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Church Planting in Myrtle Beach’s Wave of Growth

Church Planting in Myrtle Beach’s Wave of Growth

Church Planting in Myrtle Beach’s Wave of Growth

With Myrtle Beach being the fastest-growing city in the country, church planting efforts in the Grand Strand are a top priority for SCBaptist’s Start Team.

Tom Gore, Church Planting Strategist at SCBaptist, explained that the Grand Strand has seen massive growth in recent years. The allure of the area comes from a mild climate, job opportunities, and relatively low cost of living compared to the national average. “The result has been our region becoming the fastest growing in the United States for the third year in a row,” he said.

With an average of 50 people moving daily to the area, “The Grand Strand is the most significant area in the Palmetto State for our churches to reach every life,” Gore said.

Bringing the Association’s total to five church plants, the Waccamaw Baptist Association celebrates three new church plants in January 2023.

Challenges and Opportunities

Jeff Gaskins was a pastor in the area for 16 years before joining the Waccamaw Baptist Association (WBA) as the Associational Mission Strategist. He explained that there are 78 churches in the WBA, which contains about 19,000 church members. “For reference, the equivalent of the entire membership of our Association moved here in one year, and that’s just increasing,” Gaskins said.

The area presents some challenges for church planters specifically. First, many transplants come from the Northeast, bringing a Catholic or completely unchurched background with them. Jordan Gandy, pastor of Coastal Life Community Church, recently baptized an 84-year-old man and his 80-year-old wife. “That’s unheard of for many churches, but they had a fresh hunger for the truth because they had never heard it,” Gandy said.

“Like any area that’s growing, there is a microcosm of issues and sin that come with that, like drug addiction, alcoholism, and trafficking,” Gaskins said. “That’s not happening someplace else; that’s happening right here.” Though these issues are not unique to the Grand Strand, they do pose a challenge in the area.

“It is a unique area, but there are great opportunities with the number of people moving here that need to know the Gospel,” Gaskins said.

Living Water Baptist serves as the sending church of the Chinese Church of the Grand Strand, pastored by Tao Sun.

Intentional Approach to Planting

The Start Team and the WBA are united in their approach to reaching the lost in the Grand Strand. “We need every existing church to be healthy and growing, and we need churches to plant churches to keep pace with the growth,” Gaskins said.

Similarly, Gore explained that there is also a need for SCBaptist churches to invest in the area. “We prayed that God would send more folks to our churches, and God answered!” Gore said. For the Start Team, strategic partnerships with churches outside of the area pivoting their missional efforts to the Grand Strand will be vital for the future trajectory of church planting in Myrtle Beach.

Coastal Life Community Church baptizes 10 believers at Myrtle Beach State Park in September 2023.

Growth and Outreach

Another key factor of success is community outreach. Coastal Life Community Church, now in its fifth year, wants to continue to grow its outreach efforts. In the last year, they have hosted Vacation Bible School and a Fall Festival to reach their community. In the coming months, they plan to host Love Myrtle Beach Week, which involves prayer walking, free car washes, partnering with local schools to feed teachers and staff, passing out water bottles, and more.

Although the growth is at a bit of a standstill due to reaching capacity at their current meeting location, Gandy is hopeful for the future and is encouraged by what he sees. One evidence of growth for Coastal Life is that they currently have their highest attendance record for Life Groups, which are weekly discipleship gatherings.

As the population continues to change, one thing remains steadfast: the commitment of the SCBaptist Start Team, the Waccamaw Baptist Association, and local churches to spread the light of the Gospel in this rapidly growing region.


  • Anna Gardner

    Anna Gardner

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