Today, Amanda and I, along with Tim & Diane Castro, Rob & Rivers Sellers, and Rob & Joy Williams shared with our Landmark Church family our plans to begin a new gathering of believers in the Redland Community of Elmore County where our families live.
Landmark has been an incredible church family and we have no reason to leave it, except that we serve a God who calls us to leave the 99 and go after the one. Some of the greatest influences on our lives are a part of Landmark. I have been on staff at Landmark for over 15 years, developing both a college and missions ministry that I have loved. I have been given an incredible window of insight into what God is doing in the world today. This decision to resign my job was not an easy one, but a calling from the Lord. My last day on staff at Landmark will be Oct 31.
This journey began for us back in the fall of 2006 when I was doing some graduate school work in missions. One particular class on church planting challenged me to do research on Elmore County, the new home that Amanda and I had recently moved to. The statistics were overwhelming. According to the 2010 U.S. Census on Religion, Elmore County is the 5th least churched county in the state of Alabama. Of the nearly 80,000 people that live in the county, 53% don’t claim any church affiliation. We have all had constant conversations with friends and neighbors who have longed for more choices in the Redland area. There are several good churches in the area. However, the number of churches hasn’t grown with the 43% population growth in the 36093 zip code from 2000-2010. Through the last seven years these statistics have burdened our hearts.
Our four families have been in prayer and listening for God’s promptings since initially discussing this in January of 2013. We have received many confirmations through these months. Our family and close friends are very supportive and encouraging. In August I approached the Landmark Elders to ask for their blessing in this work, which we received. The Lord has very clearly called us forward to this mission and now we are aligning our lives to dedicate ourselves to this work, which will be called the Redland Hills Church. Our desire is to love and serve our community, being on mission with God, so that others will know Jesus as Savior.
We have selected Mission Alive, a church planting organization in Dallas, TX, as our strategic partner for coaching and equipping. Mission Alive was birthed out of the need to help existing churches go through renewal and cast a vision for the beginning of new churches. They also equip church planters in strategy, theology, and nurture them spiritually. The Castros and the Gunns participated in a Discovery lab in May 2013 that examined our backgrounds, personalities, spiritual giftedness, leadership strengths, and marriages. The end result of that weekend was a decision to partner together in this new church plant.
We know our friends will have many questions. Some will ask, “what about all the mission works that Wes leaves behind?” These mission points will continue to be an important part of my life and we hope the new church will also become engaged in them. I plan to continue to lead the surgical trip to Malawi in May 2014. I anticipate that in this new church there will be a significant focus on missions.
Others may want to know, “when will this begin?” and “where will it meet?” The next few months will be a time of sharing with others, building relationships, meeting in a home, and visiting other church plants in the region. If you know someone who is looking for a church home and would be interested in talking with us, please let us know. Our tentative plan is to launch a public worship gathering sometime in early 2014.
The most important thing we are asking our friends to do is to uphold this new work in prayer. We have never planted a church before and the task is overwhelming and humbling. But we serve a God who calls the weak to display his strength.
May God continue to have his hand upon the Landmark family and its mission points throughout the world. And may he give us grace as we begin a new church family in the Redland community. It’s all for His glory.