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Josh McGuire had just graduated from Mid-America
Baptist Theological Seminary and received an offer to serve as the Assistant
Pastor at Concord Baptist Church in Jefferson City, Missouri. The plan was for
Josh to be mentored by Concord's pastor of 20 years, Monte Shinkle. Josh and his wife, Jana, moved there with their one-month old son and began serving the church.
While there they gained much valuable experience and found a church that loved them and wanted to help them moving forward. Their time at Concord began a journey that would lead to church planting in Cleveland. Read Josh and Jana's story below.
I often talked with Monte about planting
a church. The idea was something I struggled with initially. However, God kept
working on me and as he shaped me at Concord I began to pray through where God
wanted us to plant a church. I have a friend who is a church planter in the
Akron area, Jason Boggs, and I called him to talk about what he was
experiencing as a church planter. Through all of this I still wasn't certain
that this was God's will or just myself wanting to prove something.
A few, weeks passed and Monte came into
my office and handed me an On Mission magazine. This particular magazine
outlined the different "Send North America" cities and profiled
different planters in these cities. As I read through the magazine one
particular city jumped off the page. Cleveland really grasped me. The article
about Alex Ennes and Dan Ghramm really touched at some of my core values. The
vision of planting a church that plants churches was something that I had always felt was necessary.
I have a strong conviction that we need to build missions and church planting
into the DNA of every church right from the beginning. The article made it
clear that these two church planters really understood that concept. I called
my wife and both of us agreed it was time to pursue church planting and see if
God opened any doors for us.
I didn't want to focus on just one area
so I decided to email several people involved in the different cities. I said a
simple prayer that God would place the email in front of the right people and
make it very clear where he wanted us to go. About five minutes passed and Cleveland
Associational Missionary Kevin Litchfield responded to my email and asked me to
call him. I talked with Kevin about church planting in Cleveland and he suggested that we visit
Cleveland if we got a chance and see if this was the place that God was calling
We ended up making a trip to Cleveland in
July and met with Kevin. He talked about all the different communities in
Cleveland and it was somewhat overwhelming. He had sent us a list of the
communities to pray through before we came. The two communities that God seemed
to be placing on our hearts were Ohio City and Euclid. I asked Kevin, from a
strategy standpoint, in which two areas he would most like to see a church
develop. Amazingly, his answer was Ohio City and Euclid! We left his office and went to
visit these two places to see for ourselves what God was up to in Cleveland.
Ohio City was our first stop. While there it was
clear that this was a place unlike many other places I have visited. The
culture was rich and diverse, and you just got the sense that this was a place
you could greatly impact the nations with the gospel. Euclid was second. In Euclid, we met
Jeff Calloway, NAMB Church Planting Catalyst. His first question to
me was, "what makes you think you can plant a church in Cleveland?"
My answer was something like, “I can't unless God wants me to.” Euclid is
diverse, and also brings a lot of different challenges to the table.
Jana and I had a lot to pray about. We
read our Bibles diligently. We prayed constantly for direction. We grabbed
everything I had on church planting and read it. We wanted to be certain this
was where God was calling us. Missouri felt very much like home to us and
leaving was not an easy decision. Everything felt like it was so right, but
feelings are often misleading. I wanted a clear direction from the Bible. I
wanted something I could hang my hat on.
Euclid has no SBC church presence and
overall the city of Cleveland is 5.5% evangelical Christian. I was reading in
my Bible and came across Romans 15:20-21: "My aim is to evangelize where
Christ has not been named, so that I will not build on someone else’s
foundation, but, as it is written: Those who were not told about Him will see, and
those who have not heard will understand." It was then in my quiet time
that God confirmed that Euclid was where He wanted us.
From there Jeff, Kevin, Jana, and I began
to talk about what this church would look like. We all agreed we wanted the
church to be a church that above all serves the Lord Jesus Christ, plants other
churches, is built on indigenous church planting methods, and serves the
community. We have a vision of a church that loves God and loves others. One
idea we are trying is to serve in the community twice a month as part of our
worship service on Sunday. This will help us to train our members in evangelism
and give them opportunities to evangelize together. This serves Euclid by
having a community of volunteers committed to helping the city where we can.
All the while, we will be using Bible studies to evangelize, disciple, and
start churches in various high rises, surrounding communities, and people
groups in our area.
As of December 30th Jana and I have moved
from Missouri to Euclid. We are expecting our second son next month. Life has
been somewhat of a roller coaster, but we are very excited to be here pressing
forward in Euclid for God. We have been welcomed into the city and have the
interest and support of many of the local government leaders. Pray for us, and
come to Euclid to partner with us!
Date Created: 1/18/2012 2:51:04 PM
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