Reflections On Church Planting - The Journey To Today
(Originally posted 2/8/2017)
Master’s Seminary prepared me to plant Grace Bible Church:
Sitting here at my desk on this warm and sticky February day, I find myself contemplating the future of Grace Bible Church–Gainesville as well as the future of my family—two destinies which seem so inextricably tied. I consider the path that has brought me to this point, and I catch myself looking back at my decision to attend seminary, even why I chose The Master’s Seminary way out in Los Angeles.
I realize that God used my time there, every painful situation, every difficult assignment, and every sleep deprived night to prepare me for this sticky Florida Day. TMS trains men because lives depend on it, now me and my family depend upon it, and so do many more who will be affected by the ministry of GBC-Gainesville. I’ve also come to understand that my preparation for ministry started well before my decision to attend TMS. God has used every step of the way to prepare me for this day.
I have many hopes and fears as I look to the coming months, yet I only need to look back to see God’s faithfulness. I know I need to meditate on His faithfulness to confidently move into the future believing that Christ will build His church for His good pleasure (Matthew 16:18).
At GBC, we desire to be a faithful church which boldly proclaims the truth of the Word of God—something that I’ve been taught since the beginning of my Christian walk especially at TMS. As I think back on my years, I reflect on God’s mercy, and again I find myself contemplating why I chose TMS.
The long path to The Master’s Seminary:
As I think about it, there have been other days like today. Just a few years ago, we were living in Fallon, Nevada when the news arrived that my job was being eliminated. Much more immature in my walk, I spent many days fretting about my career. I struggled to understand the difficult path ahead. At the time, I had been a Christian for about ten years and had a desire to attend seminary, but my wife, Angie, was not ready to take that leap. So, we decided to continue my career. As I look back on that time, I was not ready for seminary. God was not finished preparing me.
Even as I struggled, God proved faithful. He moved us to Columbia, South Carolina to join a new part of the company. As we considered that move, even with all my immaturities, we knew that we needed to be part of a church that honored Christ. We trusted TMS, so we were hopeful for an alum in Columbia. I tried to contact two in the area, but did not receive an immediate answer. We struggled for several months trying to understand God’s will for us, and the day before I was going to turn down the offer to move, a TMS alum from the area called me. I had been trying to email him for several weeks, but was unable to get in touch with him. For some reason, the emails were not going through. But, God was not thwarted by technical difficulties—He worked through them as He faithfully prepared me.
A church plant or a church revitalization:
As it turns out, we joined a church revitalization effort or maybe it was a church plant. The church had gone through many years of difficulties, and was almost dead. The remaining men had sold the church property and put the money into trust to use for restarting the church. As it stood, there were only three families including ours. We had no idea what was in store for us. Just a few weeks after our arrival, we were meeting in a small building—with just our three families—as crazy as that sounds. But God had a plan. Just a few weeks later, Pastor Lance Quinn, who was from Grace Community Church and Grace Advance, showed up at our church doorstep ready to place a pastor.
An irresistible call
God had answered our prayers, within a few months, our new pastor, Jason Gillespie, arrived along with other families, and the church was rebirthed. From his first sermon, we saw that Pastor Jason had been well-trained to preach the word of God. Sitting under faithful preaching, I realized that God was indeed merciful to us…and that He had called me to preach. My calling was not clear cut—that is a different story—but I knew that if I was going to attend seminary, I would attend The Master’s Seminary. I believe TMS faithfully trains men to exposit the Scriptures the way God intends. Put simply, TMS men are trained to preach the word in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:1–2).
The sticky day has turned into a wet evening as a thunderstorm rolls through our little neighborhood. The rain brings renewal as it washes away the dusty days. Again, I am reminded of our future. And, I am confident that God has prepared me for the difficult days ahead. I am thankful for the path that I’ve taken, because on that path I have witnessed the faithfulness of God as He has prepared me for the road ahead.