September 19, 2012 by
Categories: Articles | Church Updates
We often read stories on the Plant & Build blog of church planters who are getting ready to launch or who have just launched a plant. I am 6.5 years into a church plant. And, I’m as excited about Grace Church as I was in the months leading up to the plant, maybe more so. Back then, I was dreaming about what could be. Now, I am seeing the church proclaim the gospel and mature in Christlikeness.
Just over six years ago, we, along with 140 adults and children, were sent out from Metro Life Church in Casselberry, Florida to plant a church in Southwest Orlando. While some of the people on the plant already lived in Southwest Orlando, there were a number of families that sold homes and relocated with us. The folks that came with us were willing to leave established relationships as well as the opportunities that a large church with its own building afforded, all to further the mission of spreading the gospel.
Metro Life Church was willing to send some of their finest folks – people that served and gave significantly while at Metro. But they gladly sent them with us in order to give us the best possible start as a church. Thanks to their sacrifice, as well as the generous giving of the people on the team, we were able to start the church supporting two full time pastors – myself and my son-in-law, David Traugott. Because of the sacrificial giving of our folks, we were also able to purchase property in our first year. We bought 15 acres of useable land in the middle of a high traffic area of Winter Garden. The property is located around the corner from our local high school and the local outdoor shopping area, which provides for significant visibility.
God has been gracious to us in providing this land. We hope to one day soon have a permanent presence in the Winter Garden area. We have already done all the necessary rezoning and have gained approval to build. Our people continue to give generously so that we might pay off the property. As soon as we can do this and save some money, we will be in a position to begin building. We’d appreciate your prayers to this end.
We’ve grown to 250 members since our beginnings. And since that time God has added Jon Morales to our pastoral team. As I prepared for our pastoral planning retreat recently, I was reminded of the events that brought Jon and his family to the church.
Jon’s wife, Anna, first met another young mother who was attending Grace Church. They met at a park where the young lady told Anna about living in a neighboring city but how she was hoping to move closer to her church for the sake of relationships. Anna was intrigued.
Jon and Anna visited the next Sunday and have been here ever since.
It soon became evident that Jon was a gift to Grace Church. After spending a couple of years serving and learning with us, we sent Jon and his young, growing family to be further trained as a pastor at the Sovereign Grace Pastors College.
At Grace Church we are committed to planting churches with Sovereign Grace Ministries, so we are intentionally investing in training and equipping men for future plants. This is part of the vision as a church and our folks have embraced it wholeheartedly. It is one of the greatest joys of planting a church to see God raise up new leaders like Jon. And stories of God raising up men abound. Another young man with a notable faith story (worthy of its own blog post) is Mike.
Mike came from a difficult background of substance abuse and hard living. A Grace Church member and neighbor to Mike prayed with him about marriage difficulties. He invited Mike to church, and God worked powerfully in his life and marriage.
Today, three years later, he is leading a care group, compassionately serving and caring for others. His marriage is a model of grace and a tool in the hands of our Savior.
These two stories, and many others like them, are evidences of God’s grace and His commitment to build His church. The young mother that invited the Morales family had no idea how God would use that invitation to further His work. The faithful man that reached out to Mike had no way of knowing Mike would be leading a care group in a few years. But both were faithful to share and be used by God.
I keep these stories handy as encouraging reminders when summer vacations affect our attendance numbers or when a particular sermon didn’t go quite the way I would have liked. Stories like these keep me focused on Christ’s commitment to build His church.
Wayne has served as a pastor for over 25 years. For the 10 years prior to the plant of Grace Church, he served as Executive Pastor at Metro Life Church in Casselberry. Prior to joining Metro Life's leadership team, he served for 11 years as a senior pastor in Titusville, Fl. He and his wife Sandie have two married daughters.