Five Reasons Why We’re Partnering With A Sister Church
4/14/23 Update: How amazing is our God? Gethsemane Baptist has gone from a church that baptized 1 person in 10 years to a church that’s baptized 6 people in a few weeks! THIS is what happens when churches partner together for the sake of the Gospel! THIS is what happens when a church like Northwood chooses to help other churches. THIS is what happens when we open our hands to God and give Him our resources and people for Him to use as He desires! We are seeing a move of God in our church and at Gethsemane, and I’m praying it continues!
The following was originally released as a podcast featuring Pastor Tommy Meador, Randy Jackson, and Logan Catoe discussing the future Partnership Agreement between Northwood Baptist Church, N. Charleston, SC, and Gethsemane Baptist Church, Summerville, SC.
If every person in the state of South Carolina desired to attend church on any given Sunday morning, there would not be enough churches to accommodate them. About 36 people move to the low country every day. In recent decades, the answer to that was to plant new churches. However, there is another way. Why not help struggling churches live again by teaching them how to reach their communities with the Gospel?
Our relationship with Gethsemane Baptist is a fostering partnership. We want to come alongside them and provide support, resources, time, and energy – essentially offering them the kitchen sink. Whatever we have is now at their disposal to use or not use as they strive to live again.
Here are five reasons why we are partnering with Gethsemane Baptist:
1. Struggling churches need encouragement and help.
In our initial meeting with the leadership of this struggling church, what was the atmosphere in the room?
It was like this daunting task; they had reached a point where they could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. The hole was too deep, and they didn’t know how or if it was even possible for them to survive.
They do not have a full-time pastor and haven’t had one in a long time. They said, “We don’t know what to do.”
The church has been there for 52 years, and the members want their church to live. They have some very faithful members doing the work of keeping up with their facilities and keeping the lights on. They are starting to burn out – you can only do that for so long. They have an excellent facility, 7-8 acres of land in an ideal location. They have about 20 people who are older in life. It has been a long time since they had real, sustainable leadership. They had several good preachers that were bi-vocational and involved in other things. When you have not had sufficient leadership, it is easy to get into a hopeless situation. They do not want to lose their church.
Many churches are in this situation. Thousands of churches of different denominations can’t make it anymore. There are lots of reasons why. They have lost their vision, haven’t adapted to the times, or whatever the case may be. Southern Baptists are losing, on average, 21 churches every Sunday! For a church like Gethsemane, that could have been their future.
However, Gethsemane took a step of faith. They knew they needed another church to come alongside them to help them grow again. That’s when we stepped up and told them that we could be the church to help them. Just think about a church like Northwood partnering with a struggling church. It immediately begins to restore hope. You could sense Gethsemane’s hope on the Sunday night we had our joint worship time together. I’m sure the members of Gethsemane were thinking, “There is someone on our side; there is another church that has got our back in this.” That’s huge! There is HOPE! Christ always gives hope to His people.
We told them when we first starting meeting with their leadership that this isn’t going to take an astronomical amount of resources. We don’t think it will take vast amounts of time and money to see Gethsemane grow again. We’re just going to do some very simple things the church is called to do. They were encouraged by some ideas that could have a massive impact on the community around them. When you think about the story of Northwood’s growth over the past few years, Northwood’s growth has been because our church has chosen to keep our eyes on the mission. We have done the very basic things God called us to do. If we take some of our DNA and put it into Gethsemane Baptist, I believe it will be very helpful for them. They will see God’s Spirit at work in the life of their church.
2. The lost need to see vibrant churches in their communities
What impression do you get when you drive down Highway 176 toward Gethsemane Baptist?
Most churches you pass have very little activity during the week, maybe a car or two. You have no clue if anything is going on, any outreach to the community, any activities for children, etc.
When people ride by Northwood, do people get the impression that Northwood is a vibrant church?
I think people see a lot of activity. We have a lot of people on campus. July 4th Fireworks, Trunk or Treat, having things on campus during the week. Because we allow so many different organizations to use our facility, It opens the door for Gospel conversations. The people see that the church is open and things are going on. We have had a countless number of families who have started visiting our church because we have opened our doors to other churches, civic groups, local schools, HOAs, Wassamassaw Tribe meetings, etc.
3. The mission of the church extends beyond the community.
There are lots of lost people in our community, and there are lots of lost people beyond our local community. That’s why we are interested in partnering with Gethsemane Baptist, partnering with a church plant in Boston, or partnering with a missionary in Indonesia. We want to be faithful. We want to reach our community. We believe God has given us a responsibility to reach the greater Charleston area with the Gospel. We think we can reach the greater Charleston area by having a Kingdom mindset where churches work together to reach the whole area for the Gospel. It has to be a joint effort. Worldwide, there are 3.5 billion people that do not have access to the Gospel. It is our responsibility to knock out some of that. This is a team effort. This is the part that we need to play now.
This is about the Kingdom of God. This is our mission. Jesus called us to do this. We want to reach our community and help Gethsemane reach theirs.
4. God has blessed us to be a blessing.
We believe God has equipped Northwood Baptist, strategically located us, and given us abundant resources to spread the Gospel. God has not only blessed us with financial resources, but He has also blessed us with people willing to be a blessing to others. We do not want to take that for granted. God has not blessed us to sit and enjoy life but to use our resources to help others. The uniqueness of our church and the giftedness and experience we share as the people of Northwood gives us the skills and abilities needed to partner with another church.
This is a biblical principle, and here is the reality. We have individuals who have been blessed so they can bless others. We have families that want to bless other families. We have been blessed as a church so we can bless other churches. God has uniquely blessed Northwood Baptist, and we will not hoard those resources. For the next couple of years, we are going to plug in at Gethsemane Baptist and help them through this time.
5. Revived churches give hope to other struggling churches.
Gethsemane is not the only church that is struggling right now. Across this area, there are many other churches facing hardships. When Gethsemane starts baptizing people again, experiencing new life, would that be an encouragement to other churches? We hope that as we get Gethsemane back on their feet again, other churches will be encouraged by what God is doing at Gethsemane.
We need other healthy churches to say, “We can partner with another church and help them.” It’s empowering to see other churches alongside a struggling church needing revitalization. Don’t let these churches die and sell the property to another church! We want to repeat this process. We want other churches to do this! We need everything we can throw at the dartboard to reach this city for the Gospel.
“It will not always be glamorous, but in the end, both churches will be stronger and better equipped to spread the Gospel!”