The Greenhouse Series: Restoration Church in Washington, DC

[Note: The Greenhouse Series promotes church planting and church renewal in the United States. Each installment spotlights a specific church that has recently been planted or is in the process of revitalization, as a means of encouraging our readership in the victories of the gospel and allowing them the opportunity to support these churches.]

My friends Nathan Knight and Joey Craft are SEBTS alums and co-planters and pastors of Restoration Church in Washington, DC (www.restorationchurchdc.com). Nathan and Joey were trained, assessed, and sent out by North Wake Church in Wake Forest, NC. The Knight and Craft families moved to urban Washington, DC in 2010 and began meeting in Nathan’s apartment in preparation to plant Restoration church. In the paragraphs that follow, I will provide a very concise snapshot of their history together, and offer you some ways to pray for them and support them.

As Nathan, Joey, and their families met together with an initial group, they read and discussed Tim Keller’s The Prodigal God, the discussion of which offered an inroad to move their small but growing gathering toward more in-depth Bible study. Their book study led into a brief overview of the Bible, which led to a study of Galatians and Colossians. Soon, they shifted the group’s format from a discussion-based gathering to a teaching time and finally to a time for preaching of the word. Soon, they were meeting in an area community center, and eventually in a meeting-house where they currently gather on Sunday evenings. Restoration Church covenanted together as 17 members on March 28, 2010. Another 15 members covenanted in November of 2010, and Restoration is currently going through its third round of membership.

God has graciously given Restoration Church ample gospel opportunities in DC. A recent happening might suffice as an example of those opportunities. In the city, Nathan met a local couple, Tyrone and Edna. They were selling newspapers to earn enough money in order to stay in a hotel each night. Nathan invited them to their gathering in his apartment, since which time Tyrone and Edna both have come to faith in Christ through the ministry of the church. The couple now has an apartment and both were recently baptized and are committed members of the congregation. This one story serves as an illustration of Restoration’s desire for and efforts toward seeing God build a Christ-centered, ethnically diverse church in the heart of the nation’s capitol. Along with residents from all over the States, Restoration has enjoyed seeing citizens from Philippines, Malaysia, China, Taiwan, India, Ethiopia, South Africa, Germany, Japan, Bangladesh, and Nigeria attend the church. Christ Jesus, the King of the nations, is using Nathan, Joey, and Restoration Church to reach the nations.

In light of our Lord’s work in Washington, DC through the Knights, the Crafts, and Restoration Church, how can we join them? We can (1) pray for the congregation’s growth in the grace and knowledge of the Lord; (2) pray for grace, power, and wisdom for the Knight and Craft families; (3) pray that Christ’s Spirit would work in the hearts of the attendees of Restoration so that the gospel will continue to go to the nations; and (4) provide financial support by contacting Nathan Knight at nathan@restorationchurchdc.com.

Check out Restoration Church’s website (www.restorationchurchdc.com) to receive video updates every other month, listen to sermons, and read their blog, which is a collection of thoughts intended to spur on authentic Christianity.

The Greenhouse Series: Cornerstone Church, Myrtle Beach

[Note: The Greenhouse Series promotes church planting and church renewal in the United States. Each installment spotlights a specific church that has recently been planted or is in the process of revitalization, as a means of encouraging our readership in the victories of the gospel and allowing them the opportunity to support these churches.]

Russ Bennett, Scott Moody, Nathan Moore, and Kevin Hill are SEBTS alums and co-planters of Cornerstone Church in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The four men and their families were trained at SEBTS and their sending church, Open Door Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. Several men completed Open Door’s two-year internship program and then became the first church-planting team sent out by out by the North American Church Planting Foundation (http://www.nacpf.org/), a new foundation created with the intention of helping local churches be involved in church planting. The support from Open Door and the shared time at SEBTS thus provided these church planters the equipping and encouragement needed to plant a church on the beach.

Myrtle Beach was selected as the location for this church plant through the collaborative efforts of Open Door and Cornerstone Baptist Church in Florence, South Carolina – a partner church with Cornerstone, Myrtle Beach. Due to the desire for a like-minded church expressed by members from Cornerstone, Florence who had moved to Myrtle Beach, the growing general population – especially transplants from the northern U.S., and the large concentration of college students and internationals, Myrtle Beached seemed an ideal location for a new church plant.

The overarching desire of Bennett, Moody, Moore, and Hill was to plant a church serious about gospel-centered theology and ecclesiology into this setting. After moving to Myrtle Beach in 2009, Cornerstone gathered as six-to-eight families in the Moore’s living room for five months. Cornerstone then held two weeks of preview services and publicly launched on Easter Sunday, April 4, 2010.

Cornerstone has enjoyed some gospel successes in Myrtle Beach, though not without challenges. Nathan notes, “it has been extremely challenging to plant a church with a high view of church membership.” Yet, Nathan also shares that one of his greatest joys is to watch members who have bristled at the notion of covenant membership, some to the point public violation, come under discipline and be gently restored to fellowship. These members give testimony “of experiencing radical love and forgiveness.” These marks of sanctification in the church have been accompanied by seeing several people come to know Christ through the church, three of whom have become full members. Also, many of the regular attendees (around 60 each Sunday) were un-churched or de-churched prior to attending CCCMB. These are but a few examples of how CCMB seeks to glorify God in Myrtle Beach.

So, how can we come alongside CCMB? (1) We can pray for increasing sanctification in the membership of CCMB and for grace, power, and wisdom for the Bennett, Moody, Moore, and Hill families; (2) pray that God would send mature believers, those who can more readily share in the ministry, to join the church; and, (3) we can provide financial support or help with a short-term support trip by contacting Scott Moody (scott@ccmblife.com) and visiting their website: http://www.ccmblife.com.

The Greenhouse Series: Covenant Life Church in Tampa, FL

[Note: The Greenhouse Series promotes church planting and church renewal in the United States. Each installment spotlights a specific church that has recently been planted or is in the process of revitalization, as a means of encouraging our readership in the victories of the gospel and allowing them the opportunity to support these churches.]

Justin Perry and Drew Tucker are SEBTS alums and co-planters and pastors of Covenant Life Church in Tampa, Florida (www.covenantlifetampa.org). Justin and Drew were equipped for their church planting and pastoral ministries through their study at SEBTS and their sending church, North Wake in Wake Forest, NC. The Perry and Tucker families met and became close friends while leading and multiplying small groups at North Wake Church. Through their shared time in North Wake’s church planting residency program and the wise counsel of elders and friends, they recognized that their gifting and desires aligned well – so well they endeavored to plant a church together.

After much prayer and research, Justin and Drew determined that Tampa, Florida for its growing population, diverse cultures, high concentration of university students, and great need for gospel-centered churches was an ideal location for a new church plant. As Drew states, “Tampa has everything you can possibly want in a city. Though this was the overwhelming perspective [from locals] no one mentioned healthy churches” in the urban corridor of the city. Thus, after identifying the major cultural areas within three miles of downtown, the Perrys and Tuckers set about planting right in the middle of them.

In September 2009, they began meeting for worship with 6 people in a living room. In April 2010, they covenanted together as a church with 13 members and began meeting in a public location for corporate worship on Sunday mornings. The first week of April 2011 Covenant Life Church celebrated its 1-year birthday as a church. It now has 30 members and averages somewhere between 70-90 on Sunday mornings.

More important than growing a church in numbers, Justin and Drew focus on the theology of the church, which informs its practice. By adhering to a healthy understanding and practice of regenerate church membership, CLC seeks to equip its members in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. In so doing, the church understands its identity and purpose in Tampa as one wrought by Jesus Christ via his gospel. As Drew states, “we’ve been reminded of what is truly essential in planting: an uncompromising fidelity to the gospel and the authentic community that flows from fellowship in the shadow of the cross.” This authentic community, then, extends into the urban corridor of Tampa. For example, CLC has gained favor with the people of Tampa resulting in opportunities to engage the community with the gospel, from working alongside the city’s homeless ministries to helping sponsor several family events in the city. These are just a few examples of how CLC seeks to live out its gospel identity in the community.

So, how can we come alongside CLC in Tampa? (1) We can pray for continued favor among the diverse Tampa communities for Justin, Drew, and the CLC family; for grace, power, and wisdom for the Perry and Tucker families; and (2) we can provide financial support or help with a short-term support trip by contacting

Drew Tucker, Pastor to Missional Communities: dtucker@covenantlifetampa.org

or

Justin Perry, Teaching Pastor: jperry@covenantlifetampa.org.