Guest Post by Brian M.
The name “church planting” is a misnomer; nobody plants a church. It’s not as if you go to the nearest garden center, pick out a small yet somewhat mature plant, then take it home and put it in the ground. No, getting a church to the point of flourishing—even existing—takes far more work.
Perhaps a more appropriate name would be “church birthing” (though that would likely limit who’d want to be involved). “Birthing” communicates something of all the hard work that’s involved, including the pain. It also communicates something about the joy and the relationships that come with it. As we seek to start a church in Columbus Grove, it’s truly a labor of love.
Birthing a church in Grove was really the idea of multiple people. Back in 2016, when I first met Sam Andres, he shared his passion with me for international missions as well as church planting. Even then, he told me King’s Cross was already praying about one day planting a church in Putnam County. Since our family was living in Grove at the time, his comment caught my attention. But I filed it in the back of my mind because we were moving to Minneapolis.
Fast forward to December 2021. I was now living back in Putnam County, and a pastor from Indiana recommended I connect with Kerry Wright. So, early one morning, we got together for breakfast, and Kerry asked me, “Have you thought about starting a church?” Initially, my answer was, “No.”
About a week later, the question came again. This time, it was from my cousin who pastors in Texas. He was in Grove visiting family for Christmas, and we got together one morning to catch up. Eventually, the conversation turned to church planting. More specifically, to the possibility of starting a church in Grove and meeting at the former Presbyterian church building in town.
As they say, the rest is history. In January of 2023, my wife, Kami, and I began meeting for prayer every Sunday evening with Kerry and Krista W. What started with the prayers of King’s Cross for a church to be planted in Putnam County began to come to life, if only in seed form. Within a few months, Ben and Evania M. joined our small group, and we became the core team of Emmanuel Church.
Along the way, we’ve worked closely with King’s Cross. Their elders decided to approve our unorthodox approach (without a single lead pastor) and agreed to plant in Grove (as opposed to a town closer to Defiance). They’ve also invested in our core team through joining our prayer meetings and providing us with elder training.
Meanwhile, others have stepped in with support. The FEC and Synergy Network have provided training and resources. Meanwhile, St John Bible Church in nearby Pandora has given financially, prayed faithfully, and encouraged some of their members to join us. In fact, when our core team approached St John’s leadership about our plans, we found out they’d recently begun praying for new outreach opportunities in Putnam County. God was clearly at work.
Over the last eight months, the Lord has been faithful every step of the way. He’s added individuals and families to our team. Some are being sent from St John and King’s Cross. Others have somehow found out about Emmanuel and want to join—even people who’ve just moved into the community. By God’s grace, we’re already growing in our love for one another.
The Lord has also graciously, if not miraculously, provided a place to meet. This month, Emmanuel Church will acquire Turner Hall, the former Presbyterian church building in Grove, from the village. We’ve already begun work on the building to have it ready for our official launch in early 2024.
For now, we’re kicking off the fall with training for our launch team, focusing primarily on prayer and evangelism. It’s our desire for this church that was birthed in prayer to continue to grow through that same dependence on God. Specifically, we’re asking the Spirit to fill us as we seek to be faithful witnesses in this community, that Christ will be exalted and lives transformed to the glory of God.