The Greenhouse Series: Renewal Church, Greenville, SC

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[Note: The Greenhouse Series promotes church planting and church renewal in the United States. Each installment spotlights a specific church that has recently been planted or is in the process of revitalization, as a means of encouraging our readership in the victories of the gospel and allowing them the opportunity to support these churches.]

Here is a painful truth: the American South is full of cultural Christians who are in fact non-disciples. In recognition of that fact, Matt Rogers and his family moved to Greenville, SC, to plant Renewal Church and work with other churches to bring genuine gospel renewal to the greater Greenville area.

Matt and his family graduated from Southeastern in 2007, spent two years serving at Crosspoint Church in Clemson, SC, and transitioned to Greenville, SC in 2009 to plant Renewal Church. During the development phase, Toby Dix was added to the pastoral staff and one year later Hugh Carson, a Southeastern graduate and his family joined the team at Renewal. Matt and Hugh both sat under the care, teaching, and leadership of North Wake Church during their time in seminary.

The core issue for planting Renewal Church was the desire to transform the culture of Greenville by producing maturing disciples who in turn make disciples by the power of the Spirit. Hence, the first four small groups began meeting in the fall of 2009 and the first public gathering as Renewal Church happened in March of 2010. The church now has roughly 100 members and an average of 125 in weekly gatherings. Of those, 80 are actively integrated into one of five current small groups, with 6-8 new groups beginning in the fall. While the church is made up of a diverse collection of believers, the college campuses of Furman, North Greenville, and Greenville Tech are a focus of ministry for Renewal.

In their nearly two-year presence in Greenville, Renewal Church has witnessed God transform several lives through the gospel by the work of the Spirit. As Matt states, “the stories of life change are fascinatingly diverse.” For example, over the past year Matt witnessed his college roommate’s wife trust Christ and was able to baptize her. She has since become involved in a small group, is being encouraged with her husband to lead their own small group, and is also discipling another new believer. Also, while meeting as a congretation at Greenville Tech, Renewal Church engages the city through showing hospitality, various service projects, and diligent prayer. Evidences of God’s work among his people encourages Matt, Toby, and Hugh to press forward in the work of the church.

You, too, can come alongside God’s work through Renewal Church by praying for 1) maturity and multiplication in our people; 2) the spiritual health, discernment, and passion for the leadership and their families; 3) favor with those that we serve in the city; and 4) development of the new small groups needed to provide care for our people.

You can support Renewal Church financially, donating online at www.renewalchurch.cc or by mail: Renewal Church, 201B. West Butler Rd. #151, Mauldin, SC 29662. You can also keep up with the happenings, listen to sermons, and read the blog of Renewal Church via their website. You can also contact the pastoral staff directly by email: Matt (matt@renewalchurch.cc),Toby (toby@renewalchurch.cc), and Hugh (hugh@renewalchurch.cc).

The Greenhouse Series: Grace Church Boston and Mosaic Boston

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[Note: The Greenhouse Series promotes church planting and church renewal in the United States. Each installment spotlights a specific church that has recently been planted or is in the process of revitalization, as a means of encouraging our readership in the victories of the gospel and allowing them the opportunity to support these churches.]

SEBTS alum Jan Vezikov and his family are working hard by God’s grace to reach the city of Boston for his glory. Jan, pronounced “Yahn,” moved to Boston in July 2009 with his wife, Tanya, and daughter, Sophia – another daughter, Elizabeth, was born in March 2011- to plant churches in the heart of Boston. That indeed reads “churches” because Jan is fluent in English and Russian as he was born in Estonia, but grew up in Rhode Island. After graduating from Brown University and working for the federal government as a Russian Analyst, Jan came to Southeastern where he graduated in May 2009. So just a couple months later, the Vezikov family arrived in Boston to minister to English and Russian speaking residents of Boston.

To carry out this ministry Jan planted two churches, Grace Church (GCB) and Mosaic Boston. GCB is devoted to reaching the large community of local Russian speakers, numbering at least 50,000. Jan and his family moved to Boston because they were not aware of any sustained gospel witness among this community. Jan now lives within walking distance of six Russian grocery stores, pastoring the congregation and calling unbelievers to Jesus. Grace Church was featured on the May cover of one of Boston’s most popular Russian directories. The cover shows images from several universal life stages, ending with the question: “… is this it?” 8,000 copies were printed and mailed to Russian homes and businesses in the area. GCB hosts monthly gatherings, such as a “Russian Movie Night,” to reach out to the community. One such gathering in February saw 20 new people come to the gathering. GCB has been blessed with the conversion, baptism, and membership of several people. Pray for the growth of the believers in this congregation and the conversion of those reached by them.

Mosaic Boston is a congregation gathering and reaching young professionals, families, and students in the Fenway area of Boston. As in GCB, Jan preaches in and pastors this congregation. Mosaic gathers on Sundays to worship through song, prayer and the word. After each worship service, they gather for lunch because they have found “there is something inherently spiritual about eating together. This was and is the way of Jesus.” Recently, Mosaic launched a community group ministry among the congregation and this has been very successful. Like GCB, Mosaic is dedicated to extending its love for one another by witnessing to the way of Jesus in the Fenway area.

Jan and Tanya Vezikov are doing good work in Boston. We can come alongside them in various ways: (1) We can pray for the protection, health, and mercy upon Jan, Tanya, Sophia, and Elizabeth and (2) for the spiritual growth of GCB and Mosaic and for conversions through their ministries. (3) We can also pray for the new church plant campus in the Allston area, City on a Hill, which Jan is also pastoring. (4) We can also provide financial support or help with a short-term support trip by contacting Jan at jan.vezikov@gmail.com.

We can also stay up to date with the Vezikov’s ministry by visiting the websites for GCB (http://www.gracechurchboston.org), Mosaic Boston (http://mosaicboston.com), and City on a Hill (http://coahchurch.org/#/home). Also, the North American Mission Board recently featured Jan in a video (here) and in NAMB President Kevin Ezell’s article (here) in On Mission Magazine.

The Greenhouse Series: Redemption Hill Church in Boston, MA

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[Note: The Greenhouse Series promotes church planting and church renewal in the United States. Each installment spotlights a specific church that has recently been planted or is in the process of revitalization, as a means of encouraging our readership in the victories of the gospel and allowing them the opportunity to support these churches.]

Over the past few years, we Southern Baptists have come face to face with the brutal facts: we are a mostly Southern, mostly middle-class, mostly white network of mostly-declining churches. One challenge that arises from this reality is that of reaching the great urban centers of the Northeast and the West Coast. Urban centers such as New York, Boston, and Los Angeles are major centers of social and cultural influence, and yet we have spent (comparatively) precious little of our resources to unleash the gospel and plant churches in those cities.

Upon the backdrop of that reality, I am particularly happy to spotlight the work of Southeastern alums Tanner Turley, Josh Miller, Abbey Cook, and Jon Chasteen, who are planting Redemption Hill Church in Medford, Massachusetts, a few miles north of downtown Boston. Below is a concise overview of their church plant, followed by information about how one can support them in their ministry in Boston.

Tanner, Josh, Jon, and Abbey moved to Boston, enabled by the ministry and equipping of Open Door Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC. Tanner had begun to pray about church planting five years ago, sensing God’s guidance to leave the Bible belt and relocate to a major city. Tanner, Josh, and their families took a trip to Boston and soon confirmed that Boston was that city. Abby Cook, also a member at Open Door, joined the team a year later, and the group was finalized when Jon Chasteen came on board in 2009. This core of Redemption Hill moved to Boston in June 2010.

Tanner, Josh, Abby, and Jon spent their first month in Boston getting acclimated to the city, meeting neighbors, and extending hospitality. Tanner notes that these efforts “all continue to this day!” So the summer and fall months of 2010 were spent building relationships, finding ways to serve the city, and engaging in one-on-one discipleship – all with gospel intentionality. The leadership team formed the first community group and multiplied about three months later. Monthly corporate meetings started in November and grew toward weekly worship gatherings. Sunday services began in earnest on April 10, 2011 with 136 people in attendance – an incredible gospel opportunity in New England. The church now averages around 60 attendees, a great number, with many nonbelievers, internationals, and college students in attendance.

Redemption Hill’s ministry in Boston also extends to the community through local partnerships God has provided with “persons of peace.” They partner with the Boys’ & Girls’ Club and have established a great working relationship with the Athletic Director at the local high school. In fact, this relationship is already bearing fruit: the AD has arranged all the details for Redemption Hill to host a free soccer clinic (July 11-15) for elementary-school kids. Tanner states that Redemption Hill “has been blown away by the doors God has opened for us to serve in our community.” Furthermore, they continue to multiply their Community Groups, raise up new leaders, and mobilize the congregation to serve. For example, the church will put on a “Serve Medford” week (July 25-29).

The ministry of Redemption Hill is another example that the church, as Paul states, is the vehicle to make known God’s multiform wisdom to the powers and authorities (Eph. 3:10). We can come alongside this great work by 1) praying for the spiritual growth of the members and families of Redemption Hill’s leadership team, 2) praying for continued and extended kingdom work in Boston via Redemption Hill’s ministry, and 3) supporting them financially. If you would like to offer such support, visit their website (http://www.redemptionhillchurch.com/connect/give/) or contact the Pastor of Missions and Discipleship, Jon Chasteen (jon@redemptionhillchurch.com).