This past week has been the public communication of something that has been happening in our hearts for years and now even behind the scenes for months. The communication timeline has had me tell our My lead pastor, our church administrator, our pastoral staff, our Elder’s, our student leaders, Student Ministry volunteers, my small group, and finally our students and parents this last Wednesday. It’s a bittersweet time for us that has been tiring to navigate, but I am excited to finish well and look forward to what God has called us to. The letter below is the best way I could consolidate and communicate all the information about our transition. It won’t answer every question, so I’ll do my best to tie up any other loose ends at the bottom
Friends, Family, and Grace Church,
I recently notified the Pastors, Staff, elders, and adult volunteers that this will be my last school year on staff at Grace Church. This summer Kristin and I are transitioning to plant a church in Hilliard, Ohio. This is not a rushed decision or one that we take lightly, but rather the public announcement of something God has been doing in our hearts for years.
We moved to Powell seven years ago and have been blessed to minister among a truly great church family and staff. We have made wonderful friends and a home that existed only in our dreams. Grace Church has treated our family with the utmost honor and we will always view on our time here with fondness. You have cared for us as individuals, a couple, and a family more than we deserved and you are to be commended for it. Professionally, personally, and financially we could have made this our home forever, were it not for the Holy Discontent God has stirred in our hearts.
Since I was in middle school I have felt a strong draw to church planting. Before I started dating Kristin at age 17 I told her that I intended to be in full time ministry first as a student pastor and then as a church planter to make sure we were passionate about the same direction. We first met with Grace Brethren church planting coaches when we were in our second year of college to educate ourselves on the process.
It has been a blessing to be in an environment where church planting was always talked about. We haven’t had to hide it. As I interviewed at Grace Church I shared with Pastor Rick and the staff that I was excited about ministering with them and also expected to someday plant a church. It has been exciting to be in a context where other churches have been planted and to watch that process give birth. Over the years we have talked through this with the staff and Pastor Rick has even mentioned it to the elders.
Those closest to us know that this has always been on our hearts, and we now see God’s confirmation to take action. It wasn’t one specific event, but just the culmination of prayer, time in the Word, blogs, books, conferences, and conversations. Everywhere we have looked we have seen God calling us to plant a church.
The first question people will ask is where this leaves our student ministry, so I want you to know a few things from me personally. We are not a student ministry of one person. We have multiple programs and ministries that happen consistently without me every week and they will not skip a beat with faithful servant leaders involved. Our church has always had a strong youth ministry before me and will continue to have one after me because it is the heart and vision of our pastor and leadership. I also want you to know that I care very much about our student ministry and I intend to work alongside the group that has been named to find my replacement and give input into the process. I am very confident in the direction that our student ministries are headed and know that with the right hire, things are positioned for growth and breakthrough
I will remain on staff until August 1st or earlier in the summer if the elders find my replacement, but in the coming months we will be moving and transitioning to Hilliard so that we can begin to build relationships. We want to selfishly ask for your prayers. This is an exciting, joyful time one minute and a terrifying faith walk the next. We need the support and encouragement of our church body to do this. We know this will come as a surprise or letdown to some, but we want our lives to be about what God has called us to, so we hope people will see that and celebrate it with us.
Many will ask what the next steps in this process are, so let me outline the months ahead. I will remain fully engaged in ministry at Grace Church until the transition date this summer. We will not start meeting with our launch team until next fall and hope to publically launch as a church on Easter in 2013.
We are in the process of putting together the foundation of our new church. Our mother church and accountability through this process will be Encounter Church and its elders. We will gather a launch team of people who are passionate about reaching Hilliard with the gospel and seeing a church birthed. This will be done by living in and building relationships in the community. We are also raising one time startup funds and monthly commitments from organizations, partner churches (one of which is Grace Church) and individuals. Those things along with administration (documents, tax free status, websites, PO Box) and continuing in student ministry here will fill my days and weeks.
If you want to talk more and/or stay connected with us, we would love to sit down and share what God is doing in our hearts. As always, you can do that through my blog markartrip.com, facebook, and twitter (@markartrip). I could never begin to tell or show you this side of heaven what Grace Church has meant to the Artrip family, so I hope you know the love and sincerity behind my THANK YOU. We love you.
Mark, Kristin, Malachi, and Canaan Artrip
1) How did you pick Hilliard?
I will elaborate on this more later and will publish our proposal we will be presenting to people, but the short story is that we see great need there and have research showing that Hilliard is spiritually hungry and ripe for the church we intend to be.
I answered that above but the short version is that I have spoken into that process with a very capable search committee and they are already contacting, meeting with, and looking for the next person. The job description is posted here if you or someone you know might be a fit.
3) What has God been up to in the last couple months?
I can’t even tell you how we have seen God affirm this since we finally stepped out on faith.
August – We were assessed as church planters in but didn’t know the when or where. We just prayed that God would open doors and make it obvious.
September – We were approached by Encounter Church with a timeline that was the ideal one Kristin and I had privately dreamed of. That was the first sign that God was waiting on our obedience.
Two days after deciding to do this we were given a substantial financial gift toward our new church.
January – We put our house on the market knowing that we wanted to move and it would take a while in this economy to sell a home. We sold our house in 8 days and it only took that long because the couple was traveling and wanted to walk through a few times. The couple who bought it walked through the first day and told us they would buy it.
We have found another great home in Hilliard which will make a great house to plant a church out of and we can see God’s fingerprints guiding both transactions. We will sell/buy on February 17th.
4) Who is overseeing this and sending you?
Encounter Church is a church that Grace Church planted in 2008. That have a hyper Canadian-American pastor named Sean Spoelstra. Encounter has had a goal to plant another church since they started. We will be that church that they have wanted to reproduce themselves in and invest their DNA into. Grace Church will be involved relationally, prayerfully, and financially as well as other churches and organizations and individuals.
5) What is the name of your church? The name will be Movement Church. Our vision is to be a movement of people finding their way back to God. I love the word movement and the double meaning of a person taking steps toward God and also a group of people acting out contagious, intentional action. I will put much more up later in the proposal I already alluded to and will link to our website and all the social media stuff, but today is just about the transition….more to come.
Please pray for our family, Grace Church, and the many pieces of our new church still coming together.