The 2,700-square-foot slot in a strip mall sat empty for 15 years. After the previous tenant closed the site’s “Saints Place” bar and grill, the storefront became a storage room for odds and ends of the mall’s management group. The only partitioned rooms were two small, dirty bathrooms in the far back corner.
A year ago on a cold, windy day, Baptist Church Planters missionaries Scott and Brooke Greening and a few others of us shaded our eyes from the afternoon sun, attempting to peer into the large storefront windows. We tried to see past the grime and dust, imagining a different type of “Saints Place” gathering. This saints’ fellowship would occur around Christ, rather than around beer and pretzels.
This was not the only site we considered, but ultimately it seemed the best suited for our purposes. Over the following months, the community zoning board and trustees granted the church permission to lease the space, and the contract was signed. Great Commission Baptist Church had a new home—2,700 square feet of a gritty junk room, including two ugly bathrooms.
The events that unfolded during the subsequent weeks were truly remarkable. Often I have championed the genius of our association of like-minded churches by using the phrase, “Together we can accomplish more.” I saw that concept transformed into reality as churches and ministry organizations came together in partnership. The following sampling of togetherness illustrates the marvel of functional cooperation, resulting in the construction of a lovely, versatile facility.
A deacon from a nearby sister church donated his architectural skills, designing an attractive and highly efficient plan that maximized the potential of the available space.
The Chicago Area Regular Baptist Church Planters consortium generously provided a grant, as did the Illinois/Missouri Association of Regular Baptist Churches and ChurchCare, a subsidiary ministry of BCP.
ChurchCare Construction missionary builders Brent and Michelle Howard used their superb trade skills for the build-out of the facility. The craftsmanship was exceptional, as were Brent’s managerial abilities.
Teams of workers came from GARBC churches in Creston, Mason City, and Waterloo, Iowa. The teams built walls, pulled wire, hung ceiling tile, prepared meals, ran errands, and accomplished myriad details.
A pastor’s wife from Littleton, Ill., connected the church with a local electrical contractor, who pulled the permits and oversaw the project, charging only for materials.
Churches in Iowa, New York, Illinois, Ohio, and Florida provided financial support, including money from kids participating in a Regular Baptist Press Vacation Bible School missions project.
Teens and their leaders from churches in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Illinois came to canvass thousands of homes, distributing gospel and church promotional literature. They did acts of kindness in surrounding neighborhoods, introducing people to Christ. Similar beginning efforts happened the previous two summers as well. A nearby sister church housed the groups.
Church-planting instructor and director of Baptist Bible College and Seminary’s Project Jerusalem, Ken Davis, was a ready and willing advisor, dedicating time to lend counsel regarding the finer points of church planting.
Baptist Builders Club has been a funding source, providing grants to assist with the first rent payment and to enable a massive phone campaign to take place, resulting in many legitimate prospects for the church.
Baptist Church Planters administrators gave guidance and infrastructure support, providing accountability and encouragement over the long haul.
It really does take a village—actually a network of churches and ministries–to plant a church. As I watched this process taking place, I was reminded that we could not have done it without each other. Praise the Lord for friends who willingly sacrifice for friends! This type of endeavor can happen over and over again. Jump in—help plant churches! “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever” (Ephesians 3:20, 21).