Carolina Forest: Who wants to plant a church for $2500?

Posted: July 20, 2008 by limabean03 in Carolina Forest, Church Planting, Rob's Thoughts, Trinity Tidings, Uncategorized

Are you ready to get started?

Eight years ago some men and women of foresight bought eight acres of land in one of the most rapidly developing areas in the entire state of South Carolina.  This area is known as “Carolina Forest” and it is, strategically speaking, a key tract of land for the mission of the church.

In thinking through how we would utilize that land, it occurred to some of us who’ve turned our thoughts across the waterway that now was the time to think radical thoughts about church and church planting before we even began to talk about breaking ground.  Demographics are important.  Carolina Forest is populated by young families, first time home buyers, a significant population of snow-bird retirees, and college students.  The college students are perhaps the most interesting, not because of who they are but how they got there.  Carolina Forest is about a ten minute drive from Coastal Carolina University.  Entrepreneurs looking to capitalize on a booming college population have begun to purchase houses and condos and rent them out to college students. 

So how are we going to reach these people with the Gospel?  Let me suggest that putting up an expensive, beautiful structure that we’ll have to spend the next 15 years paying off might not be the way forward (especially since the young families who will worship there may not be able to bear that debt).  Simply exporting our worship and style to Carolina Forest and assuming it will take off is an equally bad idea.  Rather, what I’m thinking is that before building on the land we create a gathering center for the community.  What we need, before we have a church, is a place for them to come and get to know us, where we can serve them and meet their needs and through that relationship impact their lives with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  After that community has been established, we let them choose what kind of worship and structure they want and support them as much as we can in that endeavor.  I have been promised strong support from the Diocese for this type of plant.     

So what is the gathering place that we’ll use to begin this plant?  Last Thursday I took Colin Burch, Iain Boyd, Daron Taylor (Diocesan Young Adults Coordinator), and Sammy Altaher (recent addition to the Trinity family) to look at an empty coffee shop that is currently for sale at the Kroger’s shopping center in Carolina Forest.  The original cost of the coffee shop was $30,000 fully kitted out.  This price tag was a bit prohibitive for us, but when the owner (who is a Christian) heard that we were planting a church, and would like to use the coffee shop as a launch pad for our church plant, he offered to retain ownership as long as we pick up the lease, meaning we would essentially have the coffee shop for just $2500 a month. 

What I’m suggesting is that we pay the lease and begin operating this coffee shop as an outreach ministry to Carolina Forest.  This coffee shop was a good gathering place while it was open and had good monthly income.  It would be a fantastic place to begin gathering folks for the church plant and in my opinion would be a terribly effective way to build relationships in that community.  We could begin with small group Bible studies in the coffee shop, build to an ALPHA program, then move on to building a core to begin the church plant.  We could even launch an effective college ministry from such a place. 

I’m encouraging local churches, individuals and small groups to think about sponsoring this coffee shop for one month out of the year.  This is a $2500 commitment.  I’m appealing both near and far to anyone who shares our vision for the Gospel, evangelism and church planting.  I’ve already had an individual in Charleston commit to covering the lease for one month.  Think and pray over it. 

Lastly, for those of you who are a bit skeptical about this type of ministry, let me just say that denominational Christianity in the U.S. is in rapid decline.  What the time calls for is creative, faithful, Gospel centered ministry that takes the Church to the world, rather than expecting the world to come to the Church.  We can’t just keep hanging out in our buildings, doing the same things we’ve always done (and like doing!) and expect to reach the next generation for Christ.  Now is the time to think radically about mission. 

If you are interested in contributing to this endeavor or would like more information, please contact the church offices at 843-448-8426 for more information.

Peace,

Rob

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