On August 12, 2018, seventy people convened to partake of a ceremony few get to witness. None of us had planned on planting a church at the start of the year. Some of us barely knew each other. Some fused together in the furnace of ministry. Some of us just met a few months prior. The strange twist of God’s providence brought together a company of unlikely companions. We were—and still are—an odd group made up of farmers and bankers, engineers and professors, woodworkers and accountants, boomers and millennials, married and single, wealthy and poor. We were so different, but we were bound together by our shared faith in the resurrected Christ.
We first began meeting in April of 2018, all of us thrust into church planting without preparation. On the first Sunday, we gathered for worship, unsure who might come. Over one hundred people showed up. God was on the move. Our leadership team, made up of some of the godliest and hardworking men I’ve ever met, began to lay the groundwork and vision for a new church in our city. I look back on the summer of 2018, and I wonder how we did it—in fact, it wasn’t us. It was the Lord. We accomplished in a few months what most church plants have the leisurely pace of a year or more. We needed more space for children, a guy to lead music, a service order for worship, a budget—wait! First, we needed a bank account. But, that was the small stuff. We needed to draft our confession of faith, our church covenant, and our constitution and by-laws.
We clarified our vision as we taught it. Each Sunday sermon, I cobbled together reflections from the Scriptures to help guide this growing ship filled with people. During the brief planting phase, we stuck close to the word and relied on the wisdom of God.
As our founding day drew near, our leadership team busied themselves with seventy membership interviews in the span of a few weeks. The list of founding members took shape, and we were ready to commit before God to love one another and partner together to reach our city.
On August 12, the Lord formed a local assembly of his church, the saints bound in covenant known as Redemption Church of Wilson. We sang together. We prayed together. We reflected on the Scriptures together. The seventy of us stood together and recited our church covenant in a united voice.
Having, as we trust, been brought by Divine Grace to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and to give up ourselves to Him, and having been baptized upon our profession of faith, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, we do now, relying on His gracious aid, solemnly and joyfully renew our covenant with each other…
Then, family after family came up to sign the covenant. There arose laughter, smiles, tears, and hugs. A sweet concoction of joy and thankfulness saturated the room that evening. By the end of the evening, we exiles and strangers had become family, brothers and sisters grafted in covenantal love for one another and committed to the glory of Christ. We feasted upon the body and blood of Christ together for the first time, and we gave glory to God.
As our church marks its first anniversary, my gratitude and love for Redemption Church have expanded larger than I knew possible. What a privilege to belong to a church so devoted to the gospel, so hungry for the Scriptures, so united around sound doctrine, so zealous for the mission of God, and so committed to loving one another. It is a blessing to just belong to a church like Redemption, let alone to have the privilege of being its pastor.
Redemption Church, I am so grateful for you, for your faithfulness to Christ, and your Christ-centered love for me. God has been so faithful this last year. We have grown in number. We have seen God save the lost. We have matured in godliness. We have beheld the glory of the Lord in the face of Jesus Christ together. May God continue to be glorified in the years to come and find our church faithful till Christ returns.
If you are reading this, and you are not committed to a local church—a church committed to the authority and sufficiency of the Scripture, a church that disciples you, sends you, and cares for you—you are missing out on one of God’s gracious gifts to your soul. Find a church that will help you grow in Christ and nurtures your soul. If you are in the Wilson area, we’d love to be that church for you.