Harvest OPC in Wyoming, Michigan, is dedicated to being a church that plants churches. That takes leadership, public prayer, the wise stewardship of resources, a mentality of kingdom generosity, and a willingness to be stretched, to lose members to a new plant, and to take on additional oversight.
I was graciously invited to be a part of Harvest’s mission in fall 2018. My family and I came with the intention of planting a gospel-centered church in my hometown of Zeeland. I was given an office at Harvest’s church building. My family worshiped at Harvest every Sunday, immersing ourselves in the life and activities of the congregation. There was space for me to think, to tend my own heart and family, and to learn about Harvest even as I prepared to lead the planting of a daughter church.
In the spring of 2019, we launched our morning and evening worship services. One way Harvest continued to shepherd and nurture us during those early months was by sending an elder and deacon to every service. As visitors turned into members, the Harvest session was involved in membership interviews, shepherding visits, and all the normal responsibilities of elders.
The cost to the mother church in church planting is vast. Why invest in planting churches? Pastor Dale Van Dyke at Harvest OPC explains, “Each time we have planted a church, we’ve seen the Lord bless us both in giving and in new visitors. Nothing is lost when we are pursuing Christ’s mission!”
Pastor Wayne Veenstra (also at Harvest) agrees. “What we’ve found is that having an outward-focused orientation has been critical to our health as a congregation, and it has also tended to attract people. ” Grace Fellowship in Zeeland received about ten families from Harvest, which does a few things. On Harvest’s side, it creates new opportunities for leadership. Meanwhile, the Harvest families at Grace Fellowshipare able to bring Harvest’s culture along with them.
I’m so thankful that the Lord brought me and my family to an OPC church plant. Now, it’s my hope and prayer that one day Grace Fellowship will become a mother of our own daughter. May the Lord raise up a harvest of church-planting churches, to the praise of Christ’s glorious grace.
Adapted from an article by Rev. Michael J. Schout.