The work of church planting continues in the Tennessee Valley. Even better, God is at work through his church. Church plants reach people in places that established churches have difficulty reaching. We invited our church planters to share how God is working through this chaotic year to produce real change in the hearts of people. Here are four encouraging stories from the front lines of church plants.
God is at work in Soddy Daisy.
Greg Barney is serving in Soddy Daisy to plant the Woodlands Gathering where the vision is to create a place for Native Americans and all people to encounter the good news!
“At our last outreach event (a Talking Circle), we invited people to share their hearts in a safe, and non-threatening environment. Each participant was given the opportunity to share how historical trauma has affected them. Following the event, a lady approached my wife and me and said, ‘This was such a healing experience for me. This is good and I want to know more!’ She had experienced the power of the gospel community before she knew what it was! Also, an older gentleman in the men’s group stated, ‘I have learned more about Christ and God’s word in the last six months than I have in my entire life!’”
God is at work in Highland Park.
Luke Banner is serving in the Highland Park neighborhood of Chattanooga to plant Mosaic Fellowship where God brings broken pieces together to make something beautiful.
“A few days ago I was running in my neighborhood and saw my friend Lattimore, an 80-year-old African American man whose wife of 51 years recently passed away. I stopped and said hello. He responded, ‘What’s up preacher?’ I first met Lattimore while he was on his front porch about a year ago as I walked by. He asked, ‘How you doing preacher?’ I told him I was pretty good and that we were thinking about adopting a child. ‘Why don’t y’all adopt me?’ I was stunned and told him we would adopt him if he would adopt us as well. Lattimore wasn’t joking when he said this. Those words seemed to betray him as they came out faster than he could stop them, and his loneliness was now undeniable. My heart broke when I left his house and had time to reflect. His loneliness was moving, and I was humbled by his desire for more time with me and my family. Two days later, I went by Lattimore’s house unannounced with lunch. Naturally, he was on his porch watching cars drive by. We talked about his life, career, family, the Lord, and of course, his dear wife, whom he misses dearly. I look forward to seeing my friend again soon.
God is at work in Morristown.
Chris Talley is serving Morristown planting Lakeway Presbyterian Church to make much of Jesus and plant churches that do the same.
“During the Quarantine, I was very discouraged about the inability to connect with any new folks. I was praying the Lord would give me a timely opportunity to encourage and help someone. A few days later, the Lord brought to mind a man I had only conversed with on a surface level. I sensed a real need to pick up the phone and call this man. Our conversation could not have come at a more pressing time for him. His wife had recently left him and started divorce proceedings. She had taken their children and left him for her parents. He worked in Knoxville but lived in Morristown. Their church had originally been her church. On top of this, he is an immigrant. So divorce practically left him isolated, alone, and depressed. Our initial conversation has become a friendship and I am eager to see how the Lord will continue to work in John’s life as he continues to work through the many challenges he is facing. I am grateful for the chance to point him to Christ and call him to continue following him in the midst of life’s trials.”
God is at work in Louisville.
Nate Xander is serving in Louisville, TN outside of Knoxville where they are about to particularize Christ the King as an outpost of Christ’s kingdom.
“A family came to the church leadership with a problem. They felt ashamed and hopeless like they would never be on the other side of the problem. But after sitting with them and working with them, the shepherding team devised a plan and provided encouragement and spiritual counsel. They were faithful to the plan. The team was faithful to hold them accountable and encourage them. The shepherding team not only helped deal with the practical issues and strategy but also made sure to address the matters of the heart and soul that were involved. Before they knew it, they were on the other side of the storm! They are generous people and wonderful hosts to new families in the church community. They went from needing a wound bound up, to being freed up to be a beacon of welcome and warmth in our church.”