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To the Ends of the Earth: Church Planting and the Foolishness of Our Methods

April 20, 2017

by Ross Hodges

As I approached graduation from WSC, I told my wife that I was willing to consider almost any possible call, with one notable exception - church planting. The thought of being part of something that was starting from scratch, something that had no support system already in place, something which had no guarantee of “success,” scared me.

And then it happened - we were invited to be part of a church plant. A seasoned minister who was a trusted friend and mentor would be the organizing pastor, and I would be an assistant pastor. After much prayer and counsel, we decided this was the Lord’s call on our lives, and one week after graduating from WSC, we moved into our new apartment in Charleston, South Carolina. The next day, the core group of Christ Church Presbyterian met for its first worship service. 

As the beginning months of the church plant rolled by, my previous timidity towards church planting never disappeared entirely. I saw clearly that God had done a marvelous work in bringing us the people and resources to continually move forward, but unspoken doubts still niggled at me. 

Looking back, I realize that I struggled to practically believe what I had learned at WSC - that God would build his church through the “foolishness” of his Word. From the very beginning, our commitment had been to a philosophy of ministry that was centered on the ordinary means of grace: the Word, sacraments, and prayer. Unlike most “successful” church plants with which I was familiar, our special “program” was to preach the Word, administer the sacraments, and pray. This of course came in the context of loving people and providing the best shepherding care we knew how, but none of it was culturally hip or exciting by modern standards. We didn’t have a worship band; we didn’t have great coffee or a relaxing atmosphere; we didn’t have particularly great ideas about advertising or getting the word out; we didn’t even have community groups.

"Looking back, I realize that I struggled to practically believe what I had learned at WSC - that God would build his church through the “foolishness” of his Word."

In other words, according to conventional wisdom, we were doing everything wrong. And yet, despite all of that, the church grew. And grew. And continues to grow. Grandparents, millennials, boomers, students, professionals - all of them came and continue to come and are inviting their friends. And they come because though “the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing…to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18). God’s people come and grow and flourish because “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong” (1 Cor. 1:27).

I gladly confess that the planting of Christ Church Presbyterian has nothing to do with what the world, and oftentimes evangelicalism, considers necessary and important. Rather, it has everything to do with the power of God’s Word as it goes forth and gathers his flock. Soli Deo Gloria.