Church planting has been discussed a number of times in recent months at Grace Polaris Church. We want to be a church that pursues new life, new growth, new leaders, and new churches. We want to intentionally make disciples who make disciples and form new communities of believers in Columbus, in other regional cities, and even around the world. Where do we begin? What principles can guide us in these efforts?
As we look at Scripture, God’s heart for the nations is consistent and clear. All the way back in Genesis, we see God’s promise to Abraham that He will make him into a blessing for all the nations. Fast-forward to the ministry of Jesus and we see His time on earth culminate with the Great Commission: “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). Finally, in Revelation we see the end-times picture of God’s people worshipping around the throne, represented by people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. Because God’s heart beats for the nations—for the people who have least access to the Gospel—we want our efforts to reflect His heart. We want to give priority to those who have little opportunity to hear and respond to the Gospel and who may have gone their whole lives without ever having a meaningful conversation with a follower of Jesus.
In praying and looking around our own city, we’ve been captivated by the Northland area. This part of the city is filled with many refugees and immigrants from all over the world living together in fairly close proximity to one another. In that area alone there are more than 30,000 Somalis, which is considered one of the least-reached people groups in the world! There are also Nepalese, Iraqi, Syrian, Sudanese, Eritrean, and other communities represented in sizable numbers in Northland. What an opportunity right in our own backyard to pour ourselves out for the spread of the Gospel among the nations!
However, we realize that, with the significant cross-cultural element to church planting among these diverse populations, we must get creative in our methods of engagement. What has worked in other places among people more sympathetic to the Gospel is unlikely to work in a place and among a people group that predominantly follows Islam and has little interest in what a church has to offer. We recognize this when we send out global workers to other parts of the world, never expecting them to attempt to replicate Grace Polaris Church in Central Asia, Chad, Turkey, or even in France. We know that cross-cultural settings require wisdom in finding creative ways to engage with people and building credibility in the community.
I’ll be honest with you: this is an intimidating endeavor. However, we believe God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). We believe He is able to change hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. We believe He is able to move people from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. We believe that God is able to do the things that look impossible to us!
Here are three practical ways you can join in this effort today:
Psalm 127 reminds us that “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” Any success in this ministry will be a result of God moving in and through us for His purposes and His glory. We should not even hope to have success in making disciples and planting churches without a steady dependence on God through prayer. For now, here are a couple specific things you can pray for:
- A location or facility which will allow us to be firmly entrenched in the Northland community
- The funds to secure this facility
- Many volunteers who will join in this church planting effort
Sign up for our monthly email newsletter to get updates and specific prayer requests related to this endeavor in the Northland area. You will be some of the first to know about new developments and you will be relied upon to pray consistently for this new initiative.
If you think you may want to get involved, hands-on, with making disciples in the Northland area, especially among refugees, our team would love to help you get the training you need to be effective in this endeavor. Save the date for March 12 and our Church Planting 101 gathering, which will be a great first step to joining the team.
Dustin Speaks is the Mission Mobilization Pastor. He and his wife, Lauren, arrived in Columbus in the fall of 2012, after several initial ministry experiences. Dustin previously served as an associate pastor in South Dakota and as a missionary to university students in Berlin, Germany. Dustin studied history at Ohio University, where he met Lauren, and was involved in campus ministry with Cru. After graduation, the Speaks went to Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Chicago) to complete a degree in Intercultural Studies. He enjoys playing nearly all ball sports—basketball, golf, and soccer are his favorites. Dustin and Lauren have three young children.
Contact Pastor Dustin to sign up for one of these opportunities or to get more information on how you can be used by God to reach the nations in the Northland area.