Engaging in the work of planting Holy Trinity Presbyterian Church (ARP) in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan is bringing back memories of life lessons in church planting, gained in a small inner-city church in Kokomo, Indiana. The church there, itself a fairly recent church plant, was engaged in planting a church in the next town. The longer we lived, worshiped, were mentored in that Christian community, the more we grew in deep respect and appreciation for God’s gracious work through the Reformed Presbyterian Churches (RPCNA) in Indiana. Over a few decades, with a biblical simplicity, the kingdom of God advanced through them, from one small congregation in Bloomington, to eleven–still continuing to envision more across the state. Continue reading
“I remember once in a church which I knew very well, I was being entertained by a lady who seemed to be one of the leading lights in the church, and to my astonishment I found that her husband never went near the place at all. I subsequently discovered that the probable reason was that the lady, while very active and busy in church work, was failing lamentably in certain practical aspects–she did not always pay her grocer’s bill, for example. Yes, she was a great church worker but she was negligent in matters like that. Subsequently this lady, who had only been a nominal Christian, really became a true Christian. And what happened next? Only six weeks after his wife’s conversion, and without anyone asking or pleading with him, the husband began to attend that place of worship. He now came because he saw that something had happened to his wife. There was no need for anyone to say anything: he saw the genuine thing, he saw the change in her, and then he began to wonder what happened and so he came to see it for himself. That is sanctification. If Christians are to evangelise the world, they themselves must be right… This is vital… Continue reading
During the summer of 2006 my family and I moved to central Indiana where I taught at a university. We were ARP’s, and I was a student under care at the time, but in God’s providence we found ourselves in a state with no ARP churches, so friends recommended that we visit a Reformed Presbyterian congregation (RPCNA) in Kokomo. Warmly welcomed, we soon found ourselves at home in this vibrant congregation (attendance around 100), begun as a church plant years earlier. A year later we found ourselves deeply engaged in the life of the church, as the session asked if I was interested in interning under their pastor, Barry York. This was arranged in conjunction with my ARP Presbytery and our home congregation; our initial visit turned into two years of valuable hands-on ministry internship.
Several months ago I was privileged to take part in a discussion on church planting and discipleship with Barry York (senior pastor, Sycamore Reformed Presbyterian Church of Kokomo, Indiana) and Dale VanDyke and Francis VanDelden (senior and associate pastors, Harvest Church) who minister at a growing OPC here in Grand Rapids. We talked about the Reformed Presbyterian Churches (RPCNA) in Indiana as a case study of church planting: beginning with one small congregation in Bloomington in the late 1960′s, there are now eleven across the state.