Church Plant Focused on City Transformation In Cleveland

Josh McGuireJosh 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 us.

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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