mutual ministry. sunday was a big day. my husband announced to the congregation our plans to join pleasant hill church in mutual ministry. the letter below went out to the PHC congregation & relevant will send out an email this week containing our info.
i sit amazed at the workings of God, He is good.
PLEASANT HILL PRESBYTERIAN AND RELEVANT CHURCHES
In the Christmas Story, the angel announces the glad tidings of Jesus’ birth to shepherds in the fields keeping watch over their flocks by night (Luke 2:8-14). It says that “the glory of the Lord shone round about them.” Shepherds were common folk, but God’s glory was revealed to them. The point is: When God reveals his glory in new and exciting ways, it’s just as likely to be revealed to us as to anyone else.
God is about to do something new – something bold and exciting and new – among us in our church. Early in 2012, God put a burden on Pastor Bob’s heart to meet with Matt McGarity, Pastor of a new church development named “Relevant,” which has been meeting for worship in Oakridge Middle School, Clover, SC, for the last eighteen months. Matt and Pastor Bob first met five years ago through mutual Gordon-Conwell connections. Pastor Bob didn’t know it at the time, but Matt received a similar prompting to get up with him, and within a short time they “bumped into” each other at Chik-Fil-A.
They began a series of meetings which consisted entirely of walking, talking, praying, discerning God’s will for their churches, and the study of God’s word. One day, after they had met a few times, Matt asked Pastor Bob, “Why are we doing this? What do you think God wants us to do?” And Bob answered, tentatively at first, that he felt God was moving them to explore the possibility of bringing their two churches together in mutual witness and ministry. Matt agreed that that was his sensing as well.
Next, they brought together five representatives from each church. From Pleasant Hill: Nancy Nutter, Ken Saylor, Tom Wollenberg, Fred Wetherell, and Lindy Wetherell. At their first mutual strategy session, they all agreed that this action had the hand of God upon it. With the general trend in our society toward fragmentation and splintering of church groups, wouldn’t it be a sublime witness to the reconciling power of God to bring two churches together in mutual ministry?
Pleasant Hill needs to do this because we are an older, established congregation that has reached a “plateau” in membership, and attendance in worship has been on a downward trend. For these reasons, we commissioned a Vision/Learning Team in 2010 to explore various reasons why we are not growing. The “Plan for Further Action: 2012” workbook was the product of those two years of discernment, and it delineates several barriers to growth in our church. One of those barriers is our lack of effectively reaching out into the community to bring people to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Relevant began with a very small group of worshippers two years ago, and has built a congregation of about two hundred at the present time, most of whom had little or no church experience before. They have the ability to reach the “unchurched” with the gospel in a compelling way.
Relevant needs to do this because they have been meeting temporarily in a school and now desire to be in a more “settled” location, to be able to offer their members a place for worship and education, as well as somewhere that can offer facilities for weddings and funerals and other amenities of a Christian community. Pastor Matt’s vision includes not only planting new churches, but helping to revitalize older, established churches. He also desires for his members, most of which are “new Christians,” to be able to interact with more “seasoned” believers who can share the benefits of living the Christian life “in the long haul.”
Our two churches will begin planning for mutual worship to begin on March 10, 2013. This would include an early, traditional service and a later contemporary service, times to be worked out mutually. The early service will be led by Pastor Bob and will continue to use a Reformed order of worship. It will benefit from having special music every Sunday (chancel choir, solos, ensembles, praise band), and will provide an option for those who presently worship at 11:00 but choose not to participate in a truly contemporary format.
The later service will be led by Pastor Matt and will utilize the elements that have worked so well for Relevant. These include, but are not limited to, conversational-style preaching that utilizes over-head screens; a praise/rock band that plays contemporary pieces as often heard on New Life 91.9 FM Radio; assorted worship “props” such as background screens and special lighting effects that can be set up in the sanctuary, but stored away when not in use. To be clear: this will be a very different, contemporary worship format!
As a way of introducing each church to the other, we will have an initial joint service of worship on Sunday, February 10, 6:00 PM, at Pleasant Hill Church. A small reception of punch and cookies will follow the service, either in the narthex area, or the Multi-purpose Room of the Boyd Education Building.
All those involved have sensed the leading of God from the very start. God is calling Pleasant Hill to engage in a bold, new initiative for reaching the unchurched in our community, and growing the members of our church in the faith by partnering with Relevant. At least initially, we will proceed as two churches worshipping as one, with the goal of merging sometime in the future. , We will trust in God to guide our common future as we plan how this will come about organically and structurally. Such practical matters as worship times, staff relationships, finances, etc., will be worked on in teams/committees as we press ahead toward the common goal of mutual witness to our God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:14).
Emily Warnke, Clerk of Session
Matt McGarity is a follower of Jesus, a husband of one and father of five.
Sinners saved by Grace, Matt and his wife Elizabeth both were born and raised in Charlotte, NC. They met in high school and later married during college. Matt was raised at St. Giles Presbyterian and Elizabeth at Myers Park Presbyterian. They both came to know the Lord at an early age in life.
After high school, Matt enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. During his six year enlistment, he attended North Carolina State University receiving an AA in Agribusiness Management, then a BA in Business from Montreat College.
Matt spent 9 years of his professional life prior to full-time ministry in the civil construction sector. Beginning as a laborer on a paving crew, Matt worked through many positions of field work and heavy equipment operating to engineering, estimating and project management, and finally in positions of executive leadership as Director of Business Development, and Vice President.
After years of wrestling with a call to vocational ministry, Matt began seminary in 2006, while working full-time and serving as a volunteer worship leader at Clover Presbyterian Church. With less than half of seminary completed, he received his first call to serve as an Associate Pastor at the River Hills Community Church in 2008. He left earthly building and began to focus solely on Kingdom building. During his three year covenant at RHCC, Matt began to sense a call to plant a church. Still plugging away continuously through his studies, Matt graduated with an MDIV from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in May of 2011. With a deep passion and sense of call to reaching the "unchurched" with the Gospel, Matt stepped out of the boat in
faith to plant Relevant Church in July of 2011 after his covenant with RHCC expired. Upon examination and authentication by a council of ordained ministers, Matt was ordained on October 29th, 2011.
With a clear vision of ministry, the mission of Relevant Church is to "connect a changing world to an unchanging Word." The passion of carrying forth this mission is through church planting and growth with dynamic methods that are "out of the box". God has called and commissioned us to make a huge impact in our world through the advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Matt McGarity serves as Lead Pastor of Relevant Church in Lake Wylie, SC and holds board positions with evangelistic ministries such as Biblical Character Education (Charter Board Member, Treasurer), and Godfactor (Board Member) www.godfactor.com. He and his family reside in Lake Wylie, SC.
~ www.aboutrelevant.com ~
~ www.mattmcgarity.com ~
welp....that is the word~
please continue to pray for both churches as we seek the details & our implementation teams start the work of this mutual ministry. i have to say i am loving the words used to describe our trendy church. hope we don't blow their eardrums & they don't mind jeans & flip flops. ONLY GOD, could bring these two totally different churches together. ONLY GOD.