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The Bridge | Leadington/Arnold, MO

  • Tim Gray
  • Aug 7, 2012
  • Series: Church Profiles
  • Categories: Church Planting Articles, Latest News

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Briefly describe your story of your call to plant a church

As I worked in learning about really discipling people in small groups and what it meant to worship God at a fast-growing Methodist church as a volunteer staff member in 2005, I felt a nudge to take what we knew and move six miles up the road to the center of St. Francois County into a city of 208 people and plant a church made up of small churches.  I will always have a special place in my heart for the pastor of that Methodist church for giving me a forum to put into practice what God was teaching me about the Bible.  I knew I had the heart for Jesus and was on a fast track developing the Biblical elder requirements, but thought that it was way too a daunting task.  All I knew was that church could happen unified around Christ, the Gospel, Scripture, and home churches.  Details other than that were very sketchy. Finally, God won and five people threw $57 in a chicken bucket, I wrote theological statements, talked some volunteer staff to join us, and The Bridge was born.  It made no sense, we had no money, building, or people, but the Holy Spirit does a lot more than talent and resources.  The burn was too strong -- God always seems to win.  Then, a couple of years in, some excited reformed cats from Acts 29 filled in a lot of the blanks, and the Lord made us very strong.

How did you build up your core? What advice would you give to guys in the core-stage?

Due to a lack of training, we made mistakes, but God in His sovereignty fixed them.  Actually, most of the core team that He put together has stuck because of powerful changes He made in people who deeply loved Jesus, but did not look much like Him yet.  Our core team had worked together for about five years before we planted, so that was a good thing.  Initially, I erroneously put a staff person in an elder-level position that had a Biblical qualification problem. This was a leadership mistake on my part that led to a lot of difficulty and pain as we attempted to work through it, and while that was very difficult, it taught us so much about Biblical due diligence. It actually led us to complementarianism and Acts 29 as we were seeking Bibilical truth.  New church planters must not install elders that are not qualified in all the areas of 1 Timothy and Titus.  We chose talent over the Bible one time, and we won't make that mistake again.

If the core is being put together in a normal time range (not previously having the years of as we did), my advice would be for people to go slow as God works very quickly.  I think church leaders make a mistake for setting time frames for when people are ready to move into the next step of leadership.  I believe that God develops some people very quickly if both the person and the team are making great strides in personal holiness by power of the Holy Spirit.  Leadership is about knowing when someone is ready to get their feet wet in the next step, and yet making sure they are Biblically qualified for that next step.  We are seeing powerful changes in men by giving them the opportunity to really LEAD as they have show themselves to be faithful and fruitful, not perfect and not completely versed in the Bible.  Leaders must teach people and model out: loving Jesus, being faithful and fruitful, and then, here are some opportunities, now run with His church, as we cling to Jesus.

What advice do you have for men who are wrestling with the decision to plant? 

When Joseph (Jesus' adoptive daddy) was introduced in Matthew, he was called a 'just' man.  A man should not plant until he figures out what that means.  And, planting churches is not about growing big churches; it is about not compromising the Gospel and sticking to the Commission.  ALL the money may not be there and ALL the people may not be there, but ALL the God better be.

What’s the most important thing you’d want to share with a new church planter?   

Church work can become idolatrous.  Planting can become your functional savior.  That being said, leading the people of God on the mission of God better drive a man's every breath if he is going to plant a church. Only men deeply in love with Jesus AND His church should do this.

How do you pastor your family in the midst of starting a church?

At times not very well.  When I am good, when I am with them, I am WITH them.  I shepherd them, but what they want more is just me.  Have gotten a lot better, but when I was bi-vocational (which is the way young planters should start), this was a serious challenge.

Outside of the Bible, what is the most helpful book you have read for church planting?

Church Planter by Darrin Patrick

thebridge

Church Profile: The Bridge
Launch Date: March 2006
Location: Leadington & Arnold, MO

Mission, Vision, Values of Church 

3 part Mission statement - Believe IT, Grow IT, Send IT.

Believe IT - the IT is the Gospel.  We want people to be brought out of darkness and into light by the life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Grow IT - the IT is accomplished through the Gospel.  As we continue to press into Jesus, He makes us look more and more like Him.

Send IT - the IT is the Gospel.  We want to help to make disciples who make disciples all over the world - from our neighborhoods to the unreached people groups.

We are Gospel-centered and missional, so we worship Jesus Christ and center all around Him as take Him to the world as we fill needs.  We a church of small churches, so we are constantly equipping folks to make disciples who make disciples by giving them the Gospel.

What are some examples of God's grace that you have seen in your life and/or the life of your church?

Nearing 200 baptisms.

Personally,  I am a sinful man that Jesus for some reason wants to gift His Holiness.  Can't stop worshiping because of it.

I see folks in situations far from God (drug addicts and probabation & parole folks and women who have been sexually abused, even very comfortable soccer moms, etc) be shown God's grace, mercy, and healing, and I can't stop worshiping because of it.

Over 1600 people in a county of 60,000 have been through our Conquering Addiction course (Steps @ The Village).  That has happened in many venues -- the church, in jails, and in prisons.  I have never seen such true grace extended and then re-extended.

How can we pray for you?

The Bridge has a new campus (The Bridge-Arnold) that has a difficult mission field, and, the church plans to start something extraordinary in the 10/40 corridor in Thailand in 2013 -- The Bridge-Bangkok. And, we would like to plant 15 more churches in the next 10 years. We obviously want prayer for such endeavors to bring God great glory.  And, we don't have enough money to do any of it, but He does, so we are proceeding.

Please pray that Acts 29, The Bridge, and the Grays keep Jesus at the center of everything.  We can do NOTHING without Him.