Sharon, SC & Catawba Presbytery

I had a good trip on Tuesday. Robbie M. and I fueled ourselves with fresh Senseo coffee and went to Sharon ARP Church for the spring meeting of Catawba Presbytery.  Sharon is about 20 minutes outside of York, SC.  I used to pass through quite often when I commuted from Rock Hill to Due West.

It was interesting to see some of the changes around York County.  Rev. McLurkin playfully boasted that even tiny Sharon is seeing a boom, as they recently got a Dollar General.

The meeting itself ran smoothly, with the most significant debate arising over some church planter/church planting opportunities.  In my short history with Catawba Presbytery (since 2002) I've seen only "parachute drop" style  church plants where a mission developer will move to a community and begin the hard work of starting a church.  He has 3-4 years to make it before funding runs out.  It is tough work, and can quickly lead to burn out.

At yesterday's meeting, we approved one Pastor to be a "Resident Evangelist." He'll resign from his current Associate Pastor position in Rock Hill, but rather than moving to a new town he'll begin work just down the road with a group he's already connected with.  He is doing so with his Church's blessing.  One pastor raised a great question, "Why not just get these people involved with your current church instead of trying to start a new one?"  Churches have their own personalities, and it can be a challenge to blend two disparate groups.  In this case, the group is a collection of artists, students, and quarter-lifers who don't always fit within an average church.

Another pastor we approved for a church planting opportunity will be going to Texas, his home state, to plant a church with a group he's served in the past.  He'll be back in his hometown, serving some familiar faces, and stretching the reach of the ARP in an area not yet served.  It's great to be getting another church in Texas, and I hope it is just a matter of time before Synod will establish a new presbytery there.  Right now, the Texas churches are affiliated with the SC based Catawba Presbytery-- hardly a convenient trip to make!

I mentioned that there was significant discussion, especially in regard to the Rock Hill "Resident Evangelist."  One point of contention was that there seemed to be some miscommunication between several parties, namely a group seeking to plant several churches in York County who didn't have the full story with the Resident Evangelist.  I was comfortable voting for the new ministry, as I see how it will differ from our usual model.  In short, there is room for both.  The miscommunication is worth addressing, but I didn't feel that it should affect the vote.

I hope the potential for a successful church plant will be greatly enhanced since both of these men already have strong connections with their respective communities.  It seems to me like this is a very organic way of planting churches, and a worthwhile model to consider.  Our presbytery has lost several plants (and planters) over the years, and it's no surprise.  The last time I checked 80%-85% of church plants fail within the first 5 years.  A variety of models for church planting has some value.


  1. Thanks for the news out of Catawba Presbytery, Brian. It is always nice to hear what is going on around the ARP!

  2. Thanks, Seth! Hope all is well in CA!


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