Posted in: Meet a Church Planter
Meet a Church Planter | John Rowell
Call to Plant
I had been a church planter in Atlanta before having started Northside Community Church (an EFCA church) in 1984. I pastored Northside for twenty years and left the senior pastor role to lead our mission ministry. I eventually became the executive pastor at the Atlanta Vineyard. My youngest son, James (29), was working with me on the staff of the Atlanta Vineyard where he served as the youth pastor. This is a congregation with a rich church planting history. When the Vineyard trustees asked me to consider leading a new church plant, I felt God's calling to pioneer a new work again here in the Atlanta area. When James decided God would have him join in the effort, we were all the more certain of God's clear direction. So I am the lead pastor at Generations but we share the pastoral duties, including the preaching ministry. James is half my age so we are drawing from a wide age spectrum as the church grows.
Involvement in Acts 29
Actually my son, James, introduced me to Acts 29. I was obviously the more experienced church planter between the two of us so I took the lead pastor role. We don't, however, distinguish our roles in terms of "senior verses associate" pastor titles. When asked about that, we simply say we are father and son and we are not confused about which of us is oldest and more experienced. I have also made it clear that, as the Lord leads, I must decrease and James must increase so that the church will have appropriate leadership as I grow older.
This leads easily into sharing one of the greatest blessings that we have received form our association with Acts 29. In every conference we have attended over the past year, emphasis has been consistently given to the priority we should maintain for keeping our marriages in a healthy place. During our assessment, the only condition placed on Ginger and me as candidates for the network was that I develop a protocol for how Ginger and I would interact with James and Betsy so that our family relationships would be adequately protected as James and I share pastoral ministry together. This high value for family relationships is characteristic of the Acts 29 Network and that priority was only magnified appropriately in our case as we also have father/son and mother/daughter relationships in the mix of ministry demands. We also greatly appreciate the doctrinal clarity that the Network offers to us and those who have joined us in this church plant!
In the past I had the blessing of leading a mission effort in Bosnia before, during and after the war that lasted form 1992-1996. Seeing churches planted, a bible school established, a drug rehab center started, several generations of pastoral leaders produced and a denomination well established was an amazing experience that spanned twenty years of ministry. In our current effort, being commissioned by the Atlanta Vineyard and funded for eight full months to start a church that will not be a Vineyard Movement congregation was an amazing grace! To have the joy late in my career of pastoring in a church plant with one of my four sons is icing on the cake and a great grace from God!
Please pray for God to bless our efforts to reach unchurced and unevangelized people in Norcross, for James and me to be effective in training leaders who will soon become the first elders at Generations and for our October outreach in Haiti.