Advance Stories

Churches Partnering Together for Hopeful Futures

Churches Partnering Together for Hopeful Futures

Churches Partnering Together for Hopeful Futures

Mount Pleasant Baptist Church had been in serious decline and struggling to remain open.

Recently, though, they held a celebration service that brought together members from two churches partnering together from neighboring communities with the same mission of making disciples. As we gathered in this rural location, almost 10 miles from the closest Dollar General, they came together as one family celebrating what God was doing in their midst with worship, baptisms, and a traditional covered dish luncheon.

The story began with a pastor’s vision to assist a sister church reverse her Gospel influence. Pastor Michael Baker from Renfrew Baptist Church had heard the statistics on churches closing their doors and knew of several churches in their association that were declining. As he prayed for these churches, he also began to ask how Renfrew could leverage their strength as a newly revitalized congregation.

A Replanter’s Call

Josh Griffin had served as an associate pastor at Renfrew for over two years before being sent to Mount Pleasant as a replanter. God burdened his heart for struggling churches as he heard Baker’s vision, and Griffin sought to learn more about these new strategies for reclaiming dying churches through the first-hand experience of a replanter in a neighboring mill community. The more he learned, the more he realized God was calling his family to this redeeming ministry.

Over three years, Mount Pleasant called their local Baptist association for help. They knew they were in trouble and their interim pastor had heard of this new ministry called “replanting.” This call began a consultation to discover their options and reality and led to a recommendation to restart the church. They initially took a few steps forward before COVID-19 caused them to stop gathering for worship, and when they reopened their doors, they had lost members and their pastor. They placed a second call to the association and consultation resumed, but this time the recommendation pointed to the need for a partner church to provide immediate resources for future ministry.

A Family Conversation

With a church ready to do whatever it took for a hopeful future and a partnering church praying God would send an opportunity, it was time to bring them all together for a family meeting. With a clear vision for what it would take to restart Mount Pleasant and humility from all leaders, God began to unite these two churches together for the sake of advancing God’s Kingdom in their community. They cast vision for their partnership, took initial steps to reconstitute Mount Pleasant’s bylaws, drafted an initial budget, and guided Griffin through replanter assessment.

Both congregations were willing to make significant changes to restart a church in their community – Mount Pleasant would start completely over with new leadership, ministries, and bylaws. Renfrew would send their beloved associate pastor and other families to serve alongside of him to serve in a new context, provide financial support, and other essential resources needed for a new work in an existing location.

The Next Partnership…

Obviously, there are a lot more details to the partnership and both churches are still discovering how God can utilize this new shared venture, but the conversation is already shifting toward how they can partner with future churches in need of strengthening.

Whether you are a congregation needing a partner or a potential partner church looking for an opportunity, you can find several essentials to any partnership in this local story. We are definitely stronger together, so let’s ask God to give us a vision for how he will use us in this movement of strengthening churches in South Carolina and beyond.

  • James Nugent

    James Nugent

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