By Lynn McLaurin
From July/August 2007 Messenger Publication
What are your thoughts on church planting? That was one of the questions in my study course as I prepared for ordination into the PFWB conference back in 2001. Well, to be totally honest, at that time, I considered planting churches a waste of time. My answer was that if we would get busy and work on filling up the churches we have already, then we would have accomplished the job.
Do you know that God can change your mind? In July, 2002, I received ordination as a pastor into the PFWB conference. A member of Oak Grove PFWB Church in Stedman, NC, since 1992, I felt led to continue my service for the Lord there as youth pastor.
In October, 2003, I began to feel God tugging at my heart. I didn’t understand what was going on, but I knew God was stirring my heart. God was blessing the youth ministry I was leading. I didn’t want to leave, but I knew it was God’s will. My thought was God wants me to seek an existing church to pastor. Little did I know that God was getting ready to change my mind.
One night late in October 2003, I had a dream about a building on Highway 13 near Wade. When I woke up, I could not get what I had dreamed out of my mind. Leaving my shop that morning, I could not keep myself from going by the South River Community Building that night. (It was the place I saw in my dreams). When I arrived, what I saw shocked me. Satanic graffiti was painted on the outside walls of the cinder block building, the roof was in total disrepair, the boards were rotten and vines were growing inside the building as well as outside. here was no heat or air conditioning. What a mess!
“God, are you sure this is the place? “was my first thought. Yet, on my way into Fayetteville, my heart burned inside. I knew the man who was in charge of the building, so I drove straight to his place of business. I walked into his garage and asked him if we could get the building to begin a new church. We promised to remodel the building at no charge to him if he would allow us to have it for five years rent free. When I said we would remodel the building, I meant God and me. He agreed. On November 4, 2003, I stood before one of the greatest challenges of my life.
My daughter Ashley, Scott Blackman, and I began cleaning up and getting ready to make the repairs. I didn’t know where the money would come from; but I knew if this church planting was God’s will, then He would provide. Within one week of beginning, an unknown donor gave $1,000.00. We took that money. Just as soon as we completed an area or ran out of materials, someone else would donate more.
As our efforts continued, interest began to grow in the community and people began to notice. Some questioned, “What are you doing starting a church here, right beside another church that has been here over 100 years?” Some said, “here’s no one here in this community to attend church.”
As it is in beginning any new work for God, there are those who will scoff and make fun, but I knew God was in the midst of what we were doing. Planting a new church is a huge undertaking. Unless God has laid it on someone’s heart, don’t begin. Not everyone will support you, but God will never leave you, if He has called you to do something for Him. He will provide what is needed. In the midst of discouragement, God always brings encouragement.
People I had known since childhood, who would normally never set foot in church, began to tell me, “When you open the church, let me know. I want to come.” From November, 2003, until August, 2004, we worked day and night on the building. On August 16, 2004, we had out initial service with an attendance of forty plus.
I could write a book on all the things that God has done in this small 2,700 foot cinder block building and the community surrounding it. Souls have been saved, thirty plus baptized, and every week there is a testimony of God’s healing someone. We have been truly blessed and favored by God. He has done what I could never do. In less than three years time, God has given us nineteen acres of land on Highway 13, one mile from our current location. He has sent workers to ill every need of the church.
Our motto is “No Suit, No Shoes, No Problem.” Some dress up, some come in work clothes, and some come in shorts, but they continue to come. Most Sunday’s I, myself, wear a suit, but I have yet to see a picture of Jesus wearing one. I am more concerned with how the heart is dressed than how the outside body is dressed. We seek to minister to whom Jesus ministered. He met them in whatever condition they were regardless of race, social status, past, or present circumstances. hat is just what we seek to do. he doors of this church are open to all those who will come.
At present, we are in the process of building a 13,000 square-foot church which will hold approximately 400 people. We are now averaging eighty plus in attendance, and we are running out of room to seat them. Our estimated cost is over one-half million dollars. We have already raised $234,000. We intend to open the doors debt free. God will continue to provide the rest. Most of our funds have come from people outside the church. In addition, we continue to reach out to those in need in our community, regardless of whether they attend church or not. his past Christmas, we were able to help twenty-two families.
Our onsite plans include an athletic field with an amphitheater, camping retreat with a large pond, a nature area, community garden and orchard area, a skateboard park and playground with basketball and volleyball courts. Who knows maybe one day a Christian school? At the present time, there is no church-sponsored school east of the Cape Fear River in Cumberland County.
The book of Acts does reveal that God loves to plant churches. We offer special thanks to Dock Hobbs, Reynolds Smith, David Taylor, Joe Dabbs, J. P. Morris, Lori Fowler, and all the other churches and people who have supported this ministry. I encourage you as a denomination to support church planting and the pastors who undertake this challenging ministry. Your time and gifts mean so much.
For those considering planting a church, don’t let a door of opportunity pass you by. But be sure that God is the one opening the door. his article is written by someone who said, “I could never plant a church.” Be careful what you say you will or will not do. God can, and may, change your mind. To God be the glory!
Visit the South River Community Church webpage for more info on this church plant…