Serve Medford 2013


This Saturday a team of 10 from NewBranch will fly up to Boston, MA (Medford, to be exact) for Serve Medford 2013. Serve Medford is a week long outreach of Redemption Hill Church to the local community. There will be a lot going on during the week, which means a lot to pray for. Here is a list:

NewBranch Team:

Dawn Koehler, Alex Koehler, Griffin Holloway, Lori Bleth, Brandon Mitchell, Reece Nobles, Kevin Sanders, Tim Sherwood, Bowdie Jenkins, and Ken Rucker.

Churches Participating and Their Travel:

  • Cave Spring Baptist Church, Roanoke, VA
  • Crosspoint Church, Clemson, SC
  • FBC Pickens, SC
  • FBC Owensboro, KY
  • New Branch Community Church, Dacula, GA
  • Renewal Church, Greenville, SC
  • Ridgecrest Baptist Church, Durham, NC

Ministry Opportunities: 

  • 8-9 Medford Parks (cleanup/construction and engaging families)
  • Kids Camp at Willis Ave.
  • Programming and Cleaning/Organizing at the Boys and Girls Club
  • Serve local businesses in Medford Square (cleaning, organizing, construction)
  • Give away 10,000 invites to Redemption Hill Church (T and Bus stops)
  • Hang 2000 door hangers inviting the community to Community Fun Night
  • Give away 5,000 invites to Community Fun Night**
  • ESL Class at Willis Ave.
  • Community Fun Night on 8/2/13 (last year we had over 700 people come)
  • Boldness among all of the teams to clearly display and declare the gospel. Pray that we would all live that week (and every week to come) with eyes wide open to the physical and spiritual needs of those around us and engage as the Spirit provides the opportunity.

NewBranch And Boston

This mission trip is unique for NewBranch as we prepare to send my family to Greater Boston to plant a church. Our projected timeline for departure is Spring 2015. This trip provides the opportunity for our church to catch the vision for church planting in Boston and serve alongside an existing church plant. For more information on church planting in Boston, visit the SEND Boston page over at NAMB.

Thank you in advance for all of your prayers. We can’t wait to get back and share testimonies of what God did during Serve Medford.

Stay updated via Twitter during the week by following pastors @kenrucker and @knsanders


Why My Wife Has Re-entered the Workplace

Today is Friday, August 17th, and while I’m recovering from an annoying case of vertigo, I have been reflecting on a decision my wife and I made about a month ago.  This afternoon my wife, Susan, will come home from her first week of teaching 2nd grade at a nearby school, the first job she has had outside the home in 17 years.  She is tired and yet she is excited about how the Lord is using her.

Not that she hasn’t been working.  For the last 17 years she has had the hardest job anyone could have, managing our home.  She has cooked thousands of meals, pushed grocery carts for thousands of miles, wiped noses (and other unmentionable areas of our childrens’ bodies) thousands of times, and picked up a thousand pairs of socks and underwear from the floor.  She has homeschooled all of our four sons at one time or another (none of whom are still in homeschool at present), and managed to transform a houseful of smelly, messy, testosterone-laden boys (present company included) into a home where the grace of God rests.  Oh yes, she has worked.

But this is the first time in 17 years she has worked outside the home.  We consider that to be a gracious blessing to our family.  Not everyone is able to have mom stay at home, but God has been gracious to make this desire a reality for our family.  He certainly required that we make sacrifices to make it work (financially and otherwise), but we don’t for a moment believe that living off of a pastor’s salary in a middle-class suburban context with 4 boys was our doing…no, it was our Sovereign God who made it work, and to Him we are so very grateful for this blessing.

But why the change?  Why now, after all these years is Susan jumping back into the workplace?  Great question!  For us, we always considered this to be part of the plan.  We knew that unless the Lord provided in some other way, Susan would need to get a job at some point in order for us to afford the looming expenses of sending four sons to college (which will begin for us in less than a year).  That provision had not come by the beginning of summer, and so we decided it was time to go ahead and start preparing for her to re-enter the workplace, and I am so proud of what she accomplished in taking courses and getting her Georgia teaching certificate re-certified.  Then, the arduous task of applying for jobs and interviewing.  As God would have it, a precious family friend notified us of a 2nd Grade teaching position at a school 7 minutes from our house.  Susan applied, had 2 interviews in a week, and received an offer the following week.  It all happened so fast, we found ourselves discussing whether or not to accept the offer before we really had an opportunity to pray about whether she should go back to work at all.  We just assumed that was what she was supposed to do.  After all, how else were we going to afford college?

That’s when the Lord urged both Susan and I to pause and pray.   The salary offered to Susan was such that it required us to seek the Lord’s wisdom.  Any lower and we would have been tempted to just decline the offer….after all, her working outside the home was going to have a major impact on our family and it needed to be financially “worth it”.  Conversely, if the offer had been any higher, we would have been tempted to just go ahead and accept it, seeing the higher salary as a “sign from God”.  Instead, the Lord was gracious to make the offer such that we really were forced to bring it to Him for discernment.  So, we brought the decision to the Lord, and He impressed upon both of us that we were looking at this decision from a “financial” perspective, instead of from a “missional” perspective.  This wasn’t a financial decision as much as it was a decision about what God wanted Susan to do with her life…in essence, what was His mission for her?

The real question the Lord caused us to wrestle with was, “Was God calling Susan to be a teacher?”.  If He wasn’t, then no amount of money would be worth her being outside of the will of God.  If He was, then no amount of money should stand in the way of her doing what the Lord was asking of her.  Boy, did that take the pressure off!  We simply needed to know what our Father’s mission was for Susan, and then trust Him with the financially aspect of how it would happen.  Once that became “the decision”, it was a fairly easy decision.  Susan’s heart has always been to teach children.  It’s what the Lord placed on her heart as a young girl, whether it be teaching our own kids in homeschool, teaching children at our church, or teaching in a traditional classroom, the Lord has created her to teach for His glory.  Once we were settled on her mission, the financial aspect of the decision became much easier.  Who were we to decline an opportunity to be engaged in what the Lord made her to do, just because it wasn’t going to completely satisfy all of our financial “wants”?  The Lord has always perfectly provided for us, as He has promised to do.  Were we now going to trust Him in this, or not?  We’ve discovered that after the Lord gives clarity to a decision and makes it more about whether we’re going to trust Him or not, the decisions get easier to make.  Ofcourse we would trust Him.

Now, I will readily admit that this has been an adjustment to our family’s life.  We have all needed to pitch-in and be more helpful around the house, but that has been a good thing.  The boys are learning more responsibility, and we are all looking at this as if our whole family is involved in the mission that the Lord has given to Susan.  And I think that’s pretty cool.

Let me encourage you not to make decisions like this based on the resources available to you, whether it’s time, money, or talents.  Instead, make it a decision based on mission.  Is the Lord asking you to do this…..or not?  And after He answers that question, then all you’ve got to do is trust Him.

Missiologically Thinking » Have You Considered Rhode Island?

Considering our interest in church-planting in New England, and the plans that are developing for sending the Sanders family up there in a couple of years, I thought the following blog post was interesting.  It’s from the blog, “Missiologically Thinking”, and is written by JD Payne, Associate Professor of Church Planting and Evangelism in the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism atThe Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.A. where he directs the Center for North American Missions and Church Planting.


According to Payne, the state of Rhode Island qualifies as an unreached people group:

Missiologically Thinking » Have You Considered Rhode Island?.

New England Church Planting – Vision Trip

I’ve just returned from dropping off Kevin and Lauren at the airport for their first trip up to New England in anticipation of planting a church in that area sometime in 2014.  I am so excited that God is giving us an opportunity as a church to be part of this journey with the Sanders, and I am equally encouraged by their faith and courage to follow the Lord in this endeavor.  (read more about the decision for this church plant here: http://newbranchchurch.wordp

The purpose of this first trip is simply get up into the area and begin praying over the land.  As the Lord has not yet provided specifics regarding the location of the church plant (there are 6 states in New England, not including upstate NY), they will be visiting a few areas and meeting with other church planters and pastors and talking with them about what God is doing in those areas.  Kevin will have a couple of opportunities to preach and Lauren will have some opportunities to talk with other church planter wives and get a mom’s perspective of life in NE.  These opportunities will be invaluable to them as the Lord prepares them for moving into the area in the years ahead.

Please be in pray for Kevin and Lauren.  You can follow them on Twitter at @knsanders, on on Facebook during this trip, but regardless, here are some prayer requests:

  • – safe travel (it is the Northeast, and it is cold, and there is snow…and part of their leg includes a small airplane)
  • – peace about leaving the kids with family and friends
  • – effective ministry (they will join with a mission trip team from Hebron Baptist Church to do servant evangelism)
  • – networking and fruitful conversations (as they meet with other church planter families, etc.)
  • – spiritual guidance (as they pray over the land, and the people who need the Gospel in these areas)
  • – faith (to keep trusting God for provision, discernment, and watch-care over their family as they step out in faith)



Why Church Planting? New England

Part 4 in the series ‘Why Church Planting?’ (Part 1|Part 2|Part 3)

Toward the end of last summer, God began to re-stir a passion in my heart. I was with a group of students from NewBranch at a local missions camp we participate in each year. The last worship service of the camp was a time of intense prayer for each other, for those we had ministered to, and for ourselves.

While asking God to humble me and use me, he made it crystal clear that church planting was my calling. I thought of one of my favorite passages of scripture, Isaiah 6:1-8. After being wrecked by the holiness and grace of God, Isaiah responds to the call. Verse 8 reads:

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”

That was my response to a God who has saved me by his grace through Jesus Christ. “God, wherever you want me to go! Just let me serve you!” After that moment Lauren and I began to talk, think, and pray about where God would have us. Church planting was always a seed in my heart. Now that God had give life to the seed, we felt the urgency of pursuing the process.

New England kept coming up. I had heard of the need in the area from a pastor who left his ‘booming’ church in the Bible belt to pastor in rural Vermont. But to be completely honest, New England? “No way,” I thought. “Surely there are other friendlier and warmer places that need churches.” There are, but when God says “jump” you say “how high?”

On the way to church one Sunday in September, I was praying for clarity on the subject. Heading out west was an idea. Planting locally was an idea. Thankfully, the confirmation of God was undeniable that morning. God is sending us to New England to plant a church.

God is stirring my heart for the least churched area of the nation; a land with such a rich gospel history that is in need of, and hopefully on the verge of, spiritual awakening.

Can I humbly ask you to pray for me and my family? Pray for strength, preparation, discernment, wisdom, etc. Pray for timing. We plan on moving there in 2 1/2-3 years. Will you also commit to pray for New England? Ask how God would have you be a part of taking the gospel these people. Take a few minutes to read How New England Is The New American Missional Frontier by Jared Wilson.

Here are some more resources to help educate you and guide your prayers… (via Jared Wilson)

Why Church Planting, Part 3

(Part 1 | Part 2)

Why Auburn?

Lord willing, in February NewBranch will begin a weekly outreach Bible Study at a trailer park in Auburn, GA with the long-term goal of planting a church. It’s been an incredibly humbling experience to watch God orchestrate all of this.

Ken and I found out about a ministry called StreetWise via a brochure in a coffee shop in Dacula. Not long before that we spent time on a staff retreat seeking the Lord and asking him to bring opportunities to reach out in our community. God answers prayer.

Several members of NewBranch jumped in headlong at StreetWise. One of the needs was for volunteers to pass out food on a weekly basis at a trailer park and an apartment complex in Auburn. A group of us began passing out food, praying for people, sharing the gospel, etc.

After several months of this, StreetWise approached us about starting a Bible study at the trailer park. God, in his I-know-what-I’m-doing-ness, had been leading the leadership of NewBranch in the same direction. Providence.
The need in the area is great: financial problems, family problems, drug problems, medical problems, criminal problems. But the deepest need is the same as always: the Gospel. And the gospel is the power of God for salvation to anyone who believes (Romans 1:16)!

The same gospel that saves you moves you out of your comfort zones to befriend sinners. It’s the same gospel that sends us out to the highways and hedges and compel the poor, cripple, lame, and blind to come in to the great feast that is Jesus (Luke 14:12-24).

You can leave our Sunday morning location and drive to the trailer park in 15 minutes. This is our backyard. This isn’t our Judea-Samaria or our Ends-of-the-Earth, this is our Jerusalem (Acts 1:8). And, according to Jesus Christ, we will be his witnesses.

This is only a brief overview of how God has graciously brought NewBranch to this point. As you hear and read more here and on Sunday mornings, cover this in prayer. Ask God how he would have you serve him in this ministry. Pray that he would break chains, free captives, and save souls for the glory of his name.

Brothers and Sisters

By Lea Ann Sherwood

Not long after I started going to the church I’m now attending I got pretty involved with various ministries inside our congregation.  I was on the worship team, headed up the women’s ministry and did some other things.  As time went on, I really felt that I was spending way too much time working within the church walls.  I truly feel that it’s our call as Christians to leave the church and to go out into the world, but I wasn’t quite sure where God wanted me to go, so I started praying for direction. In the meantime, I kept working.  I must tell you, I never really felt called to work in women’s ministry but I felt like I was to continue working there until I got my answer so I kept praying.  I prayed for years. And then one day I was heading over to do some apartment ministry work with our then student pastor, Kevin. As we were talking, he mentioned a local ministry that reached out to the underprivileged in our community called Streetwise Georgia. I got in touch with them, and have been working with their organization ever since.  My prayer was answered. And, in case your wondering, someone else has stepped up to take over leading our women’s ministry.

Through my work with Streetwise I was introduced to a needy trailer park community in our area.  I have since had the privilege to do some work there.  I pass out food, pray and visit with folks and just get to know people.  God has been at work there and I already have many stories to tell.  But I think one thing that has stood out to me lately has been the way God has allowed me to work alongside my brothers and sisters in Christ.

I went to work in the trailer park area as the lone volunteer from our church. But now there are three adults who work alongside me on a regular basis as well as two students.  There are also two other adults who join as their work schedule permits. Two of those who regularly join in, Dana and Dawn, are busy women. Dana is preparing to be a missionary to Africa (which is a lot of work for those of you who don’t know), and Dawn has thirty-two children at home (I think it may be closer to five, but that would be like thirty-two to me). They enthusiastically work long hours, and we are in frequent contact about how things are going in the area. The other adults who help have full-time jobs but take time out of very busy schedules to regularly deliver food, visit with folks, or help out in any way they can. Two of the men who help have jobs in Atlanta and commute back and forth to work everyday. One of those men is my husband.  The joy I get from serving next to my husband is without compare. The students who volunteer could be home doing homework or whatever it is that young people like to do these days. They all serve joyfully and with thankful hearts. It is an encouragement and joy to work with these brothers and sisters in Christ.

God put it on my heart to pray and my prayers were answered many times over.  He gave me a place to serve, provided me with brothers and sisters in Christ to serve beside, and I’m continually seeing Him at work in the trailer park area. It’s been more than just dropping off food to people. It’s the opportunity to interact with people and to build relationships with them. And that’s something I believe we’re all called to do.  Build relationships with the hurting and the lost. I can’t even begin to tell you how thankful I am for this.

    And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,
(Hebrews 10:24 ESV)

Read Lea Ann’s Blog HERE