Below is the text of an exciting announcement that we made at church this past Sunday (April 5, 2009). Some weeks ago we had announced that due to a tight financial situation we were reducing staff, and that Pastor Craig would be looking for a new church home. It was a sad day, but we were confident that God was moving us to make this change. However, in God’s good grace and pleasant providence, He provided another opportunity far beyond our ability to foresee. We are sending out Craig and a few families from our church to plant another gospel preaching church in Keene, New Hampshire, just less than an hour south of here.
This is the announcement we read to our church family on Sunday. Stay tuned, because we videotaped this announcement, and the questions asked by the church family, and we hope to post that soon too.
This morning we have some terrific news to share with you! Many of you have probably already heard some excited talk or suggestions that the church has been considering the opportunity to plant a church in Keene, New Hampshire.
That talk is true, and after a number of weeks of prayer and discussion, we have concluded that God has opened a door wide for this incredible opportunity to expand the ministry of Christ Community Church, and send out Craig and a few families from here, under our oversight, to plant a gospel preaching church in Keene.
It was only seven short weeks ago that we shared very sadly, that our church’s financial condition would no longer allow us to support two full-time staff pastors and that Craig would be looking for a church where he could pastor. He began that search diligently, but about 3 weeks after our announcement a few people came to us with the idea of planting a church in Keene. This wasn’t a completely brand new idea for us. The elders had actually investigated this possibility in 2005. At that time there were some significant obstacles – significant enough that we decided it wouldn’t be wise to proceed. The biggest obstacles at the time were a lack of people and a lack of financial resources.
Though we decided not to do it at that time, we were quite serious about it. That’s because the founding members of this church had church planting as part of their vision for Christ Community. The building was built in part with the idea in mind that churches planted by CCC would be able to come together here for times of training, equipping and strategizing. In fact, Wednesday night I was told at home fellowship that for at least the first couple years in the life of CCC, there was a line in the budget for church planting.
So, Christ Community has always seen the value, and had a vision, for planting churches in New England. That’s because church planting is biblical. It is at the heart of great commission work. Jesus gave His followers the mission to “Go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them and teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” The entire book of Acts records how that commission was carried out through the ministry of planting local churches. People were saved, baptized, and assimilated into local churches where they continued to grow and serve others. Church planting was at the heart of it all. The Apostle Paul’s letters were written primarily to help shape the life of churches he helped to plant, and his pastoral epistles (Titus and Timothy) particularly. The local church is called the household of God, the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15). We are confident that God wants biblically-governed, gospel-preaching, Christ-exalting local churches to be planted, and particularly in this dark region of the country, where they will be bright lampstands displaying the brilliant glory of Jesus Christ in an increasingly dark world. That’s why we are excited about church planting! We want Christ to be proclaimed in every place, and God’s plan for the proclamation of Christ centers on local church ministry.
And now, God has put in our laps an amazing opportunity to be a part of His church planting ministry. About five weeks ago, when people approached us about planting a church in Keene, we said, well, “that’s not gonna happen.” We said that because we didn’t think we had the people and we didn’t think we had the finances.
Well, God has made provision! God has proven us wrong in our initial reaction that it would be impossible by quickly putting together a group of 13 families who are very interested, and excited about helping with this church plant. Since early winter, we have had an increase of families from communities south of here, near Keene. At the same time, there are other families that we have come to know over the past few years, and even weeks, who are familiar with and excited about our church, and duplicating this type of ministry in their community, which they desperately desire and which the city of Keene certainly needs. Other than the Johnson’s themselves, this group includes only five families which are currently members at Christ Community-so there won’t be a large loss of numbers or resources from our church family. When it comes to finances, God has provided enough through sources outside CCC to begin this incredible work.
We are extremely excited, and are growing in our excitement, as we have watched God unfold this opportunity, and we really want you to get behind and be excited as, together, we watch God expand the proclamation of the gospel, and the ministry of Christ Community Church in Keene. Together, we are going to plant Crossway Church – proclaiming the cross of Jesus as the only way to God.
Obviously, being only five weeks into the process of thinking, there are a lot of details that have not been worked out. What we do know is that the new church plant will function under our leadership and direction, and that we will oversee the decision making and finances for the time being, with a view to appointing elders in the church there. Christ Community will be supporting the church financially at some level, which has not been determined yet, but which we are confident will be possible. As we get further into our own budgeting process, this will be more clear.
At the same time, the elders met this weekend to discuss how we would structure and organize the ministries here to further strengthen and fill in the gaps that will exist with the change in staff, and the families that will be joining Crossway Church. God has enabled us to fulfill our responsibility to be equipping the saints for the work of the ministry. We are more convinced than ever that we are positioned well to carry on without many ministry hiccups. In fact, we are confident that this will only strengthen our own church. It will cause us all to evaluate our own gifts and usefulness to the church. , while we engage in the work of planting another.
This is an example where we can all stand…”firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Phil. 1:27). That’s what we are doing,…engaging together in the work of expanding God’s kingdom. It’s a great privilege to be useful in service to God, and to give our time, talents and resources for the sake of His kingdom. It will take work and sacrifice, and we aren’t under any illusions that this will be easy. At the same time, it is clear that this is the time to step out in faith, trusting Him to bless, and trusting in His promise…”I will build my church!”
How will this all start?
In the next week, or two, Craig will begin meeting informally with this group on Sunday evenings in Keene, in order to further ground them, and equip them for the ministry ahead [have them stand]. They will be meeting in the evenings (not in the mornings), and you will be seeing them here with us for at least the next couple months (we are not saying goodbye to any of them today). Meanwhile, they will be looking for a location to meet, and preparing and organizing a way to get the word out about Crossway Church. The goal is that by mid to late summer, they will be formally meeting as a church in a public location in Keene.
How can you help? You can pray, and you can serve.
First, you can be praying.
- Pray, because God is sovereign, and He is the only one who can build this church, and make it succeed.
- Pray for Crossway Church to find a useful, sufficient and strategic location to meet.
- Pray for the planning and decision making for how to get the word out.
- Pray for the Johnson’s house to sell, and for them to find a house as quickly as possible.
- Pray that people will come, hear the gospel, and be saved and built up in the faith.
Second, be prepared to help/serve.
- Be ready to help with outreach, canvassing neighborhoods, hanging door-hangers, etc.
- There may be help needed getting a building/facility ready for a church meeting.
- In the coming weeks we will take a special offering to help with start-up costs and advertising.
- Be ready to serve here, as we continue to care for one another as a church family
So this is our exciting announcement. We are confident that God has moved in the situation, and has positioned us to be able to do this. And we want you to be know what’s going on so you can help and pray.
If you weren’t there, and have questions, feel free to get ahold of us by phone or email. You could even post your question here so that everyone will benefit from hearing the answer.
Please pray. What a privilege to be useful vessels of God’s mercy through the proclamation of the truth of the gospel.