Our Path to Church Planting in Richfield
In this post, I’m going to attempt to answer the question: “How did the church planting partnership between you and Eden Baptist develop?”
As is often the case for God’s people, our path toward this endeavor has not exactly been a straight and simple one, but here are a few of the key points of that journey.
Beginning in 2005, I had the privilege of being part of a new church in Norway, Michigan. For the next ten years, God used this church to grow me and my family not only in our ministry experience but also in our understanding of the centrality of the local church in God’s plan for the world.
During this time in the Upper Peninsula, I also had the privilege of serving at Northland International University on the Bible faculty for nine years. One of the many blessings of those years was having the opportunity to get to know Rich Penix (now an elder at Eden) very well when he was a graduate student at Northland, to teach several students from Eden Baptist who attended Northland, and to start developing friendships with men like Jon Pratt and Dan Miller, who both were elders at Eden Baptist who had children attending Northland.
From 2013–2015, there were many ups and downs both at Northland and at our local church that I do not need to detail here. But as 2014 was drawing to a close, we had great optimism for both Northland, with its emerging partnership with Southern Seminary, and for our church, which had been through much pastoral transition in the previous few years.
But our plans were simply not God’s plans. God had different plans for Northland, our church, and our family. In February 2015, our church closed. Two months later and very unexpectedly, Northland announced its closure. At the organizational level at least, it seemed that most of what we had been investing in for the previous decade was gone in an instant.
Yet it was through these events that we began to look for a church where we could attend for a short time while I would work to finish my Ph.D. dissertation. Given the connections I mentioned previously, one of the first churches that came to mind was Eden Baptist. Within about one month of the closure of Northland, God had opened the doors for our family to move to the Twin Cities to join in at Eden Baptist. One key aspect of how that happened was God’s provision of a very affordable place for us to live right in the center of a place called Richfield, on the property of a former church that Eden Baptist had previously sought to help revitalize.
When we came, we thought our time in the Twin Cities would be brief. We anticipated I would return to full