopechurch.org. Also, I can be reached directly by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
We're excited to announce that H.O.P.E. Community Church will begin formal services in Allentown, PA later this summer. Emmanuel Suarez, a graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary and the Sovereign Grace Pastors College, has been diligently preparing to be sent from Grace Community Church with his family and church planting team. Their mission is to build a house of prayer and exultation by magnifying the supremacy of God's glory in Jesus Christ over all things for the joy of all peoples.
Emmanuel recently took some time to update us on this church plant so we can better support him, his family, and all those involved with our prayers.
First of all, when and where will your church begin?
Our hope is to begin formal services Sunday, July 7th, 2013. We will be meeting in a building in inner city Allentown that was formerly used for light manufacturing. However, the building requires a number of modifications to be made in order to bring it up to code, which could potentially impact our plans to launch July 7th. Either way, we are planning to do a children’s outreach program in the parking lot of the church building the first week in July that will officially introduce the church to the community.
What drew you to the idea of planting in Allentown?
The idea of planting in the inner city area of Allentown emerged out of my experience as a landlord in inner city Allentown. Being landlord in Allentown afforded me the opportunity to observe what life was like in this community. It did not take long to observe the economic, domestic and most importantly the spiritual crisis that many in this community lived with. As a result, I would often find myself praying for my tenants and being affected by the challenges that they faced daily. The other thing I observed was that there was hardly any kind of visible gospel presence in the community. So directing my tenants and other residents to a church close by in the community that was faithfully preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ was always a challenge. There was clearly a need for a church that would not only meet in that community but that would joyfully embrace that community with the love of Christ.
What unique challenges and blessings do you think planting in Allentown will present?
There are both many challenges and blessings to planting in Allentown. However due to time and space I will not be able to indicate all. But let me highlight just a few. First of all, the economic crisis will clearly present a unique challenge of planting in Allentown. Because of the lack of a thriving job market, there is a large percentage of the population that live day by day trying to find odd jobs and/or have become heavily dependent on government subsidies. Therefore being able to financially sustain this work will present a unique challenge to the plant. Not to mention, the constraint on available time due to the need for many to work multiple jobs. Another challenge that planting in Allentown will present is that inner city Allentown unfortunately suffers from having a bad reputation. Therefore, maintaining a committed permanent presence in the community can be challenging since many are looking to move out of inner city Allentown into what they might consider to be greener pastures. For that same reason, attracting others to come into inner city Allentown will also be a challenge. Notwithstanding, there are also many unique blessings to planting in Allentown. The poverty and needs that are present in inner city Allentown provides a rich context for exciting gospel opportunities where the Holy Spirit can bring a mighty hope and consolation for the hopeless. Also, inner city Allentown is a city with a high population of children and youth. We have a wonderful opportunity to affect the up and coming generation with the grace and love of Jesus Christ and see a progressive and lasting change in a community that has seen much decline over the last several decades.
What do you think is the most important principle to keep in mind for "urban church planting"?
There are many biblical principles that are vital for any church whether they are “urban”, “suburban”, etc. So it’s difficult to pick the most important principle. But in our case, I would say that there are two controlling principles that the Holy Spirit seems to be driving deep in our hearts. The first principle is the principle of God’s glory. The Holy Spirit has been pressing on our hearts the supremacy of God’s glory in Jesus Christ over ALL things. We must be taught by the Spirit to genuinely desire God’s glory in Jesus Christ over all things. The danger of church planting in an urban poor community is that we can easily become overwhelmed in trying to meet the needs of the community. We can become totally motivated only by the desire to alleviate human suffering. Yet, there is something infinitely greater in value than satisfying human needs, that is, the glory of God displayed in Jesus Christ. In fact, man’s greatest need is never a job or housing, but to exult in the magnificence of the glory of Christ. If we are going to see a genuine revival in Allentown, we must learn to be radically governed by this principle in everything we do. The second principle is the principle of self-conscious dependence on God. The desperate needs in the community will make it virtually impossible for our church to spiritually coast on autopilot. The needs will demand an ever-growing self-conscious dependence on the power of God through the dynamic leading and ministry of the Holy Spirit. For that reason, we hope to cultivate the ministry of corporate prayer, worship and intercession as an expression of this fundamental principle of self-conscious dependence on God.
Can you tell us the story behind the name H.O.P.E. Community Church?
The story behind this name converges on several points. First of all, as I began to consider the prevailing mood and attitude that characterized many in inner city Allentown, the one word that kept coming to me was ‘hopelessness’. I even questioned some of my tenants and residents in the community to see what was their perception. Not surprisingly, many described life in inner city Allentown in terms of ‘hopelessness’. Eventually, it became evident to me that what Allentown needs most is the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ to undermine the prevailing hopelessness that many live under. The second point that converges on the name H.O.P.E. took place a couple of years ago. The Holy Spirit began to impress upon my heart his desire to raise a church in inner city Allentown with a particular focus on the ministry of corporate prayer, worship and intercession. The Holy Spirit used passages in Matt. 21:13, Isaiah 56:7 and 2 Chronicles 1-7 to press his intended desire for His house in my heart. Put it simply, He made it clear to me that His house is always called “a house of prayer”. In other words, the most fundamental activity in God’s House is devotion to prayer and seeking after God. Interestingly, several months ago, I began to ask the Lord, “Why is your house called a ‘house of prayer’?” Why not a house of praise or a house of preaching? Well, after a few days of meditating on Matthew 21:13 in search of an answer to that question, the Lord led me to read the next verse 14 – “And the blind and lame came to Him in the temple, and he healed them.” Immediately, I understood that God desires a house of prayer so that the broken and needy may come to him and be healed. Furthermore, in Isaiah 56:7, there is a promise given in relation to this House of Prayer. The Lord promises to “make them joyful in my house of prayer.” In other words, true prevailing prayer always leads to rejoicing, that is, Exultation. So the result of converging all these points together is the acronym H.O.P.E., which stands for “House Of Prayer and Exultation”.
When did you first feel called to ministry and church planting?
My sense of calling to the ministry began early in my Christian walk. First of all, instrumental in the development of this sense of call was cultivating regular devotion to Christ through prayer and the Word. It was in the secret place with God where my affections for Christ began to form, and Holy Spirit began to share Christ’s heart and love for His Bride, the Church. Secondly, my dad’s church was a church that really encouraged active participation in the public ministry of the word. As a result, I preached my first sermon 6 months after my conversion. Even though that sermon was totally devoid of the art of preaching, that experience had a profound effect on me. The Lord used that opportunity to heighten my sense of a call to the ministry that Tuesday night. Another significant moment in the development of my sense of calling came back in 1993. After a extended season of prayer and fasting for revival and a consuming longing for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon his Church, the Lord gave me a promise one morning through Psalm 116:1 – “I love the Lord, because He hears My voice and my supplications.” When I read that verse, I can’t explain it but I had a deep conviction that the Lord had heard my cry, and that one day the Lord would grant me the privilege of being part of a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It was during that season that the Lord began to clarify a call specifically to pastoral ministry. However, my sense for church planting in particular did not begin to form until a few years ago when I became a landlord in Allentown. The Lord used that experience to clearly direct his call particularly to raising up a church in inner city Allentown that would minister the gospel of Jesus Christ to the spiritually hungry and the destitute for the glory of his great name.
*Part 2 of this interview will we posted Friday.
The Sovereign Grace Pastors College welcomes Mark Prater, Ian McConnell, and Tim Shorey as our missiology instructors this week. These men bring a combined history of nearly 50 years of pastoral ministry that includes church planting, replanting, and short-term missions work.
Mark Prater's opening lecture sprang from Colossians 1:24-29. He drew our attention to Paul's ambition to proclaim the person and work of Jesus Christ, even amid difficulty, so that everyone might be found mature in Christ. He then shared the following:
There are certain quotes that stir my soul. Let me share one with you for I believe it may stir your soul as well.
“Between Eden and the eternal state, between Abraham and Armageddon, between Babel and the beast’s confinement to the lake of fire, few biblical topics are as important as mission. This is because mission, while purposed by God prior even to sin, is inextricably linked to man’s sinfulness and need for redemption and God’s provision of salvation in the person and work of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. This ‘good news’ of salvation in Jesus, however must be made known. Thus mission is the ingredient that both precedes Christian existence and constitutes a major motivation for Christian living: the saving mission of Jesus constitutes the foundation for Christian mission, and the Christian Gospel is the message of mission, a mission that is not optional but mandatory.” (Kostenberger and O’Brien, Salvation to the Ends of the Earth).
This brings tears to my eyes not only for the provision of salvation I have in Jesus Christ but also because sinners, like you and me get to participate in something grander and greater than us, the “mandatory mission” of making known the good news of Jesus Christ.
For the last 32 years our family of churches has participated in the “mandatory mission” of making known the gospel of Jesus Christ primarily through church planting. Why church planting? Because it’s what you see in the New Testament, the good news of Jesus Christ being made known through ordinary people that participate in the planting of churches.
We don’t plant churches to replicate the sending church, nor do we plant churches to grow Sovereign Grace Ministries. We plant churches because you and I live “between Eden and the eternal state” which means we don’t have much time to make known the person and saving work of Jesus to those who don’t know Him as their Savior. We must not grow numb to the truth that people all around us need God’s provision of salvation in the finished work of Christ. Quite simply, that’s why we plant churches.
A Church Planting Story
Last September I attended the memorial service of my friend Gunter Kiesewetter in the Pittsburgh area. Church planting is very dear to me because in 1996, Covenant Fellowship Church sent me, my family, and about 12 adults to plant a Sovereign Grace church in the South Hills of Pittsburgh (Providence Church). One of the members of our church planting team was Dirk Kiesewetter who was sent from Sovereign Grace Church of Indiana, PA. Through Dirk our church got to know, befriended, reached out to, and shared the gospel with Dirk’s father Gunter.
Gunter along with his wife Helma (who was already a Christian) immigrated to America during W.W. II. Gunter was successful in business and was a “hard working, hard playing” type of guy whose heart was hard toward the gospel. However, the members of Providence Church spent time with him, loved him, and shared the good news of Jesus with him. At some point Gunter was born again and trusted in Christ as his Savior. I’ll never forget the day when we, as a small church family, gathered around Gunter’s pool in his backyard and baptized him as a Christian.
That memory was in the forefront of my mind when I attended his memorial service in September. I pondered the joy Gunter was experiencing as he gazed into the eyes of Jesus and heard “well done my good and faithful servant.” But I also found my heart filled with gratitude to God for the members of the Providence Church church planting team. Ordinary people, like you and me who participated in something grander and greater than themselves, making known the good news of Jesus. Because a church was planted, this memorial service had an element of joy, for our friend Gunter heard the good news, responded to it, and now will spend eternity at the throne of grace. I tell you this story because it embodies why we plant churches and participate in the “mandatory mission” Jesus gave us.
Your Participation in the Mandatory Mission
Never forget there are people like Gunter Kiesewetter living all around you who need to hear about the saving work of Jesus. Pray for opportunities to befriend them and share the gospel with them for one day you will stand around a pool or baptismal and rejoice like we did on the day we baptized Gunter.
As I consider the church plants Sovereign Grace Ministries has planned this coming year, I pray for and anticipate the conversions of many like Gunter as we participate in our “mandatory mission" together.
April 19, 2013 by
Categories: Church planting | Video
Cornerstone Church of Knoxville (CCK) officially commissioned the Redeeming Grace Church Planting Team on Sunday, April 7. In the coming months Dave Odom will lead this group to establish a church in Franklin, TN (a suburb of Nashville) where they will hold their first public meeting October 13. Dave shared some of his reflections from the commissioning service with the members of CCK on their blog. He wrote:
...For those in attendance, you cheered as many of your dear friends were announced as part of the church plant team. But, there were also many new faces standing on that stage; those living in Nashville with a desire to participate. For a quick run down of the numbers:
- CCK is sending out 29 adults and 23 children.
- Participants from Nashville: 20 adults and 17 children.
- Grand total: 49 adults and 40 children.
We are astounded to have a church planting team of 89 people. This is a unique blessing for a church being plant 200 miles from the sending church. And while we are certainly grateful for the size of this team, it is the quality of these people that I love the most. They are marked by the grace of God. Their lives are a testimony to the transforming power of the gospel. These are the exact people you want to plant a church with.
One of the primary means that God has used in the lives of these people is you. We are reaping in Nashville what Cornerstone Church of Knoxville has sown here in Knoxville for over two decades. And you are sending us out in strength because of your willingness to sacrifice for the advancement of the gospel.
Thank you for your investment in the lives of these people. Thank you for your joyful support of this church plant. Thank you for your commitment to ongoing support and gospel partnership for years to come. Redeeming Grace Church will always remember the great faith and sacrifice of Cornerstone Church of Knoxville.
Thank you for partnering with Sovereign Grace Ministries and CCK to plant Redeeming Grace Church. By praying for us, serving in your local church, and by giving, you make this gospel mission possible (Phil 1:3-5). We are most grateful!
April 17, 2013 by
Categories: Church planting | Video
Grace Bible Church of Wissinoming has prayed, planned, prepared, and praised.
The following video provides you with a behind the scenes glimpse of this church plant.
Apart form the physical help, financial support, and prayer of so many, none of this would have been possible. Dan Birkholz and the church planting team have been so blessed by each contribution toward this mission of reaching Wissinoming and the surrounding neighborhoods of Philadelphia with the gospel. While their Sunday meetings have now begun, the need for repairing this building continues.
To find out more about how you can help by participating in a work team or direct giving, please visit PlantWiss.com
April 9, 2013 by
Categories: Church planting | Video
Our announcement about the replant of New Covenant Church last week left some of you wondering, "What is a church replant?" We are glad you asked!
In the following video, Ian McConnell describes the replanting/revitalizing of Grace Bible Church in northeast Philadelphia. This 10-minute testimony highlights the joys and challenges of revitalizing the gospel witness in an urban community through revitalizing a declining church.
For more information on church replants/revitalizations, read the following helpful article by Mike McKinley titled, The Pros and Cons of Planting and Revitalizing.
April 5, 2013 by
Categories: Church planting
Previously, we shared the exciting news of New Covenant Church’s replant in Arnold, Maryland. Today we’d like to share with you more of the history behind this decision and introduce you to the pastors who are partnering to replant New Covenant Church (NCC).
Through the years, NCC has benefited from Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) through conferences and resources. Over the last several years, NCC reached out to SGM for further input and support, seeking the counsel and help of John Loftness (senior pastor of Solid Rock Church in Riverdale, MD) when they found themselves without a pastor. The church wanted to join SGM and find a pastor who would come to serve the church in partnership with SGM. During this time, John Loftness and Mark Prater built relationships with the local leaders at NCC. A mutual bond of trust and respect grew among these men, and John and Mark’s vision to support and help NCC in more substantial ways grew as well. John and Mark served NCC through their counsel, input, and preaching support.
Over the last 18 months, Sovereign Grace pastors have visited NCC to preach on Sundays. During this time, some of these visiting pastors considered whether God was calling them to help replant this church. The Lord has been faithful to guide the leadership team at NCC, the leaders in SGM, and each potential pastor in discerning who was called to this exciting adventure.
Through what felt at times like a long and slow process, the Lord brought two men, Ed O'Mara and Josh Murphy, to serve and replant NCC. These men came, independent of each other, to see if God was calling them to this replant and quickly found that God formed a bond of unity between them, the NCC leadership team, and the church.
Ed and Josh are excited to relocate with their families to play a part in revitalizing NCC. Ed will serve as the lead pastor and Josh will serve as a pastoral resident. We plan to share more of Ed and Josh’s stories of how God has led them to this place and their excitement for the future.
But as we noted in the previous post, this church replant isn’t just for the people at NCC or Ed or Josh. It could be for you as well. Perhaps God is calling you to consider joining what he is doing in Arnold, Maryland. If that is you, stay tuned to the Plant & Build blog to continue to learn more. If you find that God is leading you to take steps toward participating, you can email your interest to email@example.com.
March 28, 2013 by
Categories: Church planting
Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) is pleased to announce the replanting of New Covenant Church in Arnold, Maryland.
In the late 70’s, several families from Davidsonville, Severn, and Annapolis started a house church, "Arundel Christian Fellowship." God used this small group to reach their community with the gospel. From those seemingly insignificant roots, a church was founded in the Annapolis area.
Annapolis is Maryland’s state capital, a hub of politics, culture, and education. Gospel opportunities abound in this growing area close in proximity to Baltimore and Washington D.C. For many years SGM has desired to partner with or plant with a church in this region. We rejoice that God has answered these prayers in the replanting of New Covenant Church.
Perhaps the term “replant” is new to you. A replant differs from a traditional church plant in how the church is formed. Generally, a church plant is formed through a group relocating to establish a church from scratch. A replant is when an existing congregation, in a defined location, with established resources takes steps towards revitalization. SGM and local churches in the surrounding region are joining together for the revitalization, the replanting, of New Covenant Church.
Historically, New Covenant Church has related to and have benefitted from SGM through conferences, music, and print resources that have encouraged and strengthened them as a church body. Over the past few years they sought specific counsel from SGM and then began to pursue our family of churches for adoption. It has been our privilege to grow in relationship with and serve this dear church. In future posts you will learn more about New Covenant Church, the story of this replant, and some of the ways that SGM is already involved.
But this replant isn’t only for those presently apart of SGM… you can be involved too! Perhaps God is calling you to consider joining New Covenant Church. In the days ahead we look forward to sharing more information including the history, vision, and people involved in this replant. If you find that God is leading you to take steps toward participating in any way, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
March 22, 2013 by
Categories: Church planting | Interviews
Last week, Sovereign Grace Church of Marlton, NJ held an informational meeting regarding the launch an upcoming church plant to South Philadelphia, PA. Jeff Boettcher is leading this effort with a team from Sovereign Grace Church.
In part 1 of this interview Jeff discussed when his desire to plant a church first began, the location for the church, and some of the challenges and blessings he experienced as a child of a church planter.
In this second part of the interview Jeff shares the role the Sovereign Grace Pastors College played in preparing him to church plant and the benefits Jeff has experienced in partnering with Sovereign Grace Ministries.
What lessons has your dad taught you about church planting?
There are two major lessons that my Dad has taught me (and is still teaching me). First, God is much more concerned about the work that he is doing in a guy, then the work he is doing through a guy. He regularly tells me that the first three years of the plant were all about God taking a chisel (actually I think he usually says a sledge hammer) to the idols of his heart. From his experience, he has said that church planting is extremely painful, because it confronts some of our deepest fears and uproots our most proud desires. Yet, while the process is painful, it is also good, because the One wielding the hammer is not seeking to crush us, but grow us. God cares about his people and so God is committed to working hard on men’s lives to make them into pastors. So he has exhorted me to lay my heart bear and let God do his work.
The second thing is not a lesson that he has spoken about verbally, but rather what I observed from his life. That lesson was that preaching doesn’t end when you come down out of the pulpit, but continues Monday-Saturday as you seek to apply God’s word to your life. My Dad isn’t a perfect man by any means, but by the grace of God, he is a faithful man. He is a man who has faithfully practiced what he has preached for over 20 years. Whatever application questions he used in a sermon, he would lead a discussion about at our dinner table and be the first to answer from his own life. My Dad was never two different people, he was always the same guy who always made it clear that his greatest desire would be that his kids would have his same savior.
What are some highlights from your experience at the Pastors College? How did that year prepare you for church planting?
A highlight was watching Nathan Sasser take down Matt Wireman (who outweighed Nathan by at least 50lbs) in about 5 seconds flat. Don’t mess with a guy who has a Van Til tattoo. Actually, I’m not sure if he has a tattoo, but I’d like to get that rumor going.
In all seriousness, the Pastors College has played a very important role in preparing me for this plant. Through the various classes at the PC- particularly those taught by our beloved Dean, Jeff Purwell- a greater love for God’s word, faith in God’s word and ability to bring God’s word to bear was invested into my life. I’m a young man without a lot of pastoral experience. Yet, my faith and excitement for this plant isn’t in myself, but in the timeless, all sufficient words of the living God. The PC opened up these words to me in new ways and through Jeff and our other instructors, I am growing in learning how to apply these words to me own life and to the lives of those whom God has called to be part of His church.
What have you been up to during your church-planting residency and how is this time preparing you for your upcoming church plant?
I have been seeking to steal as many people from Sovereign Grace Marlton as I possible can. Much time has been spent leaving unmarked envelopes full of cash in people’s mailboxes…
Besides that, I have been preaching, counseling, developing courses, being part of elder team meeting, working through all the logistics of putting together the plant team and trying to spend as much time in Philly as possible. The pastors at SGC-Marlton have been very generous in giving me real responsibilities, allowing me a lot of time in the pulpit, as well as, other teaching contexts.
What part have Sovereign Grace Ministries and Sovereign Grace churches played in your Christian walk and path into pastoral ministry?
When I was three weeks old my parents walked into Covenant Fellowship Church for the first time. 27 years later, I am still blessed to be part of Sovereign Grace Ministries. Different distinctives of SGM have been particularly precious to be during different seasons of my life. As a teen I appreciated the centrality of the gospel that brought great comfort as I was confronted with the reality of my own sinfulness. As a young adult I appreciated the sovereignty of God in election that fueled my evangelistic zeal. As a young pastor I have appreciated the gift of expository preaching and the real confidence that we can have that God will build His church through the preaching of His word.
What does partnership with Sovereign Grace mean for you as a church planter?
I wouldn't be planting this church without the investment of Sovereign Grace in my life. I was saved in a Sovereign Grace church, have been pastored my whole life by Sovereign Grace pastors, have been trained at The Sovereign Grace Pastors College, have had some of my salary in my residency compensated by Sovereign Grace, and will receive a church planting grant from Sovereign Grace. That alone speaks of the value of my partnership with Sovereign Grace. However, my partnership with Sovereign is not just about how they have invested in me in the past, but in ways that I am grateful they will continue to partner with this church plant in the future. I couldn’t be more excited about our new polity and how it brings churches together for mission, as well as, mutual care. I am so grateful that I am not embarking on this work alone, but have brothers who are linking arms with me as we seek to spur one another on to follow God with all we got.
How can those interested in your church plant find out more?
If you would like more info about our church plant you can check out our website at christchurchphilly.org
March 20, 2013 by
Categories: Church planting | Video
In this video, Jeff Boettcher takes us to the neighborhoods of Southwark and Pennsport in South Philadelphia, PA where Christ Church will, Lord willing, be established. We invite you to join us in praying for the evangelistic efforts of this church planting team.
For more information on Christ Church of South Philly, visit their website and read the Church Planter Interview with Jeff.