Harvest Church, Part II: God Plants the Seed
“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” Philippians 1:5
Brothers and sisters of Imago Dei,
Thank you so much for your prayer and support for Harvest Church. We would like to give you a brief update on our church planting journey.
Back in July we were commissioned and sent out from you guys as the core team to plant Harvest Church (how special was that!). God had just opened the doors in a miraculous way for the plant in Cary, and this summer we got to see Him be no less active in uniting and preparing us for the mission.
We met for the last couple months on Sunday evenings to share a meal, have an informal worship service, and to have relevant teaching/training in regard to the plant. Largely speaking, this was the season dedicated to forming the DNA of Harvest Church. We traveled together through Ephesians, gazing at the awesome grace of God in saving us in Christ, forming us as a people in Christ, and sending us on His mission for the glory of Christ. We caught God’s heartbeat for His church in general, and also dove deeply into what we felt God has called Harvest Church to specifically—how we are to function in practice within our overall philosophy of community and mission centralized on the gospel.
Because we had two very different groups trying to unite for the church plant (the young crew from Imago and the older crew from North Cary), we were a bit unsure how things were going to go. But of course, if God can unite Jew and Gentile, He can also take this motley group and unite us. And that He did! This has been one of the sweetest, unexpected blessings of the plant. These older folks have become dads and moms, and granddads and grandmoms to us. And we have become their sons and daughters and grandchildren. Truly awesome! We feel united in such a way at this point that it defies explanation apart from God’s handiwork.
A third component to the summer, in addition to the teaching and relational aspects, was getting the property ready for launch. While we have been blown away with the provision of a facility, we also believed there was a need for a major renovation and general update. This involved a massive clean and purge, the knocking out of walls, new paint everywhere, some new flooring, and a completely revamped sanctuary. We have been especially blessed with the generous donations of time and money from many folks to help with the cause—and it has paid off! We could not be any more pleased!
That would also express our sentiment toward God for the whole summer season of preparing to plant. God has shown us again and again just how faithful and good He is as He continues to work and build his church in spite of our weakness.
On November 9, 2014 the seed of Harvest Church officially went into the ground. Glory to God! It was a wonderful day. Many of you were able to join us, making it extra special! Several folks came up from Georgia, as well as family and friends from around the Raleigh/Cary area. We had over a hundred hearts with us in worship! It was simply a beautiful and glorious morning! This was also our time of covenant signing for the core team. With the witness of those present, all 25 of us signed together to covenant as the first members of Harvest Church.
We eagerly anticipate all that God has in store for us. We thank you for setting such a worthy example for us to imitate. How often have we thought, “Hmmm, what would Imago Dei do?” WWID. Just kidding, but seriously. Your love for Jesus, His people, and His mission is deep in our souls. It has shaped us, and is now influencing all that we do for Christ through Harvest Church.
If you could, please continue to pray for us. We realize that the most fragile time in the life of any plant is when its just coming out of the ground, not to mention the fact that we have a real enemy bent on our destruction. We trust God is sovereign, but He has also sovereignly united Himself with the prayers of His people.
So if you would, please pray for us in these specific ways:
- God’s glory and His will above all things
- Jesus to be the Hero of everything
- The presence of the Holy Spirit (for individuals and in corporate gatherings)
- Our community groups and their leaders (for existing ones and for new ones to be formed)
- Wisdom in shepherding folks with illnesses and disabilities
- God to send someone to help lead us in musical worship
- Direction for local and international missions (places and people to pour into long term)
We thank you so much! And look forward to continued partnership in the gospel! We love you!
For more information, or if you would like to support us financially, please visit our website at www.harvestchurchcary.com. Also, feel free to email Matthew (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Drew (email@example.com).
Equip Fall 2014 blog:
Greetings Imago Dei Church! We’re excited to announce that we are about to begin our third year of our Equip training program. Equip is a discipleship training time that allows the Elders to get to know and begin equipping future leaders for roles that will take the gospel all over the world, and also to identify future Aspire interns. We will be developing a two-year curriculum with content including The Gospel, The Church, Missions, and Ethics—hitting on all of them each semester.
Equip typically meets four times over the course of a semester on Saturday mornings at a new time, from 8:15am-9:45am. Through this program, the church seeks to equip and train any aspiring church planters, pastors, missionaries (anyone involved in Going), growth group leaders, church planting teams, or anyone wanting futher equipping.
This fall, Equip will hold its first meeting on September 13th at the new 8:15-9:45 time slot at the IDC Building. Typically, we watch/listen to a sermon, or read an article, and interact with Scripture on our own time and then having come prepared, discuss the content with teaching and/or small groups.
For our September 13th meeting we will discuss:
The Gospel – Gospel Appropriation
Tim Keller, audio sermon: “Preaching the Gospel” (40 min.) http://theresurgence.com/2006/07/11/preaching-the-gospel
John Piper, audio clip: “The Morning I Heard the Voice of God” (11 min.)
Scripture: Galatians 2:11-14; 3:13
Here a few questions that will help you add to any discussion or your own growth:
• Give a brief summary of the content.
• Agreements? Disagreements?
• Why would IDC leadership want us to learn this?
• What are some implications for your future ministry (whatever context God has you in)?
• What will this look like in the life of the church (particularly IDC)?
Here are the tentative dates for this fall’s Equip meetings
• September 13th
• October 18th
• November 8th
• November 22nd
Covenant members and prospective members—be on the lookout for the content of each meeting. We will likely make it available through multiple channels, including a link on the website. If you are unsure about it, email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you may have. Also, childcare will be provided upon request (at least a week in advance by emailing email@example.com) for children under age10. We look forward to growing alongside you. Grace and peace.
5 Networks. 5 People. 5 Tasks.
“Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch” (Lk 5:4)
This week we’re starting a series of sermons on reaching our city with the Gospel of Jesus, through network evangelism. The goal of the series is to encourage, equip, and inspire you to be more faithful at spreading the good news. Please know that we don’t intend to guilt trip you each week into doing something you hate doing. This series is actually designed to help you get started, taking small steps, in this important endeavor. We simply want to do more in this area than we are currently doing, and we think we have a biblical and faithful strategy for improvement. Further, we just don’t want this to be a series of sermons. The aim is to create a mindset, or a way of life, that helps you live with gospel intentionality.
(Our normal preaching pattern is to work through books of the Bible every Sunday, but the elders believe that this short series is very needed for our congregation at this time. Also realize that we will be expounding a text every week in the 555 series, just not from one book alone…. Starting in January, the plan is to go verse by verse through the book of Acts. We’re prepared to spend a year or more studying this book, and we’re eager to do it).
Typical approaches to evangelism in the past have either involved crusade evangelism, or cold-call evangelism (door-to-door visitation). While not depreciating these strategies, we believe that an approach that takes into account those in our networks has real potential for effectiveness, and also has a historical legacy behind it. For the early church grew, in large measure, through a web of relationships.
In Tim Keller’s Church Planting Manual, he recommends this approach and says the following:
There must be an atmosphere of expectation that every member will always have 2 to 4 people in the incubator, a force-field in which people are being prayed for, given literature, brought to church or other events.
We have added to Keller’s idea just a bit, and tried to think of five particular networks. Think about 2-5 people in each network. Think about praying, giving literature, inviting, serving, and actually speaking the gospel.
By giving you some tangible ways to interact with those in your network, we think everyone can be involved. You can at least pray for those in your networks. Surely, you can give a book or a Bible to someone in your networks. Perhaps you can give an invitor card to someone in your network, right? Hopefully, you can do all of this in the normal rhythm of your life. One may not have to necessarily add a new activity to an already busy schedule. This is a challenge to simply identify the people you see and know, and to live with gospel intentionality among them everyday.
So again, here’s the plan: 5 Networks. 5 people in those networks (as a goal). 5 tasks.
1. Familial Network: Family you have
2. Vocational Network: People you work with
3. Commercial Network: Businesses you frequent
4. Geographical Network: Neighbors you see
5. Relational Network: Friends you make (not necessarily neighbors). These can be cultivated through recreation or missional endeavors.
(Note: Not everyone will have the same amount of people in the networks. That’s fine. Think about identifying more people in the other networks).
1. Pray for Them
2. Serve Them
3. Give Gospel-Centered Literature to Them
4. Invite Them
5. Speak the Gospel to Them
Below is our tentative sermon schedule. (Some of these texts are very tentative at this point). After the first sermon, we will spend two weeks on each of the 5 tasks.
1. Let Down Your Nets (Luke 5:1-11) [Sept 14] 2. Task #1: Pray for Them …. That They May Be Saved (Rom 9:1-3; 10:1-21) [Sept 21] 3. Task #1: Pray for Them … Because God Answers Prayer (James 5:16-18; 1 Kings 18:36-40) [Sept 28] 4. Task #2: Serve Them … With the Father’s Mercy (Luke 6:27-36) [Oct 5] 5. Task #2: Serve Them …. With Genuine Neighbor Love (Luke 10:25-37) [Oct 12] 6. Task #3: Give Gospel-Centered Literature to Them … Because Truth Matters (Col 2:6-23) [Oct 19] 7. Task #3: Give Gospel Centered Literature to Them …. As You Contend for the Faith (Jude 1:1-4) [Oct 26] 8. Task #4: Invite Them … To Your Parties and to Jesus’ Party (Luke 14:12-24 Part 1) [Nov 2] 9. Task #4: Invite Them … To Your Parties and to Jesus’ Party (Luke 14:12-24 Part 2) [Nov 9] 10. Task #5: Speak the Gospel to Them … Following the Pattern of Jesus (John 4) [Nov 16] 11. Task #5: Speak the Gospel to Them … As Christ’s Ambassador (2 Cor 5:11-21) [Nov 23]
As an added feature, our goal is to have a testimony each week, who is living out this vision in practical and encouraging ways. We will also be having a special time of prayer on the weekend of Sept 26-27. But please begin praying now. May the Lord add to our number daily those who are being saved (Acts 2:47).
What: IDC’s 3rd Year Anniversary! We will be having one corporate worship service on the lake at 10am on Sunday, September 7th. Baptisms in the lake will follow (please contact Pastor Nate @ firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in baptism). Then we will celebrate in fine IDC style with a pig pickin’ (pig provided by IDC and cooked by our Grill Master Jay Humphrey), food, games, swimming, etc.
Who: all IDC members, regular attenders, first time visitors, guests, – invite anyone!
When: Sunday, September 7th @ 10am. Please try to arrive early (by 9:30am) so you’ll have time to park and get to the beach area.
What to Bring: Please bring your assigned food item (contact your growth group leader for more details). There is a parking fee of $6 per car so plan to carpool. Only first-time guests, visitors, and those unable to pay will be covered by IDC (inform the worker at the gate you are with IDC if you fall into one of those categories). Please bring blankets, lawn chairs, games, Frisbees, Kan-Jam, etc. Also, there is a lake to swim in and a bath house for changing, so plan accordingly!
Where: Falls Lake State Park, Beaverdam Recreation Area. Note that the entrance to the Beaverdam Recreation Area is on Hwy 50 (Creedmoor Road), 3 miles north of Hwy 98. Coordinates are: 36° 2’6.67??N, 78°41’6.36??W. It should be the third entrance of Falls Lake State Park on Hwy 50 (look for IDC flags!)
We plan to use the shelter down near the lake, Shelter 20. Please plan to drop your food off at Shelter 20 before heading to the lake for worship! In the event we cannot use Shelter 20 (it is first come, first served), we will be using Shelter 21 for food drop-off.
Visit http://www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/fala/directions.php to see maps & directions.
- How are your devotions?
- What’s been the most impactful thing in our current sermon series?
- In your own words, what is the gospel?
- Is there a specific sin that you need my help defeating?
- Are you more aware of my encouragement or my criticism?
- What is Daddy (Mommy) most passionate about?
- Do I act the same at worship on Sunday as I do at home all week long?
- Are you aware of my love for you?
- Is there a way I’ve sinned against you that I have not repented of?
- How am I doing as a dad (mom)?
- Does my relationship with Mom (Dad) make you excited about being married?
Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse,
and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury.
Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you;
reprove a wise man, and he will love you.
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;
teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
For by me your days will be multiplied,
and years will be added to your life.
If you are wise, you are wise for yourself;
if you scoff, you alone will bear it.
In light of Proverbs 9:7-12, here are some helpful diagnostic questions for assessing if we are on the path of wisdom when responding to correction:
• Which most accurately describes you, love for the rebuke or hatred?
• How do you respond to correction/confrontation? Love or Anger? Is he a friend or an enemy to you?
• Do you listen to it and seek truth in it or get defensive and immediately have a comeback (5 things wrong in the other person)?
• When are corrected do you put out hints that this won’t happen again?
• Do you seem receptive on the outside, but on the inside you are murdering that person?
• Do you automatically think when someone corrects you they are judgmental?
• Do you immediately justify behavior or thoughts when corrected?
• Is there anything in your life that is off limits for people to touch when it comes to correction? (How would you feel if a GG leader or pastor reproving parts of your parenting? Spending? Laziness? Dress? Etc)
• Do you have relationship with anyone that has the freedom to say tough things to you?
• Does anyone in your life have permission to rebuke you?
• Do you love doing the rebuking but hate being rebuked?
• Does this keep you from being in a Growth Group?
• Do you have a false community around you? (Do you surround yourself with people who will never disagree with you? Do you only seek counsel from people who will never disagree with you?)
• Who in this church will you ask to be honest with you and correct you when needed?
• When asked by someone to correct them, will you have the courage to do so or will you let this text further make you a coward?
Resource: As we seek to let the gospel form us into wise people who can receive correction – here is an extremely helpful article on the gospel and correction by Alfred Poirer, “The Cross and Criticism.”
Written by Matthew Poole
One of the most beautiful words ever uttered is the Greek word tetelestai (three words if you’re translating into English). It means this, “It is finished.” These are the words our King Jesus said while He hung on that blessed tree in our place, bearing the full weight of our condemnation. In those words He affirms the reason for which He came—to die . . . to ransom a people for His own possession, to purify a people who would be zealous for good works.
The mission of God cannot fail . . . because Christ has accomplished the mission.
And we know that’s not the end of the story for Jesus. God raised Him from the dead, vindicated Him, and exalted Him above every name that can be named. And then, as Ephesians 1:22 says, “[God] put all things under His feet [under Jesus’ feet] and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”
The mission of God cannot fail . . . because Christ is the sovereign ruler over all.
And listen to what Paul says in the very next chapter, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them”(Ephesians 2:10).
The mission of God cannot fail . . . because God has ordained good works for us to walk in.
That’s a pretty good combination of truths. Christ has accomplished the mission. Christ is sovereign over the mission. Christ has prepared the mission for us.
If you have been around Imago Dei recently you have likely heard about their mission to plant Harvest Church in the Cary area. What may be unclear though is the story of how the Harvest Church plant became a reality. We want to take this moment to briefly share that story, highlighting God’s sovereign activity in “preparing this good work.” We hope this story updates you on Harvest Church and encourages you in faithful service to the King.
Back in March we had our church plant town hall meeting. At that time, Drew and I had just committed to planting together and although we had a general desire to be in Raleigh, we had no idea exactly where or what this might look like or who might be involved. Then, in the matter of literally just a couple weeks, all of this significantly took shape. God was preparing to flex his muscles and show off His sovereign skills.
We had located a region of interest just between Raleigh and Cary, and were beginning to really lift up our prayers in this matter. As it turns out, while Drew was praying over the spot on his computer map, in came a most providential email. This email, from a Southeastern contact, relayed that North Cary Baptist Church was a dying church looking for a new direction. When he looked up the church address . . . the location pin fell directly in the center of the region we had marked out.
Okay, God? I guess we’ll follow up on this one.
After some initial conversation with North Cary, things progressed rapidly. Drew and I met with the leaders of the church, making our vision clear that we were wanting to plant a new church in the area. We were not sure at all how this might go, but we were absolutely blown away with their response. Basically, they said they thought we were God’s answer to their prayer.
One of the highlights which we will never forget is when a few of their key leaders said, “We are tired of leading; it’s time for us to serve.”
But it wasn’t just a matter of their hearts being willing to serve under new leadership. We wanted to start a new church from scratch. That means we wanted to do all things new—new bylaws, new membership, new covenant agreement, new church structure, new everything. Again, we were unsure how this next step was going to go, but they were fully on board!! We have been amazed with their humility before God and their desire to sacrifice for the mission. Sure, let’s get rid of everything we have and turn it over to a couple young pastors who we just met a couple weeks ago. They also have over six acres of land, a wonderful sanctuary, a fellowship hall, and a classroom/kids/administrative building.
On May 4, less than 2 months after we first heard of this opportunity, North Cary Baptist Church voted unanimously to dissolve and become Harvest Church.
Drew and I have been filling the pulpit in North Cary the last few months. That is why you have not seen us around IDC much. We have been taking them through a sermon series on the nine marks of a healthy church. And although much of what we have covered is new to them (plurality of elders, church discipline, membership covenant), they are eager to learn and to put everything into practice. Even in restructuring the church away from a Sunday morning emphasis toward an emphasis on community and relationship (small groups), they have received it with great joy. In fact, they told us that this new church model is what they have been trying to get to for so long but have not known how to achieve it.
On the same night the vote took place we also had an informational meeting with people from Imago Dei who had expressed interest in the church plant. From this group, we now have 16 Imago Dei members who are committed to being a part of our core team in the plant. We could not be any more thrilled with this group of people that God has called out to help fulfill the mission in Cary. Over the last couple months we have had some team building get-togethers, and we are constantly learning about how awesome each of these members are (Imago Dei is really sending out some all-stars!). Just to give you an idea of how committed these folks are, half of them have already picked up and moved to Cary!
The only way to explain all these many factors involved in the merging of Imago Dei and North Cary is to attribute it to a sovereign God who orchestrates His people to fulfill His mission. Praise God!
That brings us to the present day. This coming weekend the Imago Dei elders will ordain Drew and I and then, the following day, during the worship service, our entire Harvest Church core team (those from Cary and those from IDC) will be commissioned.
I hope the story of Harvest Church (thus far) has encouraged you. By no means am I implying that God always prepares good works for us in this manner—surely not. Probably most good works in this life will feel more like a cross than a cruise. But the point to remember, though, is that the mission cannot fail. Christ has accomplished the mission for us and He now reigns on the throne enforcing the victory through His people.
If you would like to know more information about Harvest Church, please visit our in-construction website at http://harvestchurchcary.com/
Or feel free to contact one of us, Matthew (email@example.com) or Drew (firstname.lastname@example.org)
If you would like to support Harvest Church financially, you can give to Imago Dei by earmarking your designation, or you can give directly to Harvest Church by sending a check payable to:
505 Reedy Creek Rd.
Cary, NC 27513
If you would like to support Harvest Church through prayer, please pray that we would be faithful to fulfill the great commission by making disciples of Christ locally and globally.
Thank you IDC family! We love you!
For the harvest,
Matthew and Drew (future elders of Harvest Church)
Next week Nate and I (Tony) will be attending the Acts 29 Lead Pastors Retreat in Miami. If the assessment process goes positively, Imago Dei Church will officially be part of the Acts 29 Network (http://www.acts29network.org/). Our good friend Steve Timmis is the Executive Director of A29, and the President is Matt Chandler. We hold both men in the highest regard. We love the new trajectory of A29, including their commitment to plant churches internationally, as well as domestically.
In addition to this network, the elders also agreed to be part of the Redeemer City to City Network for three years (http://www.redeemercitytocity.com/). We will receive training, and will also support at least one global church plant in one of sixty-five cities, led by a planter that has been through the City to City network. We will share more about the church that we will support later. Regarding the training piece, the staff elders will enjoy personalized instruction from Tim Keller regarding church planting and missiology over the next two years. We are excited about what we might learn, as we seek to mobilize the large number of missionaries/church planters that we have at IDC.
While IDC will continue to gladly be part of the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board of the SBC, we are excited about working with these two conservative evangelical networks. We anticipate being part of A29 for the foreseeable future, while the City to City network is only a three year commitment initially.
Since A29 is the long-term commitment, then allow us to answer this question, “Why join A29?” Here are a few reasons. First, theologically, we treasure the gospel-centered focus in A29. Second, personally, we love the leaders and pastors in A29. When we started IDC, a handful of churches supported us, including A29 churches like Summit and Vintage (here in RDU). Some of the IDC elders have close relationships with many of the pastors in A29, and we feel that we identify with them, and want to be associated with them formally. Third, we love the evangelistic passion in A29 (which we hope rubs off on us). Fourth, we share their passion to see diversity in local churches. Fifth, the elders believe that “churches plant churches” not organizations, boards, or seminaries. The mission statement of A29 is “churches planting churches.” We embrace this ecclesiology. A29 exists in part to help churches like us, plant other churches by resourcing, equipping, supporting, etc.
Finally, we need another network practically. We have a ton of people being sent out of IDC and we want them to have some options for fulfilling their calling. While the majority of our folks will probably go through the SBC organizations, we know that some won’t. In fact, some continue to face challenges as they work through the process – both domestically and internationally. At times this has been very frustrating, especially when it comes from philosophical differences.
We appreciate your prayers as we enter this season as a church. Our church is like a military base. We are training and sending soldiers out all over the world. Pray that we will send them out as healthy and prepared soldiers, ready to faithfully advance the gospel, and plant churches all over the world for the glory of Christ.