Joys & Challenges of Church Planting
The Apostle Paul brought greetings to the church at Thessalonica by joyfully expressing: “We ought always to give thanks to God for you … because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing” (2 These. 1:3). The Lord was clearly at work in their lives through the Word and Spirit.
It is with a heart of sincere gratitude that I give thanks to God for you, the members of Christ Church, for the same reasons. Indeed, these past six years I’ve witnessed the fruit of spiritual growth in your lives and the evidence of your deepening love for one other. We are maturing as a congregation. We ordained seven new officers (2 ruling elders and 5 deacons) in the spring. We are supporting new missionaries. There is a renewed zeal for worship, giving, evangelism, and service. Many new members are joining Christ Church this month. Hospitality and encouragement are multiplying in our flock. The evening service is growing tremendously. I could go on. The Lord is at work through his means of grace!
This unity and spiritual growth, however, have not come without tough challenges. 2019 has been a hard year. Since January we have said goodbye to numerous committed families who moved away from Charleston to begin new lives elsewhere. Moreover, we’ve seen several families move on from Christ Church to join other congregations. Consequently our membership has atrophied. All of these transitions have been difficult for one reason or another. But through it all the Lord humbles, instructs, prunes, and strengthens his people. God knows what he is doing, and we can trust him (c.f. Proverbs 3:5-6).
For a small and growing six-year-old church, things are very busy, especially for your pastor. For instance, this week alone there are administration responsibilities on Monday afternoon, a Deacons’ meeting on Monday evening, CCP staff meeting on Tuesday morning, prepare for and teach at Dead Theologians Society and Small Group Bible Study on Tuesday afternoon and evening, sermon preparation for the Lord’s Day, preparation of liturgies and bulletin, hospital visit, attend concert on Wednesday evening in support of our gifted musicians Chee Hang See and Antonio Marti, interact with commercial real estate agents about lease possibility, attend Lowcountry Presbytery meeting most of Thursday, pastoral visitation, counseling, record “Between the Times” podcast episodes, show hospitality to visiting missionaries, writing deadlines, denominational responsibilities, and the list goes on. I don’t pretend to be any busier than all of you. I only share a few of these details so that you know how to better pray for me and for my family in this busy season of ministry.
For our members and regular attenders, there are numerous ways to grow, serve, sacrifice, and invest at Christ Church. We are not a mega-church with myriad programs for every life-stage, but our schedule is quite full of soul-enriching activity and avenues of service. If you are a member or regular attender, I warmly encourage you to jump in and get involved. You will regret some things in life, but being earnestly devoted to your church — the church for which Christ died — will not be one of them.
Friendship Sunday: December 8th
Do you have friends, co-workers, or neighbors that you’ve been meaning to invite to church? Do you know folks who need Christ and a church home? Friendship Sunday is a great opportunity to welcome them to attend Christ Church, hear the good news of the gospel, meet some of our members, and share a meal after the service. Who are you planning to invite?
Christmas Eve Service
Our annual Christmas Eve service will take place once again at the lovely St. Johannes Lutheran Church in downtown Charleston (48 Hasell Street). Please make plans to join us with your family and extended family as we rejoice in the incarnation and birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.
CCP Ladies Christmas Fellowship
All ladies of Christ Church are warmly invited to the annual Christ Church Ladies Christmas Fellowship at the Paynes (1381 Scotts Creek Circle, Mt Pleasant) on December 11th, 7:00 p.m. It is a delightful evening filled with joyful singing, delicious food, and meaningful fellowship. Mark your calendar for this wonderful evening of Christmas joy!
CCP Small Groups
Launched in the spring, the CCP monthly small groups have gotten off to a fantastic start! Personally, it’s one of my favorite evenings of the month! Last night our group enjoyed fellowship around a Thanksgiving feast and then gathered in Jeff and Kristin Gee’s living room to study God’s precious Word. There are currently five small groups that meet for dinner, Bible study, and fellowship in different locations around the Charleston region. Our groups are presently studying Sinclair Ferguson’s excellent book, “Maturity.” If you are not currently involved in a small group and would like to be, please contact our small group coordinator, Mr. Whit Jacobs, at email@example.com.
Missionary Christmas Gift Boxes
Christ Church is earnestly committed to world missions. We want the gospel to go out to our neighbors and to the nations! We support ten missionary church planters from Boston, Massachusetts to Bangalore, India. This year, as a way of encouraging our missionary families, we are sending out surprise gift boxes to them for Christmas. Most of the boxes are accounted for, but there are a few left. Feel free to partner with another Christ Church family in this endeavor. My family is teaming-up with the Brindis de Salas’s to send a box to missionary church planters Mike and Janie Brown in Milan, Italy. Let’s be a blessing to our missionaries this Christmas!
2019 Budget Shortfall
Numerous families transitioned from Christ Church in the spring. Most of these dear members of CCP moved away from Charleston to begin new lives in other places. Some moved churches for doctrinal reasons. It’s not only been hard to say goodbye to all of these dear families, it’s also been hard on our budget. Indeed, it is always hard on a church budget when several families leave at one time, especially in a church with 150 members! We are projected to have a $150k budget shortfall in 2019. Thankfully, we never spend all the money in our annual budget, and we have a healthy amount in reserves. Nevertheless, if you have the ability and desire to help us reach our projected year end budget goals, that would be wonderful, and would help us to not have to dip into our reserves. And let’s remember God’s promise: “Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.” (Proverbs 3:9-10)
CCP Sunday School
After a productive meeting with the principal of Moultrie Middle School, and bringing bagels and coffee to the teachers and faculty one morning last month, we now have permission to begin Sunday school classes again at Christ Church. We will launch the program for all ages in mid-January. Please stay tuned for more information on times, room designations, and instructors.
In addition to these news items and announcements, there are many other things going on in the life of the church— women’s Coram Deo Bible Study, weekly Men of the Covenant men’s Bible study, prayer meeting, bi-weekly Dead Theologians Society (studying John Owen’s Communion with God), women’s and men’s retreats, church picnics, Young Adult and MUSC weekly dinner and Bible Study, baby showers, catechism kids on Sunday afternoons, Sunday set up crews, nursery workers, CCP welcome and assimilation team, Operation Christmas Child, Between the Times CCP podcast, and more.
Dearest members of Christ Church, don’t live on the margins of church life. God never intended that his children hold each other at arm’s length and live on the outskirts of the fellowship. We are called to love one another and sacrifice for one another in tangible ways. We are called to serve in mission together. How are you doing this? How is the church’s schedule reflected in your personal schedule? We grow and mature in Christian community, not in isolation. Therefore, let’s go into the new year with renewed intentionality as it concerns our devotion to God and to one another in the church. Blessed Holy Spirit, revive our hearts and renew our zeal for the Savior … and for one another.
Your Pastor, Servant, and Friend,