When a person is preparing himself for hard work, we may describe him as “rolling up his sleeves.” Church planters, it would seem, never roll their sleeves back down.
At the beginning of 2019, Brad Peppo started his labors as the organizing pastor of a mission work in Dayton, Ohio. Around the same time, the denomination, along with the Presbytery of Ohio, welcomed a new area home missions coordinator, Mike Diercks. Their words and example may encourage us to keep our sleeves rolled up, too.
First Street Reformed Fellowship in Dayton held their first evening worship service on Sunday, August 5, with ten households making up the core group. Soon after this, Peppo began a weekly home group. “We have a good degree of diversity from young singles to empty nesters. The purpose of the home group is to build our core strength and unity as we fellowship together,” he said.
Other than their weekly home group, First Street seeks to do all ministry out in public. “Our weekly Bible study is held at the local coffee shop. We’ve actually had one eavesdropping customer become a regular participant,” Peppo shares. She said, “Hey, are you guys having a Bible study? Can I join you?” Peppo replied, “Yes, that’s why we’re here!”
Peppo shares that they would appreciate prayer for continued growth in outreach and unity. He also notes that “Covenant OPC in Vandalia has been great about people coming to participate who aren’t planning to be part of the work.”
There’s a message here for those folks who live near a mission work: participate in worship with them from time to time. The new Ohio area home missions coordinator, Mike Diercks, agrees. “You have no idea the blessing it can be for a mission work just to have one more family in their midst,” he said.
Churches can show support to mission works in other ways as well, Diercks said. They can “consider adopting a mission work,” providing prayer support as well as letters from the congregation, phone calls, care packages, and so on. We show support to our foreign missionaries, Diercks pointed out, so why not do the same for our home missionaries?
Sometimes we forget that even though they’re on our “home turf,” many church planters feel isolated. “For some of them, their overseeing session or the nearest OP church is hours away,” he said. Another way to support a mission work is to participate in their outreach events. “Whether they’re going to canvass the neighborhood or host a chili cook-off, volunteer to serve with them. It’s nice to have someone come alongside you,” Diercks said.
Diercks practices what he preaches. In the eighties and nineties, when their kids were young, Diercks and his wife, Elizabeth, rolled up their sleeves to assist nearly a dozen church plants.
Though Diercks was set to begin his labors in January of 2019, like Peppo, he could not wait to get started. In December he began making church visits and drafting an operating manual for the presbytery’s home missions committee. His goal is to continually visit all the congregations in the presbytery and his greatest prayer request is that he would be used to stimulate the whole presbytery to be engaged in church planting. “Whether through prayer partnership, financing, or supplying people, there is a role that every congregation can play,” asserts Diercks. “We want to see churches that are proclaiming the pure gospel of Jesus Christ in every city and every town in the presbytery. You and I are a part of that,” Diercks concludes. So let’s roll up our sleeves!
Taken from the article in the May 2019 edition of New Horizons, written by Katie Stumpff, the administrative assistant for the Home Missions Committee.