Your Local Church Is Bigger Than It Looks
200 adults. 12 small groups. That’s a typical Sovereign Grace church. By the numbers, it’s not huge. But your church is not numbers. It is a living display of Christ in your community, a place where the gospel transforms lives, and a steward of the Great Commission. Now that’s huge.
Ordinary Churches Partnering Together
We are ordinary churches proclaiming an extraordinary gospel. Together, we’re planting churches, training pastors, and providing gospel-centered resources around the world.
In this video, you’ll hear from pastors of eleven Sovereign Grace churches as they describe how their churches began, fruit they're experiencing, mission opportunities, their vision for church planting, their partnership with Sovereign Grace, and more.
Thank you for the privilege of partnering together in this gospel work. By praying for us, by serving in your church, and by giving, you make this gospel mission possible.
For the past several years, Cedric Moss, senior pastor of Kingdom Life Church in Nassau, Bahamas, has been leading worship and preaching almost every Sunday. Cedric has only missed two Sundays in at least four years, but he wanted someone to help lead worship and partner with him in ministry. Crossway Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania heard about Cedric’s need for a worship leader and sent Keith Bunting to the Sovereign Grace Pastors College this past year with the goal of having Keith go to serve in the Bahamas. Now Keith is serving as the assistant pastor of worship at Kingdom Life Church.
Keith and Kristin, with their daughters, have been on the ground in Nassau, serving Cedric and the fine people of Kingdom Life Church for the past few months. Along with worship, Keith is also assisting Cedric in many pastoral duties as they seek to make the gospel known in this beautiful place. It is a beautiful place, but not one without people who desperately need to hear the good news about Jesus Christ!
Today, we provide you with a brief video update that Keith, Kristin, and their three daughters recently filmed for Crossway Church.
Through Crossway Church’s support, as well as through giving to Sovereign Grace Ministries, Keith was able to attend the Pastors College and be hired full-time at Kingdom Life Church after he graduated. Thank you for your generous giving; your support makes it possible for pastors like Cedric and Keith to partner together in ministry.
For several years, Sovereign Grace Ministries has had the honor of partnering with a pastor in Myanmar (Burma) named David, who leads a church-planting ministry. David is a graduate of our Pastors College. In addition to his work with church planting, he also leads a Bible school called Myanmar Center for Church Planting (MCCP) which Sovereign Grace helps support.
Last year, 16 students graduated from MCCP with either a two-year or a four-year diploma. Of these 16 students, 15 are serving in full-time ministry in various ways. At MCCP, a value is placed on providing a strong theological foundation for the students even though that takes several years.
During the school year, students take courses during the week and go out to serve in the community on the weekends. Most students do children’s ministry, but some also do music-related ministry, and some of the men have the opportunity to preach to congregations in the area.
Many students also take part in summer internships or service and evangelism opportunities. One young man who just completed his first year at MCCP spent his summer at the church where his father pastors. This is what he writes about his time:
When I returned home, I was determined to do something with the youth of my church. The only place I knew of to start was to teach the youth how to play guitar. I soon gathered a small group of teenagers....And many of them started coming back to church. In addition to working with the youth, I was also given an opportunity to preach on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings. It is such an excitement to share a pulpit with my own father. And my dad himself was very happy to see me preach.
This young man’s story is one of several that David shared with us. The students of MCCP are being well equipped to share the gospel and minister for Christ in their communities. Lord willing, this will only continue in the coming year as 40 students study at MCCP. David wrote to us, “...it takes time to see fruit, but God is giving us every indication that he is at work in our midst.”
Join us in praying that God would continue to grant much fruit to this ministry as they seek to faithfully teach his word and prepare students to serve him.
After the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010, many of you gave generously to Sovereign Grace Ministries’ Disaster Relief Fund. We are eager to bring the hope of Christ wherever we have opportunity—and thanks to your giving, that includes Haiti.
Initial Use of Funds
As we communicated earlier, we used $90,000 of the money donated to the Disaster Relief Fund to meet needs of ministries in Haiti immediately after the disaster:
- $10,000 went to a group of churches in southern Haiti that operates three orphanages. They used the funds you donated to purchase food and relief supplies for their communities.
- $15,000 was given to support churches and orphanages in northern Haiti. The man who leads this ministry used your donations to supply a generator for a hospital, provide food for those in need, repair an orphanage, and secure a two-year lease for a church whose building was destroyed.
- $35,000 was given to two pastors we work with in the Dominican Republic who were already ministering in Haiti before the earthquake. After the disaster, they were able to use your donations to purchase medical supplies, food, and supplies for orphanages, as well as to rebuild a damaged home and provide housing for relief workers.
- $30,000 went to support the immediate needs of a few trusted Christian relief organizations who served Christian communities in Haiti that were affected by the earthquake.
While we are excited to share now about how we are using the remainder of the funds, we are also aware that it has taken two years to disburse them. While we wish we could have distributed the funds earlier, we were advised to proceed slowly and carefully because of the significant turmoil there after the earthquake. We believe this decision ultimately allowed the funds to be used more effectively in the support of churches in Haiti, and we appreciate your patience as we sought the best way to steward these funds effectively.
Future Rebuilding in Haiti
Part of the remaining funds for Haiti went to a ministry called Evangelistic Child and Family Resources. For several years Sovereign Grace Ministries has been developing a relationship with Pastor Daniel, who has been involved in this ministry for about six years. Their facilities were severely damaged in the earthquake and their church, school, and girls’ orphanage are all in need of repair. Because of the Haiti Disaster Relief Fund, we were able to give $110,000 to enable them to repair the damage to their church and school and build a new roof for the girls’ orphanage.
Over the past several years, Sovereign Grace Ministries has also had the joy of developing a relationship with Miguel Nuñez, a pastor who leads a large church in the Dominican Republic. Our ministry is honored to partner with him in gospel work and also to join with him in serving Haiti. We gave him $70,000 to support his ongoing work there. Your donations will help him accomplish planned projects including medical missions and allow him to provide care that would otherwise have been unavailable to the people of Haiti.
As of December 2011, $205,000 was left in the Haiti Disaster Relief Fund. Now that we have given a combined total of $180,000 to support the efforts of Pastor Daniel and Miguel Nuñez, $25,000 remains in the fund. This money will be used to cover other projects, facilitate Sovereign Grace’s monitoring of the relief efforts, and allow for contingencies. At the inception of the fund, we also established a 5% earnings rate for any relief funds not spent. When the Fund did not achieve that rate, the Board committed additional reserves to Haiti disaster relief to reach the 5% level, allowing the remaining funds to continue to grow.
Every dollar donated to the Haiti Disaster Relief Fund is being set aside to help churches and ministries in Haiti who were affected by the earthquake, and every dollar is being accounted for to make sure this happens. If you have any questions about the Disaster Relief Fund, please email Tommy Hill, our finance director, at email@example.com.
Over the past several years, Sovereign Grace Ministries has developed relationships with a few pastors in the Dominican Republic. This includes Miguel Núñez, who leads a church in Santo Domingo. Miguel and the ministry he leads are featured in the video below, which is the second film we featured as part of our 2011 Mission Fund presentation.
The video ends with an overview from Dave Harvey of the many other ways in which God has been faithful to work through this family of churches in 2011. If you're a member of a Sovereign Grace church, thank you for the sacrificial service in your church, as well as your financial support, that have made much of this work possible. For more about how the Mission Fund money is spent, or to give a gift, you can visit the Mission Fund overview page.
For nine years, Sovereign Grace churches have provided training, pastoral support, and financial assistance to a pastor named Manolito and the churches he leads in Cuba. (One of the pastors, Al Pino, shared about this at length at our Pastors Conference in 2010.) Manolito has become a dear friend to those who have visited Cuba, and it has been a privilege for us to partner with him through visits and numerous events in Cuba. These events have included conferences on marriage and worship, and others designed for pastors and youth.
The video below, which is one of the two films we featured as part of last year's Mission Fund presentation, is an opportunity for Sovereign Grace church members to see and hear from the people in Cuba who have benefited from donations to the Mission Fund over the years. On their behalf, thank you for your investment in the advance of the gospel!
Check back soon for a Mission Fund video about the Dominican Republic.
September 13, 2011 by
Categories: Church planting | Donor updates
Earlier this summer we confirmed plans with Sovereign Grace churches for two church plants: one in Miami, Florida, and another just outside of San Diego, California.
Sovereign Grace Church Miami is being sent out from Palm Vista Community Church, and they plan to have their first service on January 15, 2012. They’ve been thinking hard about how to use a bilingual model to reach both Spanish- and English-speakers in one of the least-churched cities in the country, and we're excited to see how God uses their efforts. If you'd like to know more, you can watch a video with lead pastor Jose Prado at Palm Vista's website or follow their updates via Facebook.
The church plant near San Diego (in East County) will be sent out in mid-to-late 2012 from Grace Church in San Diego, which also planted Grace Church in Frisco, Texas, several years ago. The lead pastor for the plant is traveling a bit farther, however: Tab Trainor, formerly the senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church (Oswego, IL), is moving to California to lead the team. Tab planted Sovereign Grace Church in 1998 and handed off the senior pastor role to Josh Fenska at the beginning of this month.
We’re grateful for the faith and sacrifice of these sending churches and the planting teams. And beyond that, we look forward to seeing what role these new churches will play in our shared mission in the future. If you want us to email you when either church is ready to begin public meetings, sign up at our Join a Church Plant page and note your location as being in Miami or San Diego. We will contact you with details when the launch date nears.
Both of these churches are being assisted by start-up grants via the domestic portion of our annual Mission Fund. If you're a Mission Fund donor, thank you for helping to make these two new churches a reality. They are both a work of partnership among Sovereign Grace churches and would not be happening without your prayers and generosity.
We recently got some exciting news from our church in Ethiopia, Covenant Life Church Addis Ababa. Senior pastor Mo Adugna spearheaded an effort to hold preaching and evangelistic meetings in the Millennium Hall, a large auditorium in Addis Ababa. Mo and his church set the date for April 13, advertised the meeting, worked with area churches, arranged worship, drama, and preaching. But even they were surprised when 22,000 people showed up.
There were so many people that the police eventually had to turn people away. Wondy Getahun, another pastor at Covenant Life Church Addis Ababa, wrote to us,
Our main aim was to preach the gospel and also to impact the city with the Word of God. And the Lord did it. There were many unbelievers who came, and we believe they were touched; they said they could come again. We also felt the impact on our Sunday meeting: we had to rent more chairs that day, and on the Sunday following our meeting at the Millennium Hall, 24 new people wanted to learn about the gospel and gave their lives to Christ….The Lord has opened an unbelievable door.
We got a lot of encouragement from evangelical churches….We were very happy because we believe that what matters most is the local church. All of this work goes hand in hand with the local church….
Please pray for Mo, because he is shouldering a very heavy burden, but we know that it’s for the glory of Jesus.
In May, they held another Wednesday meeting that drew 16,000 people. Please pray that the Lord continues to draw people to himself through the gospel, and to build ever-increasing unity among the churches of Addis Ababa.
Mo and Wondy both attended our Pastors College before moving back home to Ethiopia in 2003 to plant Covenant Life Church Addis Ababa. For more on the church and their vision for Ethiopia, check out this video we produced in 2008 as part of our annual Mission Presentation.
June 14, 2011 by
Categories: Donor updates | General
From Tuesday to Thursday this week, we will be gathering with our regional leadership team for their annual retreat. C.J. Mahaney and Jeff Purswell will be joining us for part of the retreat this year. The men on that team all live and do ministry in different areas of the USA and abroad, so this retreat is one of the most strategic opportunities of the year to pray and talk about the ministry, enjoy fellowship, and build together relationally.
The regional leadership team’s role is to help Sovereign Grace Ministries facilitate church planting and church care, as well as international ministry, so those are the areas of our ministry that we’ll be looking at together. And because we’ll all be together, the retreat will also provide a context for the regional team to give invaluable counsel and feedback to C.J., Jeff, and me.
If you think of it, would you please pray that God would enrich our time together, giving us wisdom and faith to know and do his will? Here are some of the things we’ll be talking about and need God’s help in:
- What have we learned in the past year about pastoral ministry and church planting that we can pass on to all the churches?
- How can we better equip more churches to advance the Great Commission?
- Where can we grow in supporting and strengthening pastoral teams in our local churches?
As an aside, I’m also going to present some follow-up material to the message on "Durable Partnerships" that I presented at last year’s Pastors Conference. I hope to share some of that material here on the blog after the retreat, so stay tuned. And thanks for praying for us!
Next month, Keith Breault is planting Redeemer Church of Charlottesville, Virginia. In part 1 of our interview, Keith talked about the transition from pastoring an established church to planting a new one. Today, he talks about plans for outreach at UVA and how to get in touch with the new church.
Redeemer Church of Charlottesville will be meeting across the street from UVA. What do you envision for outreach at the university?
Right now we’re waiting on the Lord. I envision our outreach at UVA being primarily relational. I don’t see us doing big events and trying to draw a crowd as we’re starting out. Those events have value—people hear the gospel at events like that, and that’s great. But given where we are and the size of our church plant, duplicating a big college ministry isn’t an option for us right now.
We’re looking at relational outreach, hanging around a campfire in our back yard, inviting college students to go to coffee with an older Christian—and I think that is exciting to these students.
I also think there’s something about diversity of age and demographic that pleases God. It’s like musical harmony—it’s intrinsically pleasing, and you can’t have harmony if every note is the same. So we’re excited about just inviting these students into our homes. I think it will bring a balance to students’ lives and a balance to the church’s life. We’re trusting God that the outreach, Bible studies, etc. will grow organically from what we have now.
College is a busy time of life. What would you say to the student who says, “I’ve got classes, extracurriculars, my part-time job, my campus ministry—I’ll join a church after I graduate”?
I’d much rather answer this question one-on-one, because there are nuances to each situation. But in general, I believe that we need each other. In a church we aren’t gathering just because of our season of life, or because circumstances caused our lives to intersect, but because we’re bound together by Christ. We’re agreeing that we need each other. We’re essentially saying, “I’m part of you and you’re part of me. We need each other for strength, wisdom, and so much experiential grace that only flows to us through one another.”
Now it’s true that there’s a lot of community in college. A lot of that grace does come through our friends in college—encouragement, studying the Bible together, memorizing Scripture—basically having a blast! So if you’re experiencing that, that’s great!
But there is also an authority that comes to us from the local church. We don’t just take it or leave it; my church is a place to which God has called me, and I’m responsible to respond to the teaching and accountability there.
When we join a church we’re saying, “These aren’t just casual friends; this is my church. These are my people, and I need them, and according to Scripture, grace flows to them through me, so they need me as well.”
It’s not about which church you join, as long as it follows Scripture. But by all means you should join yourself to a local church. And this doesn’t just pertain to college students; it pertains to all of us.
As a church planter, what do you find helpful about partnering with Sovereign Grace Ministries?
I just smiled when I saw this question. I can’t even imagine doing any of this apart from Sovereign Grace Ministries.
From the moment my wife and I came through the doors of Sovereign Grace Church in Chesapeake, we had a sense of “this is home.” We were engaged at the time, we knew Jesus, we had memorized lots of Scripture, we had been in church since we were little kids, but looking back, we had no practical theological training as we were preparing to embark into marriage.
During that foundational time in our lives, being part of the local church was a gift. (A big thank you to John Butler, who was our senior pastor then!) We found examples to follow in our church, and then at the Pastors College. It was like Paul said to Timothy, “Join with me in suffering for the gospel..." or "Follow my life and my conduct.” We were—and are—so blessed everywhere we turned to be surrounded with godly people whose walk of faith we can imitate.
And then there’s the instruction we’ve received: through preaching, written materials, and at the Pastors College (and the scholarship that enabled us to be there).
And the financial support has been so generous. As we’ve stepped out in faith to explore church planting, Sovereign Grace has totally stepped out in faith with us. We’ve never been dangling out there by ourselves. Every time the path or the timetable changed, Sovereign Grace guys were caring for us in very personal and practical ways. After the Pastors College, when I needed more training in preaching, Sovereign Grace sponsored that. And it wasn’t an impersonal “Here, we’ll write you a check,” but Dave Harvey was on the phone with me talking about it and asking how we were doing. As we planted this church, because of Sovereign Grace's first-year grant for this church plant, we are freed up to focus on reaching our community instead of worrying about finances.
So from when we were first married all the way up to the details of church planting, we can’t imagine doing any of this without Sovereign Grace Ministries. Christ has cared for us so well through SGM's care, teaching and practical support!
How can interested folks find out more about Redeemer Church of Charlottesville?
It's easy to contact us through the website: www.RedeemerCville.org. From there, I'm happy to speak with anyone and do my best to answer their questions—either by phone, by email, or face to face.