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Redeeming Grace Church Plant - One Year Later

Posted in Church Plant, Relationships

Here is an update on the Redeeming Grace Church plant from Eric Holter and his leadership team.

God continues to show his steadfast love and faithfulness as he provides many opportunities for us to experience his great care. Reaching this one year milestone certainly provides the opportunity to consider the ways that God has grown us and refined us as a local church. While there are many ways to measure and interpret growth, we do rest in the knowledge that God has called us and continues to faithfully supply us with everything we need.

How do you measure growth? It can be done, or else what did Paul mean when he wrote to Timothy "Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress." But measuring growth can be complicated. Do we just count members? If so then we definitely did not grow this year. We lost four families and two singles and did not add any new members for most of the year.

However, we've added eight babies! (And one is still on the way.) Children are indeed a blessing from the Lord—but as a church planting strategy, it might not be the best approach.

What about measuring growth in terms of good works and ministry? That is more measurable. And we have been able to engage in some good works this year. We had our community outreach grand opening event which (with the help of SGC) was a great success. We also brought meals to the patients and staff of the 5th floor children’s cancer wing at Duke hospital last Easter, which made a profound impact, especially on the staff. We’ll be repeating that event this year. Additionally, we've served at the Campus Crusade International Student Lunch a handful of times. The Cormiers initiated this and have also followed by inviting these students to some events. This has opened up opportunities to share the gospel with students who have never heard anything about Jesus before in their lives. It is also building a bridge between Campus Crusade and Redeeming Grace which we hope will result in more direct involvement with students at Duke. Laura Alexander has begun an evangelistic Bible study with a couple of women in her neighborhood. They are reading through the gospel of John and hearing the gospel. One of these women recently came to church. Please pray that these two women would come to Christ!

But while we would have loved to do more ministry, eight babies, two major surgeries of members, as well other ailments, broken bones, and hospitalizations have slowed us down. At the same time God has used these circumstances to strengthen us and remind us of his sovereign care for his children.

While we have had a slow start in terms of numbers and works of ministry, God has recently been adding to our numbers. Three families have been coming very regularly, and we have plans to start a new members class after Easter.

We're also making connections with more local ministries and outreaches. So we are hopeful that we will see continued growth in members and ministry in the coming year.

But the growth that is most precious to us this year is the growth of faithfulness and spiritual maturity. This kind of growth is hard to see and quantify—it takes time to see it. James writes "See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand" (James 5:7-8). One way we've seen growth is in the week in and week out faithfulness of everyone in the church as we serve and care for one another.

The love and care in the church has been profoundly evident from the beginning and continues to shine as a testimony to God's grace at work in our lives. One of the new families that has been coming noted that one of the things that attracted them to Redeeming Grace was the joy they saw in how everyone served and loved each other. This is rich evidence of God's grace and a deepening of our faith here in Durham.

The fellowship of the saints is also rich. Being small has challenges, the workload must be born by fewer shoulders, yet it also has its blessing too. It's a joy to walk into church every Sunday and know everyone and most everything going on in their lives. I'm relishing this season, and while I pray for growth, I love this part of being small.

We have also grown in prayer. One of the results of not growing, and actually shrinking, was to drive us to our knees before God. We began a weekly, corporate, Sunday night prayer meeting specifically to pray for growth, open doors for the gospel, and the needs of the body. We pray for about an hour every Sunday; sometimes there are only two or three, and sometimes as many as 6-8 people come to pray. We are grateful that God used this season to remind us of the importance of prayer as we cultivate our dependence on God.

Please pray for us in the coming year. Please pray that God would continue to direct souls to our church. Pray that God would call believers to join our church. Also, pray that unbelievers would come that they might encounter the gospel of Jesus Christ. Pray that we would have wisdom to engage in ministries and good works that will be fruitful, lead to opportunities for the gospel, and demonstrate the goodness of our heavenly Father. Pray for our leaders. One of the most crucial aspects of planting a church is cultivating a robust plurality of elders. Joe, David, and I have enjoyed leading the church. We've also held regular leadership development meetings with a cohort of men within the church. But leaders/elders are wrought as much as they are taught. Please pray that God would work in the hearts of the men at Redeeming Grace to grow as future deacons and elders.

Above all, pray that Jesus will be glorified and that the gospel will take root as it sounds forth to those we encounter in Durham.

Finally, we do thank you. When you sent us off, we knew this was primarily the result of the faithfulness of SGC. We are an offshoot of your fruitful vine. Your generosity in sending so many of us here has made this year a joy. We are well supplied and eager to grow even more. And together we can acknowledge God has richly supplied for both churches, and this is certainly for his glory. His grace is manifest and abundant—to God be the glory!

Eric Holter, Joe Jackson, and David Douglas, for all the saints in Durham.

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