Sunday night at our church family meeting Jodi and I announced (with the support of our elder team) that we would like to plant a church campus in a surrounding area. For reasons, which I intend to explain in this post, we want to extend Greenville Grace to another community within a 20-30 minute radius of Grace within the next 1-5 years.
I know that this likely leaves many of us with a great deal of questions; where? When? How? Unfortunately, we don’t know the answers to those questions yet. In fact, we want to get word out about this plan because we’re inviting feedback. We want to start the discussion concerning sending people and resources to another community with a view to starting another church there. We thought you might be able to help us find a few of those answers.
Before any rumors get started, I would like to rule out as many negative reasons for starting a second campus as possible. You need to know that I truly love our elder team. Additionally, I enjoy going to work with the men that I work with—they are a blessing to me (just like Shaun, Matt, and Daniel have been). Honestly, I don’t even think I’m currently dissatisfied with my position.
So, the natural questions arises; if you’re perfectly happy, why leave?
Grace has been a place for me and my family to flourish. It is here that we have re-discovered the life-giving gospel of God, again and again and again. Sometimes it happened in LIFEgroups or music team practices, sometimes in the counseling room, and often under the teaching and instruction of the Word of God on Sundays. Regardless, the story of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sin hid around every corner of this building and I think that is a pretty amazing thing.
Ironically, it is the recognition of God’s abundant blessing to us at Grace that makes me want to go. Having seen the local church function as it does here, I think that starting another “Grace” in another community would be particularly glorifying to our Savior.
Causes for Change
Ultimately, there were three primary considerations that led us to our decision. First, on a personal level, I figured out this summer that I truly enjoy preaching and teaching the word of God. I enjoy it more than any other ministry task I perform. As such, I think placing myself in an environment in which I could do so more regularly also glorifies God as He is honored when people exercise their giftedness (see Eph. 4:11-13, 1 Cor. 12:4-11).
Second, our church is currently in a state that we can consider starting another campus/plant. We have 7 godly men who are helping lead our congregation. We have faithful men and women serving in a variety of capacities throughout the week. Our financial numbers and attendance seem to reflect a positive church culture. All of these things point to our health as a body—and also remind us that there are others who could also benefit from a healthy church in their community.
Finally, the Biblical witness of the Old and New Testaments points us to a God who wants to pursue people. Consider God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12 and you’ll find that the promise is to bless “all the families of the earth” (v. 3). Isaiah 12 records that we should make God’s “deeds” known amongst other nations. The Psalms have this heartbeat as well (Ps. 96, 22:27, 67:4).
Jesus has a few interactions that show us his care and compassion for those who don’t know Him.
Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He *said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. “Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” (Mt. 9:36-38).
God’s desire to see disciples multiply disciples (2 Tim. 2:2, Mat. 19:28) should also be reflected in churches that multiply churches. Think of the other communities that would benefit from a(nother) faithful Biblical witness in their midst.
Right now I simply want to ask you to do two things; talk and pray.
First, we’re asking that the body speak to one another about the prospect of planting a church campus. Perhaps you might participate in the new body. Maybe you’re aware of resources that might be available. Please engage others in your family or small groups. We want you to be talking about this.
Not only that, talk to us (elders) too. Let us know your thoughts. Allow us to answer the questions you might have. We want to navigate this process well and we can only do so if we know a bit about what you’re thinking.
Second, please pray for us. A good place to start is in the matthew 9 passage we just listed above—pray that God raises up workers for the harvest. Pray about whether you and your family might participate with us. Pray for resources. Pray for people.As an extension of this need to pray, we will be gathering at the church on Sunday evening, November 1 at 7 pm to pray for the prospect of this new campus.
Please consider whether you might be able to join us for an hour of prayer.
The decision to “extend” Grace is, oddly enough, an expression of our love for it. Please know that we love Grace—specifically, the people at Grace—deeply. We simply want other communities to have the same opportunities to treasure and love the gospel that we’ve had.
Hopeful in Christ,
Jason and Jodi Bradshaw