A Thankful Church Planter


I received an email today from one of my former students when I was a campus minister at Mercer University with Reformed University Fellowship (RUF). The student’s name is Eric Ashley. I was privileged not only to be Eric’s Campus Minister but also to officiate his wedding. The email I received let me know that Eric is going to be a church planter in Nashville, TN.

HLPC began as a church plant so I was once a church planter myself. I wrote Eric back to encourage him and couldn’t help but reflect on our own history as a church. Our initial informational meeting about a new church for Houston County was with 5 families, most of whom are still a part of this work. That’s pretty extraordinary. From this small group, God was very, very faithful to raise up Houston Lake Presbyterian Church.

I’m not sure I could teach a class on church planting. When I look back on our history it was simply a matter of God adding to His church. I would have to say honestly that God gave me a front row seat and let me, and you, watch Him at work and build His church. There were no cutting edge strategies.

Not that we’ve not had our ups and downs. I tell other pastors that one of the hardest challenges we face is the consistent turnover we see in our congregation. God sends us wonderful military families and eventually most of them move. I say often that I have a “love/hate” relationship with the Air Force. I know moving is hard on those families and it’s hard on us who come to love them and have to say good-bye. Besides this, we simply live in a transitory culture- people simply move. The days of growing up within miles of all your extended family on both sides are long gone.

All this is to say that simple email made me thankful to God for His blessing on HLPC and for His consistent provision. This summer will mark the 13th year since this all started as a Bible Study meeting in a living room. Praise God for His grace and mercy toward us!