“One of the things you should realize is that before a church plant particularizes, and even before it begins public worship, it is in a very unique season,” says Hutch Garmany, pastor of Grace Community Trenton. “When you’re planting a church, you have the ability to focus the vast majority of your time on outreach, evangelism, networking, and building relationships in the community.”
Garmany planted Grace Community Trenton in 2015 and particularized in April of 2018. In addition to being a pastor, Garmany also serves as the chairman of Tennessee Valley Presbytery’s Mission to North America (MNA) committee, leading the church planting arm of the presbytery. He sat down with us recently and talked about the particularization process and the importance of church planting.
Particularization is the process by which a church plant becomes an autonomous church with its own session and governing body. While this process is an important and necessary step in the life and growth of a church, Garmany says the focus of a church tends to shift once it becomes established. “When you establish yourself and begin a public worship service, all of a sudden you’re spending a lot of your time putting on that service and planning for that service,” says Garmany. “Before that, while you’re still planting, you can spend 80% of your time with unbelievers. That’s utterly unique. No other pastor of an established church can ever do that.”
This unique aspect is what makes church planting so necessary. “I would say the strongest reason for why we should plant churches is that a church plant can focus on reaching the lost like no one else,” says Garmany. “Outreach is not just something that should be a part of your church plant, it’s your lifeblood. If you’re not doing outreach, you’re dead. Because of that, church planting has this unique DNA that makes it missional. Church plants, far and away, are more effective at reaching the lost than an established church.”
For Grace Community Trenton, the process of going from plant to particularized church was a joyous yet daunting task. Hutch and his wife Ashleigh felt strongly that God was calling them to plant a church in a rural, blue-collar community. However, as soon as they moved to Trenton, it became clear that finding a space to worship, or even live, would be a struggle. Garmany says, “we tried to buy a few houses but they all fell through during inspection so we had to move into the government-subsidized apartments here in Trenton for a year. That ended up being incredible for ministry because the apartments were filled with people who did not know the Lord. There were a lot of single moms, children, and unchurched people. Living there, in that community, helped us reach so many unbelievers.”
In addition to reaching unbelievers, church plants should seek the renewal of cities, communities, and neighborhoods. “We believe a healthy church is seeking renewal in its community,” says Garmany. “At Grace Community Trenton, it is very important to us that we exist, not for the good of our church, but for the good of the community. We’re focused on Dade County as a whole. We want to see people rise up out of poverty. We want to see businesses flourish and grow. We want to see the schools here become places where children are really growing and flourishing and rising up and building a strong future for the community.”
Through God’s grace, Grace Community Trenton is made up of a congregation of people who are committed to its mission. When asked how we could pray for his church, Garmany said, “pray that we as a church would be deeply enjoying Jesus. ‘Enjoying’ is another word for ‘worship.’ That’s the engine. Worship is the engine of mission.”