GC Featured in the Flyer

13 12 2007

Entire article here.

Home Grown

Grace Church, pastored by Jordan Thomas, Bryan Smith, and Nathan Sawyer, holds services at Bridges.
Justin Fox Burks

Local men “plant” evangelical church in Uptown.

Jordan Thomas, Bryan Smith, and Nathan Sawyer aren’t interested in building a megachurch.

Since beginning Grace Church last year, the pastors have gained a following of more than 30 members.

“That’s exceeded our expectations at this point,” Thomas says. “I honestly thought that the first several months we’d be in my living room, and it would hold what? 15?”

The living room in question is in a cozy new house on Mill, near Greenlaw Circle.

About four years ago, the trio began thinking about planting a new church. They were all from the Memphis area, having lived in West Memphis, Millington, Olive Branch, and Bartlett. Then, in 2005, Thomas attended a church-planter program in Minnesota.

“The one thing we were waiting for was another church that would bless the effort and say, hey, this seems like the Lord’s at work, not just some crazy guys,” Thomas says. “They said they would be really happy with any major city in the United States.”

The next challenge was to find a location.

“We saw how close Uptown was to the river and how close it was to the downtown population,” Smith says. “Uptown was being revitalized. Plus Midtown is right there. It became obvious to us that this is where we needed to plant.”

The trio also noted that most of the evangelical churches had migrated east, while the downtown population was rebounding.

“There are a lot of people and not many churches,” Thomas says. “I don’t know if that’s profound or not, but it was obvious.”

Even without its own building, the church has become a part of the community. Services are held at the nearby Bridges building. Over the summer, the men did a kids’ Bible study every Sunday night in Greenlaw Park, and Thomas’ house has become one of the neighborhood kid hangouts.

“I have four children,” he explains.

But for a group that isn’t interested in a megachurch, their followers are definitely following their lead. Both Smith and Thomas have moved to Uptown, and Sawyer is planning to move there. Out of the church’s 30 members, five other families have already moved into the neighborhood, as well.

“We never said we think everybody should move here,” Smith says. “They knew this was where we are going to plant and that we plan to impact the community. Part of that is moving into the community, and I think people have just felt that.”




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13 12 2007


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