How God Helped Our Church Planting Group Retreat

How God Helped...BPFI

For three days last week, I led a retreat for Sovereign Grace’s National Church Planting Group. After adding Jeremy Oddy to our mix, this group also includes Andy Farmer, Mike Seaver, Chris Daukas, Ricky Alcantar, and Greg Dietrich.

This morning, I sent this great team an email summarizing what God did among us during our time together. I have excerpted part of that letter below for your joy and encouragement.

I am overflowing with gratitude to God and you men for what we enjoyed and accomplished together last week. As if being rescued from our sins and blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ were not enough, we get to serve Jesus together for the sake of the gospel in our local churches and on behalf of our family of churches. God’s grace is so stunning! I wanted to take a few moments to remind us of how God met with us and used a bunch of insignificant servants to do some significant work last week.

I want to draw your attention to how we began the retreat asking God to bless us that we might be a blessing. We called out to God from Psalm 67 to be gracious to us, to bless us, and to make His face to shine upon us so that His saving power might be made known among neighborhoods and nations that need the Savior. We marveled that God is eager to bless us not as an end but as a means to make the gospel known everywhere. This moved us to pray and ask the Father to bless us out of the abundance of blessing that is already ours by grace through Jesus.  I believe the Father blessed us tremendously.

Prayer is not simply a prelude to mission; it is at the heart of mission. I believe our times of prayer each morning were the most significant moments of our retreat. We came out of them having met with God and everything flowed from there. Here are some observable blessings from our time:

1) We are much closer to completing our “Guidelines and Best Practices for Church Adoption.”

2) We outlined and prepped for final copy writing our Guidelines and Best Practices for Church Planting.”

3) We saw clear direction for our new Church Planter Assessment tool which will serve as the basis for our recruiting, coaching, and training.

4) We collaborated about potential church planting and mission events.

5) We watched the epically horrible 76ers lose to the pathetic Bucks, but at NO cost because we got FREE tickets 13 rows from the court, not to mention that we got our pictures taken on the hardwood. Also, don’t forget that I caught a t-shirt out of the cannon! (You can see us on the court in the picture below.)

6) We went to some of my favorite local spots in NE Philly.

God blessed us! And let’s remember, He blessed us so that we might be a blessing for the sake of gospel mission. Let’s expect God to use the fruit of our retreat to bless our churches that already exist and the ones that do not exist yet—all for His glory!

As Ricky tweeted on his way home from the retreat, “We asked, Jesus answered. Let’s get after it.”

Thank you for praying for our work at Sovereign Grace!


Ian is Sovereign Grace's Director of Church Planting and Mission. He also serves as the lead pastor of Grace City Church in Northeast Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Ian and his wife, Rachel, have three children.