South Thompson Baptist Church
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Missionary Greg Riner

August 10, 2010

Hello brethren! I met with Terry and Lynn Reagin (from Appling County) this past weekend at a church planter's training event. Jay and Melanie know them well, but others of you may remember them because Terry preached at Jay's deacon ordination at South Thompson about 18 months ago. Terry & Lynn love the Lord and have invested their lives serving Him. They have been led by the Lord to start a new church (Golden Isles Community Baptist) in Appling County. There has been no attempt to begin new ministry or plant new churches there in many, many years. Like Toombs County, 80% of the people in Appling County attend no church, at all, ever, never!

 

The Consolation Baptist association approved the church as a mission to be placed under the watch care of the association, and allows them to conduct their Sunday worship services in the association office building, which is in the county between Baxley and Hazlehurst. But that is the extent of partnership he has received. For all the same reasons, we struggled with the launch of Journey Church in Vidalia, Terry faces the same difficulties. BUT the difference is that there were some believers, pastors and otherwise, and churches willing to partner together to launch Journey Church. Terry has no one in his community. NO ONE! That is so contrary to the Book of Acts! He has no one to partner with them in prayer. He has no other pastor offer any encouragement or assistance. He has no one to call on for help if they ever want to do a community visitation or survey, or conduct a children's event, or........

 

Other churches hesitate to help because of fear, suspicion, competition, whininess, ego, pride, turf protection, and just plain sorriness! It's all the same things I observed two years ago prior to the launch of Journey Church.

 

I am burdened to pray with them, and I ask you to pray for them too. Perhaps, at some point, God willing and leading, the Lord may allow some of you to partner with Terry and Lynn in this new ministry. I am more convinced than ever, that we need to be planting new churches and ministries everywhere, regularly; churches that will in turn reproduce within 3 years. The evidence is clear and the verdict is in, the most effective way to advance the kingdom and efficient use of resources is NOT to expand an existing church ministry, but to send called, gifted, equipped people out to start new kingdom work that will multiply again and again. God's way is to reach people for Jesus, gift them, equip them, and release them to the will of God, not hold them back or hoard them. Terry embraces that philosophy too, and that as churches, we should always be willing to embrace a kingdom purpose far greater and outside of ourselves.

 

I would love to talk to you anytime about this need, or if you feel led, contact Terry and let him know your heart's desire to pray or partner with him.

 

Terry & Lynn Reagin

501 Hunter Rd

Baxley, GA 31513

912-309-0041 (cell)

912-539-4352 (home)

reagin89@yahoo.com

 

Love and grace to you,

Greg

 

 

July 31, 2010

 

Hello friends! I want to give you a brief update of the church re-start ministry here in Atlanta.  The next month is very important in the transition of leadership from the former Midtown Church to the new ministry. The Lord has brought us far enough along that the remaining two holdover leaders from the former ministry are preparing to move on, and new leaders are being appointed. Just pray that we will honor the Lord in what we do. Our new leadership team will have "Basic Training" next weekend. It is offered by the Georgia Baptist Convention to church planting teams to establish vision, priorities, goals, milestones, etc for advancing the work of the kingdom in the community. In our fellowship and prayer meetings, we have been growing in our familiarity with one another, but three days together will certainly stretch us, and allow us to come to agreement on the work God has given to us. The three new leaders God has given to us are younger than Todd and I, and are new to ministry, so much guidance, discipleship, and prayer are needed to prepare them for the future.


The Lord is so gracious in His care for me. He keeps affirming I am doing what He has called me to do, and there is sweet satisfaction in that. I am impressed with Him everyday!

 

Much grace to you,

Greg

 

April 4, 2010

Hello beloved! What a wonderful day to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior! Everyday is good to do that, every Sunday is good to do that, but Easter reminds us of the great power of God. He is able, amen? He is able to defeat sin, death, hell, the grave, and every enemy that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.  He has won, is winning, and will win! I rejoice in the triumph of the gospel of Jesus Christ in every time zone of the world.

We had a wonderful Easter morning worship service at Midtown Church. The Lord blessed us with about 40 people in attendance, some attending for the first time ever, but all of them (with one exception) are new to the Midtown Church in just the past 5 weeks. My fellow pastor Todd and I have been ministering among the community of Loring Heights, meeting the residents, and praying that God will give us favor with the people, which He seems to be doing. Praise Him!  We have been meeting people, explaining who we are, what the Lord has called us to do, and that the new church will be community-involved, will be a neighbor to our neighbors, determined to have a positive influence on Midtown by promoting the kingdom of God.  We pray Midtown Church will be known as a welcoming congregation where people are loved and wanted.

This week, we are re-launching Midtown Church and laying out a clear vision for the church, modeled on the church of Antioch from Acts 13. Our desire is that Midtown Church will reach people for Christ, disciple new believers, equip believers to do the work of ministry, train godly leadership, then release believers to do the will of God. Todd and I are praying that the Lord will make Midtown Church a church-planting launching point for the city, and that we will measure kingdom success solely by our sending capacity and not our seating capacity.  That is our focus of prayer and preparation this week, as we re-launch the church and cast a vision that people can embrace and invest their lives in because they see that this is of God.  We will continue to have one Sunday morning worship service.  We have one midweek men’s Bible study group, which we are praying will multiply into three in the near future.  Todd and I have divided responsibilities, such that Todd will be the primary preacher/teacher on Sunday (with me preaching occasionally), both of us working together in outreach to the community, and my primary focus will be on discipling the men of the church in the ways of the Lord, and those of you who know me well know that is the kind of thing that makes my heart beat fast!  So while I will not be preaching with the same frequency as I did in the past, I am very satisfied with God’s will for me in this new ministry. 

Todd and his wife Barbie have a couple’s social that meets every two weeks, and they are praying that the Lord will enable them to offer a monthly couple’s seminar/retreat/social to strengthen marriages and families. As I observed in Toombs County, I have noticed even more clearly in Atlanta that the number one evangelistic tool the Lord gave His church, marriage….godly marriage, has fallen into almost complete disuse in the church of God as a means to advance the gospel and win souls to Jesus Christ. So, we are praying that the Lord will give us an opportunity to grow some married couples in their walk with the Lord and show the world the great love of Christ, how He loves the church and gave Himself for her, by having husbands love their wives and give themselves away sacrificially for them, and having wives who complement and complete their husbands in their walk with God, and husbands and wives discipling their own children. That, my friends, is the true church of God at work in our world.  We have alot of administrative details still to work through to transition from the old Midtown Church to the new Midtown Church, but considering how great God is, these things are really small. We will honor God if we make sure those small things never become big things. 

I am also working with a team of people called the Urban Atlanta Great Commission Implementation Team; that’s a mouthful huh? We have begun the task of praying to God, and doing homework about how a church planting movement might begin in Atlanta among all the condos, apartment complexes, and gated communities. To reach this city for Christ, a large component of a church planting movement will be the formation of house churches and cell groups.  Traditional church planting models involving a building/place to meet with a sign outfront reading “church” are part of a church planting movement, but only a small part, financial considerations being a major barrier to acquiring property, etc.  A church planting movement is far beyond the planting of new churches, it is an amazing work of the Holy Spirit where churches are rapidly multiplying, flexible, informal, efficient. A church is planted, grows, matures the believers, and sends them out quickly to plant another church. So 1 becomes 2 becomes 4 becomes 8 becomes 16, etc. Sounds like the Book of Acts, huh? Well, it is!  Nothing we do can make a movement like that happen, but there are things we can do to promote it, and there are certainly things we must avoid and pray against that can insure such a movement like that does not happen. I look forward to sharing our progress with you, especially considering that I live in one of these condos that is secure, and if you don’t live here, you can’t get in here. We are praying that God will similarly plant Christians in places like this all over the city.

OK….OK….that update may be enough for now. I don’t want to wear you down in one email.  I thank you for your prayers and partnership in this ministry. Our cooperation together is so very precious to me. God gets the glory, and we get the joy.  I don’t know about you, but I will take that deal everyday for the rest of my life down here.

Much, much, much grace to you!

Greg

P.S. Our church website is www.midtownchurch.com   It is up and running; not much on it yet. It is still rough, we have more work to do, but it will be a way for you to keep up with Midtown Church in the future.

Also, don’t forget to keep up with my fellow church planters in Atlanta known as the Urban Atlanta Church Planters, at www.uacp.net

 

February 6, 2010

Hey y’all!  The Lord has shown me the starting point for my ministry in Atlanta.  I had a meeting last week with Jim Haskell, director of Urban Atlanta Church Planting/UACP and Todd Briggs, a church planter already ministering in the city.  We discussed an opportunity where I will partner with Todd to plant two new churches at Loring Heights (on Deering near Northside Drive) and Hills Park (between Howell Mill and Moores Mill roads).  There is no gospel presence there.  Two former churches in those neighborhoods (Midtown Church and Hills Park Baptist Church) have ceased to function, however, both facilities have been turned over to the UACP to use for church planting.  I am praying much about this partnership, and excited about the opportunity. Todd is a man of God, loves the Lord, and a solid Bible conservative.  PTL!!!!!  He has the heart to reach the city for Christ, to reproduce Christ and multiply the ministry, and to equip believers to go into the world.  We are already talking about our missions emphasis for the coming year.  I have a real sense of calling, both a driving burden and re-assuring peace, to partner in this effort.  Surprisingly, I have few expectations of how my future ministry in Atlanta will take form; I am trying to remain flexible under the Spirit’s Lordship.  I don’t want my narrow and limited vision to hinder God’s call and best plans for me. 

I want you to know how the Lord is leading and also to thank you for your encouragement, support, and prayers.  I’m still working on finding a place to live in Atlanta; some progess, but nothing definite yet.  Since God is never in a hurry, I need not worry, amen?

Grace to you,
Greg

Hello to all my family and friends! I am writing to let you know about an amazing new direction in my life. I know that word of mouth can spread news rapidly, but not always accurately, so I wanted to share this information with you so that you will know what is happening with me.

After 11 years of joyful ministry, I resigned as pastor of the South Thompson Baptist Church tonight (Sunday night). I love the church, the community, and the people, and to leave is difficult. There are no negatives that have caused this. In Baptist circles that’s shocking, huh? I am well, and the church is well. The Lord has truly blessed the church and is using it to a make a kingdom difference in the world. I have been privileged and honored to have served this people. I promised years ago that I would never leave of my own choosing, either the church would throw me out or carry me out in a box, but otherwise the Lord would have to call me to a new ministry, which He has.

I would enjoy pastoring this people for many more years, but that is no longer God’s plan for me. For some time, the Lord has burdened my heart for the lost city of Atlanta. I lived there and went to college at Tech in the 80s. I never liked the city, and never had any desire to return until the Lord began to work on my heart. Atlanta is growing again; it is re-populating rapidly, but it is as spiritually lost as any city the apostle Paul encountered in his days on earth. That makes me very sad to think that in a state where there are so many great churches that our largest city is 90-95% lost and unchurched (inside the perimeter of I-285). Early next year, I plan to return to Atlanta to join with other Christians who are planting the gospel of Jesus Christ in the city again, and wherever the gospel is planted, the Lord will plant His church.

I am very encouraged and eager to do this, which also confirms the Lord’s leading in my life to have me excited to go back to a city I never wanted to return. For those of you who know me well and my personality, you know that I am an organizer and a detailed planner, but I am way out of my comfort zone with this and yet very much at peace with it. I do not know specifically which area of the city I will begin my ministry. I do not know where I will be living. I do not know what kind of work I will do while there. Because of the start-up nature of small church plants and not wanting to be a burden, I will return to the workforce to support myself. All I can do is obey the Lord and trust Him to take care of the details in His time.

I appreciate your prayers as I begin this transition, and I ask you to pray for the South Thompson church as it transitions to its next pastor and ministry direction. The church has an incredible future, if you doubt that, it is because you haven’t read the last four chapters of the Bible lately. This church will always be dear to my heart and will be my “home” church. South Thompson has many gifted and godly believers, and this is another growing opportunity for the church to be what God would have it to be and to do His will in reaching the world for Christ. I am convinced that God will use the believers of South Thompson to do far more in His name than my little mind can imagine. I believe that in the years to come South Thompson will be even more effective and winsome as Christ’s witnesses to the world.

Change is never easy. Our nature is to shun and fear change, but I look forward to being used by the Lord in the future, which is all that matters to me. I can’t write everything or express all my thoughts in an email, but these are the important matters. I look forward to speaking with all of you in due time, so that you can hear from me how the Lord brought this about. Until then, glory to His name and grace to you all!

Greg