Christ Church News & Encouragement from Pastor Jon
Dearest Members of Christ Church,
The past three years have been a wonderful whirlwind of growth and blessing at Christ Church Presbyterian. It’s been amazing to watch God work through His Word to gather together a new church body— one with passion for God, love for one another, and a big heart for the lost. What a joy to watch our Lord create a new local congregation through His beautiful means of grace. He has done it. He is doing it. He will continue to do it. Soli Deo Gloria!
Personally, I am deeply grateful for our church family. I thank God for providing me and my family with such a loving community of believers and friends to walk through life with— rejoicing with those who rejoice and weeping with those who weep (Rom. 12:15). In three short years we have witnessed the cultivation of authentic, gospel-centered friendships. Regularly I hear reports of our church members getting together during the week to encourage one another. Many of you are opening your homes and showing hospitality to members and new visitors. That kind of organic (non-programmed) fellowship fosters strong and lasting friendships. As a pastor, I am profoundly humbled to serve such a godly and gifted congregation. It is a privilege to be your under-shepherd. My heart is full with pastoral love and affection for you, and I truly believe that the best is yet to come.
Christ Church is experiencing steady growth. New faces are turning up every week in Lord’s Day worship and our membership classes are quite full. I believe people are hungry for serious worship, preaching, and discipleship. Our culture is unraveling, and folks are searching for a theologically sound and historically rooted expression of Christianity. The Reformed Faith—winsomely and compassionately set forth— offers just that. Increasing numbers of millennials are tired of the silliness of entertainment-driven churches. They want substance, and only Christ will satisfy that longing.
As Christ Church moves towards particularization at the end of August, I sense the need to touch upon a few important items to keep you up to speed and to inform (fuel) your prayers.
My recent sermon series seems to have touched a nerve. I think we all know that Christians are living in a new and challenging day in our culture. Those who choose compromise and accommodation over faith and courage will eventually fall away. Culture-driven churches— even evangelical ones— will soon disappear. Being a biblical Christian will no longer be expedient or culturally acceptable— maybe even illegal in some instances. That’s why now more than ever we must abide in Christ (John 15:10-15), devote ourselves to the means of grace (Acts 2:42), foster strong fellowship with one another in the Church (Eph. 2:19-22; Heb. 10:23-25), and be “against the world for the world” (contra mundum, pro mundo, Rom. 12:1-2). By the grace of God we must stand firm, be courageous, and spur on one another. United to Christ our Captain, we are more than conquerors (Rom. 8:37).
LAND | FACILITY
The most frequent questions I receive concern the subject of future facilities. Where are we going to end up and when are we going to get there? These questions are always on my mind and daily in my prayers. Our current membership is about 160, and our attendance, when most are in town, nears 200. Most of us are ready to find a longterm home for Christ Church.
From the first meetings with the Presbytery 3.5 years ago we have clearly communicated our vision to plant a PCA church downtown or south of the IOP connector in Mount Pleasant. These locations were approved by the presbytery (with several PCA congregations we needed to get approval regarding where we would plant). We’ve always believed that these two locations would be most strategic for establishing a growing, self-sustaining congregation that will make a lasting impact upon the greater Charleston area and the world.
Thus far the Lord has blessed our efforts, as He has gathered to Himself at Christ Church individuals and families committed to being gospel witnesses in numerous spheres in our city— academics, artists, teachers, housewives, inventors, entrepreneurs, athletes, attorneys, contractors, doctors, accountants, medical students, real estate agents computer programmers, and on we could go. The members of Christ Church are salt and light all over Charleston. We are committed, therefore, to finding a location that puts us in downtown or not far from the Cooper River Bridge in Mount Pleasant.
There have been some interesting possibilities for land and/or buildings over the past couple of years. We’ve explored those possibilities with the intention of bringing them to the congregation if the possibility seemed feasible. But nothing has emerged to that level. Just two weeks ago I received a communication from one of our members about a church building for sale downtown (Right behind Second Presbyterian Church near Marion Square). Pastor Ross and I went and looked at it with the selling agent. The church is a beautiful mid-nineteenth century structure with stunning architectural features and seats over 1000 people. However, there is extensive water damage all over the building and the smell of mold almost knocked us over when we first entered the building. Whoever purchases this facility will need to do extensive renovations that will cost millions. The $4.25 million price tag is high for this property, and there is no parking connected to the church. Suffice it to say, we will not be pursuing this option.
On Thursday Pastor Ross, Bill Barnhill, our two elder-elects Scott Buchanan and Keith Hester, and I will be meeting with a commercial real estate agent at our church offices to discuss our congregation’s needs. Please pray for this meeting. And pray that God would open up the right property for Christ Church to trumpet forth the gospel for generations to come. Moreover, please pray about how God would have your family to give sacrificially towards a capital fundraising campaign that will begin as soon as we identify a piece of land or facility that our congregation votes we should move forward on.
On August 28th Christ Church will celebrate particularization; that is, we will move from mission/church plant status to a fully constituted congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America. In order for us to do this the congregation needs teaching and ruling elders— a session. Our congregation voted two weeks ago to elect Dr. Scott Buchanan and Mr. Keith Hester to serve as ruling elders and called me to be Pastor and Ross to be Associate Pastor. Therefore, a commission from the presbytery will join us on Sunday morning, August 28th to officially ordain and install our ruling elders as well as install Ross and me as pastors.
It’s going to be a grand occasion as senior ministers and representatives will be joining us from supporting churches around the southeast to help us celebrate God’s faithfulness in the planting of Christ Church Presbyterian. After the special worship service we will make the five minute drive over to Alhambra Hall in the Old Village, Mount Pleasant and enjoy a catered lunch, music, and a day of fellowship. Our evening service will be held at Alhambra Hall as well.
PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDARS NOW FOR THIS HISTORIC SUNDAY IN THE LIFE OF CHRIST CHURCH. WE WOULD LOVE ALL OF OUR MEMBERS TO TAKE PART IN THIS SPECIAL DAY.
ELDERS & DEACONS
Dr. Buchanan and Mr. Hester, our elder-elects, will be ordained and installed as ruling elders for Christ Church on August 28th. Thereafter they will serve in an official capacity as under-shepherds of our flock— although they have already been demonstrating the hearts and actions of Christ Church elders by shepherding members of our flock in several ways (e.g. hospital visits, counseling, hospitality, etc.). I thank God for these two men. They are humble, servant-hearted, and godly men. Both have loving marriages and godly wives. I can’t wait to serve with them. Please pray for God’s strength and wisdom to fill these brothers as they begin the important task of shepherding God’s flock. Pray also for the following men who have been trained and will be examined this fall and potentially recommended by the session to serve as our first deacons— Mr. Jeff Gee, Mr. Wen Bumgardner, Mr. Andrew Godwin, Mr. Matt Pepin, and Mr. Jake Biles. The congregational vote will take place in September. Stay tuned for more information to come.
SUNDAY SCHOOL | SMALL GROUPS
In my previous congregation, as in most established churches, we had Christian education during the Sunday school hour. The elders and I would tag-team-teach a large adult class on numerous topics such as worship, marriage, covenant theology, prayer, and the Westminster Confession. There would also be classes for children ages five and up. It was a rich time of teaching, discipleship, and fellowship.
We also had monthly small groups that were led by our elders. These groups provided significant times of fellowship and encouragement around God’s Word. It is our full intention to introduce Sunday school and small groups at Christ Church in the future. Moreover, we want to consider how to minister to our youth. Right now, however, we are concentrating our efforts on particularization, assimilation, and location. This fall the session of elders will begin to discuss plans for future ministry endeavors.
CHRIST CHURCH STAFF NEWS
I am pleased to announce that upon the approval of our financial oversight committee, Mrs. Kelly Hester has agreed to serve as Christ Church’s new nursery coordinator. Please pray for Kelly and please commit to serve our covenant children in the nursery rotation if you are not already doing so. It’s a very practical way to serve and get to know the families of CCP.
We are currently on the search for a new music director or accompanist. Please pray for wisdom as we speak to numerous contacts around the country concerning our need for a versatile and gifted accompanist here in Charleston. We are committed to musical excellence at Christ Church.
As the church continues to grow, there are further staffing needs that must be considered. For example, the need for secretarial and administrative help is growing rapidly. Also, we hope to one day establish a pastoral internship program to serve the congregation as well as invest in God’s Kingdom elsewhere. Please pray for wisdom regarding these matters.
If you have any questions about these or other matters, please don’t hesitate to ask. Please drop by our downtown church offices and say hello. We’d love to see you.
Your Pastor, Servant, and Friend,