Riverside Community Church
- James Walden
- Jul 2, 2010
- Series: Church Profiles
- Categories: Church Planting Articles
Briefly describe your story of your call to plant a church
Soon after I sensed a call to full-time pastoral ministry, I felt inclined toward planting in particular. This is in part because of the church I was discipled in during college (Gainesville, FL) had a strong planting legacy, and because of the vision for discipleship I caught there. I just knew I wanted to be part of a network of churches multiplying healthy churches that aggressively made disciples and built them up to full maturity. After seminary, I returned to that same church for an internship, came on staff a year later and served there for 5 years. The whole time there was immensely positive and encouraging; but my interest in planting another church only increased, and Stacy and I pursued a number of planting/replanting situations, but never felt solid on it. Then, in late 2006, a sister Free Church in Columbia invited us to come participate in a downtown plant. We moved to Columbia, and began immediately working on the plant. The church then changed direction (and denominations), but we felt compelled to continue the work that had begun.
How did you build up your core? What advice would you give to guys in the core-stage?
Our core team was developed within a (then) sister Evangelical Free Church in the area, and then grew through relationships with others. Ours was a unique situation, so I don't feel confident to offer advice to other guys looking to build a core team, especially from scratch. One thing that's been important for me is seeing the necessity of pastoring, discipling and encouraging the individuals in your core. Ministry, in other words, begins day one.
What were the biggest challenges you faced in planting your church (and/or currently facing)?
Moving people from being ‘pew-sitters’ and professionals expecting professional church to missionaries and self-sacrificial servants.
How did you become involved with Acts 29? What have been the biggest benefits of being in the network?
It began with Resurgence materials, then connecting with friends and other planters who were pursuing affiliation with A29. I then met with some of the A29 planters in my region (Jeremy Carr in Augusta, Kurt Hannah in Asheville, and Shawn Maze in Charleston), and really appreciated their encouragement, philosophies, and approaches to ministry. I then decided to pursue membership prayerfully, and as I did felt continual affirmation. The biggest benefit, I think, is being in a network of encouraging guys with remarkably similar philosophies of ministries and theological commitments.
What advice do you have for men who are wrestling with the decision to plant?
Seek affirmation from other, experienced men who share your fundamental theological and philosophical convictions, together with your wife, and local church family. If you don't have a track record in ministry, get one. Begin serving in your church family now, and make disciples. Then wait upon the Lord to guide you.
How do you pastor your family?
Leading my wife as a team member in ministry, together as a family. We pray together regularly, and have an evening set aside to discuss Scripture and spend concerted time in prayer. We pastor our children together through prayer, Scripture-reading, and, currently, memorizing the Children’s Catechism.
Outside of the Bible, what is the most helpful book you have read for church planting?
"Planting New in a Postmodern Age," Ed Stetzer
How can we pray for you?
We need to continue to develop our core team, spiritually, to be an army of generous missionaries, and numerically, as we seek to build a solid base. We also are looking for an alternative location to meet, so we can worship together Sunday mornings.
Mission, Vision, Values of Church
The purpose of the Church is to display the excellence of God by proclaiming and living out the good news of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.
In seeking to do this, our aim is to be a downtown church making and molding followers of Jesus who love God, love each other and love the city of Columbia.
We are a community of sinners saved by grace, thriving in relationship with each other and with our God, and sharing that grace with our city.
We see God’s revelation as the way we encounter the living Lord, know Him personally, and experience continual transformation through His Spirit.
•We value faithful preaching and in-depth study of Scripture
•We value evangelism as the only means of new birth
•We value nature as God’s revelation and gift
•We value men, women and children as images of God
•We value culture, science and the arts as avenues of truth, beauty and goodness
We desire community formed by the truth of the gospel, where we experience grace, and share it with others.
•We value grace, authenticity, depth and interdependence in community
•We value corporate worship and prayer that springs from God’s work in our lives
•We value the plurality of elders and godly leadership
•We value the gifts of service each member in the body of Christ has been given
•We value partnering with other churches in Columbia and beyond
We want our community to join Jesus’ mission to recover the lost, build the church, and serve our neighbors in Columbia, and beyond.
•We value our neighborhoods, our city, and our region
•We value mercy ministry and social justice
•We value personal and relational evangelism
•We value leadership development locally and abroad
•We value church-planting regionally, nationally and internationally
What is your philosophy of community in your church and what does that look like practically in your church? Of evangelism?
I affirm the philosophy (more or less) found in "Total Church," in which the manifestation of the gospel in regenerate lives is the church, i.e., gospel community, lived in regular relationships in which vulnerability grows, wisdom is shared, and new friendships are forged on mission. For us, this looks like three small groups that are growing and serving together.
What are some examples of God's grace that you have seen in your life and/or the life of your church?
God has provided for all of our needs
God has blessed our marriage, and enabled me to be a more faithful pastor to my family
God has blessed our church community with remarkable comradary and unity.
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