Hey everyone! So much has been happening over the last few months with us two guys. The Lord continues to show Himself faithful as the One who promises to build His church (Matt. 16:18). Even in an age when the Church is under attack and being marginalized, we have hope, faith, and joy because the church of Jesus Christ is indestructible! Allow me to update you and what has been happening with the Wilmington Church Plant.
October Pastors Conference
In early October, we had the privilege of attending the Sovereign Grace Pastors Conference in Orlando with our wives. For three days, we were blessed to hear excellent preaching, sing to our Lord together, and enjoy the fellowship of our fellow brothers and sisters within Sovereign Grace. Those who preached exhorted us from God’s word on topics related to pastoral ministry, missions, and the local church. With every sermon, we walked away reminded about the greatness of our God’s power to strengthen and build His local church through the hands and hearts of His servants. These messages were timely for us! We also were able to spend lots of time being encouraged by people we love, and our wives especially enjoyed being able to have unhurried and needed conversation with old and new friends. We left refreshed and energized to continue to pursue the work God is calling us to!
He Counted Us Faithful
A big part of this year’s conference was sitting for our oral exams. This was the last exam before Joshua and I could be recommended by our denomination as elders. We are very happy to announce that we both passed the exam and are now waiting for the ordination service, which will happen sometime at the beginning of next year. The service will be held at Crossway Community Church (where we are doing our residency). Needless to say we are overjoyed and humbled that Christ would call us into the ministry (1 Tim. 1:12) with this family of churches!
Church Planter Cohort
In September, Joshua had his first Cohort in Philadelphia with four other men who are also planting churches with Sovereign Grace. The Cohort is designed to really get down into the nuts-and-bolts of why and how to plant healthy churches that last long and grow strong. My part in the cohort will be learning from what Joshua learns while in Philadelphia, prayerfully applying it to myself and our context in Wilmington. There are a total of 4 trips Joshua will be taking over the next year, each time dealing with a different component of church planting. He returns next week to learn about how to launch and lead the church plant.
Visit to Apex
In mid-October, we were invited to visit the Sovereign Grace Church of Apex (NC). We began the weekend at their men’s prayer breakfast. The breakfast was attended by many men (both young and old) from the church. We sang and listened to an encouraging talk by Mike Noel on the topic of being faithful men. We also had a great time in prayer, but not before Mike asked Joshua and I to compete in a push-up competition (I won!). We spent the rest of the weekend eating and fellowshipping with the pastors. They kindly gave up their afternoons and evenings to answer questions and give us good counsel on church ministry. On Sunday, Joshua preached a sermon from Ephesians 2:8-9 on sola gratia and the life of John Knox. I was reminded about God’s sovereignty in salvation and given a renewed vision of God’s grace toward us in Christ! We left Apex grateful for the elders there and excited to return in the new year.
On October 23rd we had our first informational meeting, where Joshua and I shared our story and our vision for a Sovereign Grace Church Plant in Wilmington. To say the least: we were very encouraged to see the faces of those who came. There were a number of people who showed interest in the church plant, and we are now in the process of building relationships with them. We are in great need of people to commit to come with us to Wilmington to help us launch the church, so if this burden stirs your heart, please pray with us that God would send us committed believers who are desirous to join the work God is already doing in Wilmington! CrossWay has graciously agreed to allow us to have another info meeting sometime in January, so stay tuned for details if you are local to the area! If you would like to listen to the recording you can do that here.
Visit to Summerville
On November 10th we took a trip down to Summerville, SC to visit with Mike Seaver and Jim Hawkins, the pastors of Sovereign Grace Church of the Low Country, a church planted only six years ago. On Friday, we spend the day with Mike discussing fruitful time management, pastoral responsibilities, and good habits to develop as church planters. We also enjoyed going to downtown
Charleston, where we visited a number of historic sites, including visiting the nation’s oldest Southern Baptist Church, as well as Emmanuel AME church, the oldest AME church in the South (and sadly, where a racially-motivated mass shooting took place in June 2015). On Saturday, we met with Jim and discussed effective methods of administratively managing the church plant. We also met with several other brothers and sisters while there, all of who encouraged us and prayed with us. On Sunday, Joshua preached from Acts 16 on God’s commitment to His Gospel, which can be listened to here. This trip was extremely helpful for us, given that Mike and Jim are still in the first years of the plant. We left with fresh faith and wisdom as we prepare to plant our own church.
Sugar Creek Coffee Roasters
We were recently approached by Chris Berger, owner of Sugar Creek Coffee Roasters in Mint Hill, NC. Chris told us he wanted to help us raise support for the church plant, and graciously agreed to donate fresh-roasted coffee to us to sell to anyone interested in supporting the new church. We were stunned and amazed at God’s kindness to us! As men who love Christ’s Gospel as well as great coffee, this is very exciting for us. Not only do we get to offer people single-origin, small-batch, artisan roasted coffee, we rejoice in the Lord that 100% of every dollar people spend on it will go to the spread of the Gospel in Wilmington. To try your own bag and support Gospel-ministry, click here.
Continuing Our Residency
For the remainder of the residency Joshua and I will be traveling to Wilmington to continue to build relationships there with people in the community and pastors and ministry leaders there. If you know someone who lives there who we may be able to meet with, could you reach out to us? We will also continue to visit other Sovereign Grace Churches where we will preach and observe ministries within those churches. Back at CrossWay, will spend the rest of our time preparing our prospectus for the church plant. A prospectus is simply an 8-10 page paper that gives the important details of why we are planting in Wilmington and what it will look like when we do. We are also meeting monthly with the pastors there for further training, conversation, and prayer.
Conclusion & Appeal
Friends and family, we would be remiss if we didn’t take the time to especially thank you for your prayers and financial support for each of our families. This partnership goes much deeper than mere verbal commitments to ministry – we are united together as brothers and sisters through the shed blood of Christ. And when we think of you we yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. As we pray for you, we ask that you also pray for us! Our weaknesses are evident; but we know that it is in our weaknesses that Christ’s power is made perfect – so we rejoice, and pray that you do as well!
- That our marriages be a living example of the gospel (Eph. 5:22-33);
- That Joshua and I remember that our home is the primary ministry that God has given us (Eph. 6:4);
- That Joshua and I make every effort to keep the unity between us in the bond of peace – with humility, gentleness, and patience (Eph. 4:1-3);
- That the elders at CrossWay be given much wisdom to steward all that God has given them (1 Pet. 5:2-3);
- That God would possibly stir you, the one reading this update, to pray about coming with us on this church plant (Mt. 9:35-38);
- That God would supply us with wisdom and discernment as we put together the prospectus together, and all that entails (Jam. 1:5, Prov. 2:6);
- That above all things, God will be glorified in saving the lost and in the strengthening of His church (Isa. 43:7).
Soli Deo Gloria!