Church Highlight: New Branch Community Church
Your name: Ken Rucker Your spouse and children’s names: Susan Rucker; Aubrey (21), Andrew (19), David (15), Jonathan (15) – all boys!
Name of your church: NewBranch Community Church
Location of church: Dacula, GA
Date church was planted (if your church is a plant): January 2008
Name of partnering church(es): Does this mean sending church? If so, none.
What are the reasons you decided to plant a church in your city (if your church is a plant)?
Dacula is a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. Although we’re in the “Bible Belt”, only 45% of the population of our county of 810,000 people claim any affiliation with any religion. Of that, less than 30% claim affiliation with any Christian denomination. In addition, among those who do claim to be Christian, there is a veneer of Christianity that deludes many into thinking they are right with God when they are not. They know the right things to say and they know the right way to act, but they’ve never experienced the grace of God. All of this results in a state of lostness that is vast, albeit sometimes undercover. God has planted NewBranch in the middle of this lostness in order to proclaim Good News to its captives.
What have you seen the Lord do in and through your church/church plant?
Over the last 8 ½ years we have experienced growth from about 10 families in 2008 to currently about 165 people. We’ve been able to help start churches locally, nationally, and internationally, as well as send families out from us as missionaries and church planters. God has been so gracious and kind to us as we have walked with Him through some trying times as a church family. We are so grateful for the Lord’s guidance and protection!
What do you hope to see the Lord do in and through your church in the future?
We have just signed a contract to purchase our first permanent facility, and are looking forward to putting down roots in our community. We want to utilize this building as a tool to help us accomplish our mission of “glorifying God by making disciples of all nations”. We are working to help our members see themselves as God’s appointed missionaries to the community around us. We want to see each member invest relationally in the lives of the people where they live, work, and play, and then leverage those relationships for kingdom influence through Gospel-conversations. Additionally, we see ourselves as an Antioch-type church. Not a destination church, but a sending outpost, where leaders and servants are developed and then deployed to other churches and mission fields outside of our four walls.
What advice do you have for current or future church planters?
- Be willing to spend the rest of your life in the community (and among the people) to whom God has sent you. Wherever He sends you, be vested for the long haul.
- As you work tirelessly to plant and grow your church, shepherd your family well. It’s cliché but true, you will never pastor your church well if you’re not pastoring your family well first. The drift towards complacency on the home front is subtle but real. Be watchful!
- Resist the urge to focus on attractional outreach events and activities. I’m not totally against movie nights and festivals (we’ve done them too), but don’t make them the bread & butter of your methodology. Focus early on “being the church” and teach and model for your church how to live as a missionary in your community.
- Keep your focus on the Gospel and the Great Commission. Your church exists to “make disciples”, but that mission can very easily fall victim to pet projects and personal agendas. Guard against that with your life!
- Share the leadership burden. Identify and install lay elders early in your ministry. The longer you are the sole burden-bearer, the more likely you will collapse under it’s weight.
What else would you like to share with the readers of our blog?
I want to encourage you to financially support The Pillar Network. This network has been a tremendous blessing to our church. The relationships we’ve forged and the counsel we’ve received as we’ve sought to be a church-planting church has been tremendous. Although we support three individual churches within the network, we consider our giving to the Pillar Network general fund to be a strategic long term investment in church planting in North America. I want to encourage you to lead your church to adopt a similar giving strategy.
What are your 3-4 main prayer requests?
- The impending purchase of a building (we should close on the loan in October)
- For our folks to grow in their faithfulness to live as missionaries in our community
- Our church plant in Boston (Redeeming Grace Church, Arlington, MA) launches next month!