Mark your calendars! On November 4th, Forreston Grove will celebrate our annual Mission Feast by welcoming Ted Powers, church planting coordinator for the PCA. Ted is a longtime friend of Forreston Grove whose ministry is to help local churches and presbyteries within the wider PCA start brand-new churches for the glory of Jesus. So why would a church of less than 100 people be talking about church planting? Let me explain.
Over the past two years, I have enjoyed many a conversation with our unofficial congregational historian, Harley Greenfield. He has shown me photos, newspaper clippings, and other documents that tell the story of how our congregation came to be what it is today. I was particularly excited to hear about how the Lord used Forreston Grove as a “mother church” in the late 1800s/early 1900s to birth many daughter churches, especially in South Dakota. A small country church was used by God to plant more small country churches so that the American countryside might know the life-transforming gospel of Jesus.Church planting is deeply in our congregation’s DNA.
As a session, we believe God is still at work planting newchurches which will bring that same powerful gospel message to the ears of men, women, and children throughout northern Illinois. As a presbytery, we areactively searching for the right man to plant a new church in Springfield. But one new church isn’t enough to keep up with the need within the Presbytery ofNorthern Illinois (PNI), as seen by these findings from a research project wecompleted last year:
“Theopportunity to plant churches within PNI’s bounds is great. PNI’s bounds coverthe northern half of Illinois (excluding the Chicago metropolitan area). Within PNI’s bounds are 45 counties with a total population of 2.7 million, of whichapproximately one million (38%) have no religious affiliation.”
So, what are we doing about this? This summer Forreston Grove took a big leap of faith by committing to be part of a new presbytery initiative to fund new church plants and campus ministries within our bounds. By working together, our collection of churches will be able to sustainablyraise the money needed to start new churches in both big cities likeSpringfield, Rockford, and the Quad Cities, as well as in the countless smalltowns all around us that desperately need gospel-centered churches.
Under the PNI Mission Strategy, churches are asked to gradually work up to giving 5% of their overall budgets over a 10-year period. In 2019, Forreston Grove, along with several other PNI churches, will begin sending 0.5% of every dollar from the offering plate to fund the work of church planting within our presbytery’s bounds. This amount will increase annually by an additional half-percent over the next 10 years until we reach our 5% goal. I’m incredibly excited about what the Lord might do through this churchplanting partnership as we seek to make disciples in every city and countyaround us!
“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” (Habakkuk 2:14)
For His Glory,