The Orthodox Presbyterian Church has a way of starting new churches that seems to be intuitive to the ministers and elders who have embraced and made use of it to start dozens of new congregations among her seventeen presbyteries over the past decade. Simply put, it goes like this: start with a group, provide elder oversight, call an organizing pastor, take time to let the group mature into the body of Christ, organize it as a new congregation, and expect it to take its place among the working, serving and giving churches that helped to begin it. But this crisp, six-stage process needs unpacking to appreciate its biblical conformity, its Presbyterian consistency, its Reformed distinctiveness, and its working simplicity. 1. START WITH A
Williamsport, Pennsylvania, is the home of Little League Baseball. It is also home to a beautiful new daughter, Omega OPC. The adoring mother is New Life OPC. Mom and daughter worship just fifteen minutes apart in this town of 29,000 people. When New Life completed its building in 1999, Pastor Paul Browne and the elders decided that when God filled the space, they would plant a daughter congregation rather than enlarge the building. So in 2006 New Life sent off about twenty-five of its people to plant Redeemer OPC in Danville, Pennsylvania (thirty-five miles to the southeast), with Roth Reason as the organizing pastor. As the Lord filled the building with worshipers once again, plans began to be laid for another church
The church building recently completed and occupied by Redeemer OPC in Ada, Michigan, just outside Grand Rapids, was designed to welcome visitors and to house a large and expanding mission-minded congregation. I was a guest at their first worship service in the new facility on a sunny but chilly day in mid-February. The 419 people in attendance made the 550-seat worship facility seem comfortably full. And the 260 folks who came back for evening worship gave clear evidence that this was a lively and substantial congregation of God’s people. As Home Missions general secretary, I have had a unique experience with Redeemer OPC over the years. I was there in Ada at one of the early Bible studies when the church was forming in the Spring
The move to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has been filled with wonderful surprises for Chad and Katie Mullinix. The Mullinixes are not new to Florida. They both graduated from Clearwater Christian College. They met in college. During their years of dating, they came to know the Reformed faith through the ministry of a local Presbyterian Church in America congregation. After graduation, they were married, and Chad did an internship in the PCA church that had nurtured them. During the five years they spent in the Philadelphia area, Chad completed his M.Div. at Westminster Theological Seminary and a yearlong internship at Trinity OPC in Hatboro. He also renovated the fixer-upper that they had purchased. Katie worked full-time in the
Fremont OPC in Fremont, Michigan, began as an effort of Little Farms Chapel (OPC) in Coopersville. One family was driving from Fremont to Little Farms Chapel and praying that God would establish an OP congregation in their community in western Michigan. In the spring of 2008, Dr. Norman De Jong began leading Lord’s Day worship there, morning and evening. By the fall, a core group had been gathered and Dr. De Jong was called to be the organizing pastor. Pastor Norm and his wife, Wilma, established a welcoming atmosphere with people who had a desire to hear the preaching of God’s Word. About a year ago, they sensed that it was time for a younger pastor to lead this new congregation on to new stages of ministry growth and development.