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One of the greatest blessings of my life has been the opportunity to revitalize a church. It has been such a blessing that it is our vision for Emmanuel Church moving forward. Our goal is to continue to add campuses as God gives us the opportunity. The reason is that we want to see lighthouses continue to spread the Good News of the Gospel. 

We believe that our multi-site model is the greatest way we can resource these struggling churches. God has given us such unity and engagement in our amazing project in Grand Blanc, which was our first campus. It’s been thrilling, yet I will tell you that it hasn’t come without its challenges.  

Like any church that needs revitalization, Great Lakes Baptist Temple was void of passion, people, and prosperity. There was no vision, and so when we came in to help, it started from ground zero.  

What I didn’t realize was how expensive it was going to be. We thought we had a general idea of what it was going to cost, but that was before we realized that the roof was going to cost over $100,000 for starters. What I am trying to say is that we had no clue.  

With that said, Jehovah-Jirah is our God, and He more than provided. I have watched people sacrifice in ways that I never dreamed possible. People are giving of their time, talent, and treasure to help our campus in Grand Blanc, Michigan, succeed. Our association, the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches’ Generate was very helpful as well with grants that made the transition that much easier. We are very grateful for the partnerships that have made this project possible. 

Another challenge has been raising up enough volunteers to properly staff all of what we are looking to accomplish. Like any “new” church, you are starting from a small pool of volunteers. Because of this reality, our central leadership team has made it a priority to develop a coaching network. Each one of our pastors and staff members is being challenged every week to “reproduce” himself or herself in someone for ministry.  

That became a reality when our Children’s Pastor successfully trained our current Campus Director in Grand Blanc. With forward thinking, I am currently collaborating with a couple of men at Emmanuel who are high-level leaders in their businesses for the development of a leadership program and curriculum for our church. Despite the challenge of leadership, God continues to provide for both of our campuses. He is faithful. We are his success. 

In the two years since we launched our Grand Blanc campus, we have seen God work in amazing ways. From an average of 30 people to an average of 150 people, God is on the move in the greater Grand Blanc area. We’ve seen people baptized, marriages restored, and people cared for in amazing ways.  

Since the first time we launched, we have hired an office administrator, campus director (soon to be campus pastor), and the GARBC’s very own, Manning Brown as our pastor of operations overseeing both campuses’ physical needs. This fall, we started Upward Basketball & Cheerleading in our Grand Blanc campus with over 100 participants. Together with our Flint campus, we are serving 350 kids and their families every weekend. Please pray that God will draw these families unto himself through this ministry. In the fall, we intend to launch a Wednesday night program. 

As we move forward, the challenges remain great, but our God is so much greater! Being a part of seeing a church pass from death to life is the most exhilarating experience that I have ever had in ministry. Every healthy church should seek to either revitalize a church, start a campus, or plant a church. God has promised to bless the local church, and we must obey his commands. 

John has been the lead pastor of Emmanuel Church in Flint, Michigan, since August of 2012. Before that time, he served as a youth pastor for 17 years. He is a graduate of Maranatha Baptist University. He has been married for almost 25 years to Tami, and they have three kids. He is a huge fan of the Detroit Red Wings, and the 2023 National Champion, Michigan Wolverines.

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