As I shared last month, we have been considering the opportunity to add a sixth campus in Cleveland, TN. You can catch up on the conversation by reading this previous article: A Cleveland Possibility?
Our Elders have discerned the leading of the Lord to accept Cleveland Church as a campus of RBCC! We celebrate the opportunity God has given us in yet another city to connect people from all walks of life to life in Christ. This truly is at the core of who we are as a multisite church seeking to Live Sent.
How did our Elders make this decision?
Our elders discerned that this is the type of opportunity that fits who we are as a church. Another way of saying this, is that this possibility in Cleveland did not feel like we were trying to fit a round peg in a square hole; it was not forced. Instead, the more the Elders prayed and looked at this, the more we sensed God’s providence in it.
The goal of strengthening the Church (big ‘C’ church):
The Cleveland possibility fits a pattern we see in Acts. Acts describes the spread of the Gospel outside of Jerusalem and to the Gentiles as Jesus foretold (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). As churches are established in Acts, we also see Paul’s commitment to “strengthen” those churches (Acts 9:31; 14:22; 15:32; 15:41; 16:5; 18:23). So Acts details the spread of the Gospel and the strengthening of the local church. Paul wrote 13 letters in the New Testament and the purpose of the vast majority of them is to strengthen a local church.
We see the Cleveland opportunity as a way to strengthen an existing church that hopefully results in more spreading of the Gospel and more disciples of Jesus. This aligns with our core value of “We are Kingdom-seekers.”
The people and leadership
The Gospel creates incredible unity because of Jesus’ ability to unify diverse groups of people around His throne (Revelation 7:9). However, our staff and elders sensed a special chemistry and the potential for incredible unity with the people and leadership of Cleveland Church. Since one of our core values is “We Are One,” we wanted to ensure we could functionally be one with this group of people. From vision to values to doctrine and beliefs, we share a collective heartbeat with these brothers and sisters gathered in Cleveland.
Our Kingdom Ambition
Paul shared a holy ambition to take the Gospel to Spain (Romans 15:20-21), so we believe having goals that align with God’s purposes and are for His glory are good resolves and worthwhile commitments. God has given us some degree of favor to have congregations in small towns and cities, and He has burdened us to see 10,000 people connected to life in Christ—growing as His disciples. The Cleveland Church possibility became an opportunity to pursue these holy goals and ambitions.
What Happens Next?
At this point, the Cleveland Church is still operating under the name, “Cleveland Church” but is “engaged” to Rock Bridge. In a sense, we are now planning for the wedding and marriage. There are still conversations to be had and decisions to be made. We will create a timeline that outlines a process for the merger to take place with wisdom.
Through the merger process, we will work to align our language and ministries, unify their finances into ours, bring them into our Georgia-based non-profit corporation (legal merger), and eventually start to share the same messages, name, and disciple-making & Gospel-spreading strategies.
In the meantime, please pray this over our church:
“…we always pray for you that our God will make you worthy of His calling, and by His power fulfill your every desire to do good and your work produced by faith, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified by you, and you by Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
[2 Thessalonians 1:11-12, CSB]