Page 2 Outreach
and Hanmaum both nancially and with
prayer. We keep our eyes out for new lo-cations for mission development and formission developers.The bottom line is that plantingchurches has given our presbytery a new
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Experiencing Church Planting Culture in the RPCNA
By Rev. Bill Vandoodewaard
During the summer of 2006 my familyand I moved to central Indiana where Itaught at a university. We were ARP’s,and I was a student under care at thetime, but in God’s providence we foundourselves in a state with no ARP church-es, so friends recommended that wevisit Sycamore Reformed Presbyterian(RPCNA) in Kokomo. Warmly welcomed,we soon found ourselves at home in thisvibrant congregation begun as a churchplant years earlier. A year later we foundourselves deeply engaged in the life of the church, as I started interning undertheir pastor, Barry York, in conjunctionwith my ARP Presbytery and our homecongregation; our initial visit turnedinto two years of valuable hands-on min-istry.My wife and I had grown up in old,Christian families; our churches weretypical, well established congregations.This congregation challenged not onlyour preconceived ideas about churchplanting, but also placed us in manysituations that challenged our faith. Weread about Christ eating with prostitutesand thought little of it, but when onewanted to hold our baby at a fellowshiplunch, it put a new perspective on lovingthe unlovely.
This congregation was largely rst-
generation Christians, and almost ev-eryone was new to the Reformed faith;even the pastor had been convertedthrough campus ministry in his collegeyears. This congregation was typicalof the ten other RP congregations and
Rev. Soo Yong Kim
church plants (begun with one in the1960’s) across Indiana in the Great Lakes– Gulf Presbytery. (It basically stretchesfrom Chicago and Michigan down the Mis-sissippi Valley and then out towards theEast Coast; Indiana is really the centralconcentration, and the area of the mostfocused church planting culture.) While
each plant reected their own communi
-ty to a degree, they all had an evangeli-cal heart, confessional Reformed theol-ogy, and Psalm-singing worship.What made these churches evange-listically visionary? How could many of the teenagers in the church deal sociallywith drug addicts better than we could?We had a lot to learn.One characteristic of this churchplanting culture was gracious hospitality.People opened their homes for meals,using their houses as a ministry base toneighbors, co-workers and friends. Sun-day fellowship meals at the church werea weekly occasion where members min-istered to each other as well as the menfrom a local rescue mission. In home andchurch, the congregation loved us wherewe were at. We were not scrutinized, ordesperately welcomed; the members of the church genuinely wanted us to bepart of their lives. They loved people be-cause they knew Christ’s love.This love was combined with humble,gracious discipling and mentorship mod-eled by elders/pastors and woven intocongregants’ lives. Members were activein encouraging others to live by faith inChrist and grow in His grace. Everyone ex-perienced shepherding and discipleship.Pastors and elders maintained meaningful
relationships with the ock. The church
had a general culture of wanting to loveand know each other and newcomers. Atthe same time, they did not ignore or ex-cuse sin. Necessary exhortation, rebuke,and warning took place: there was ironsharpening iron, but in the context of anevident, existing relationship of Christianlove. The combination of evangelismand deliberate, active mentoring wascentral to the culture of church plantingin the presbytery.Another grace evident to us was pa-tient trust. Though the work was oftenhard, the effort was steady, despitedeep disappointments and hard situa-tions. The congregation understood thatGod would bless His Word spoken andlived; it would not return to him void.They knew that if they could be saved,so could anyone else. They ministeredand loved to glorify God, regardless of results. In some ways, God used thedetermined ministry of these frontlinechurches to make them beautiful beforethey saw fruit. While to us the physicallandscape of a depressed central Indi-ana factory town was bleak, the spiri-tual landscape of the church here wasbeautiful. It was not at all perfect, butthe beauty of Christ’s redeeming gracewas clearly evident.Over the two-year internship, welearned one lesson over and over againfrom these Indiana churches: the onething you most need to plant a congre-gation is a love for Christ. A true lovefor the Saviour will express itself in trustin Him, and a love for sinners like Jesushas. If you have this, you do not needmultiple programs, gimmicks, your ownbuilding, or even music with your sing-ing. Obeying the greatest commandmentto love God above all and your neighboras yourself is still a lesson we are learn-ing—something that every congregationdesperately needs its people to know.
Sycamore RP Church
attitude. We can better see how we re-late together as we work to build HisKingdom. Teddy Ray, the chairman of ourONA committee when we began planting,and Steve Weber, the current chairman,both know that when they give their re-
ports on the oor of presbytery, every
ear is open to hear what God is doingnext. The attitude is there- an attitudeof gratitude!
the one thing youmost need to plant acongregation is a love forChrist