God has a funny way of using long-standing relationships to advance his kingdom. It’s amazing what can happen when God puts a partnership together.
This is how Harvest Church in Greenfield, Indiana, has come to form an exciting new relationship with 12Stone in Lawrenceville, Georgia. Known for its generosity in mentoring pastors and offering leadership intensives at its facilities, 12Stone’s leaders have lately been looking for a way to go deeper and more directly partner with an entire church. Enter Harvest.
It all started in the 2004-2006 timeframe when current 12Stone Co-Senior Pastor Jason Berry and current Harvest Pastor Brad LeRoy worked together in Indianapolis. Pastor Jason left for Georgia to join 12Stone around the time Pastor Brad left to plant Harvest. The two have stayed in touch through the years, and Pastor Jason’s brother, Josh, attends Harvest.
Last Labor Day weekend, as Pastors Jason and Brad talked about ministry, 12Stone’s desire to have a more intentional mentoring relationship with a local church, and Harvest’s need for such a relationship, came together. “We are always open to creative partnerships to reach more people for Jesus. The vision and ministry alignment with Brad and Harvest Church, plus the relational chemistry made our partnership a natural one,” said Dan Reiland, Chief of Staff, 12Stone Church.
“You think about past relationships, and you never know how they may play out down the road or what things God may put into motion,” says Pastor Brad. Another connection is that Harvest Worship Leader Josiah Gorveatte is a past 12Stone resident.
After a few phone calls, some Zoom and in-person meetings among church leaders, a relationship was created with these three main benefits for Harvest:
- Video teaching: Harvest uses video teaching already taped by 12Stone from time to time.
- Leadership development: Dan Reiland is Pastor Brad’s leadership and ministry coach. They connect a few times monthly. And now, various leaders of both churches are being connected.
- Resourcing: For example, Harvest is launching “life groups” this month (September) using 12Stone’s curriculum called “Foundations.” The curriculum is about getting back to the basics of faith and what it means to grow in faith.
This partnership is so new — just a couple of months old — that the details are still unfolding. “The support is unbelievable,” says Pastor Brad. “We want to go faster and farther, and to have a resource like 12Stone. … I’m so deeply appreciative of them.”
The benefit to 12Stone is in its desire to create a culture of generosity. Pastor Brad says it is simply in their DNA to help others. “It is healthy for churches to give to other people. They live that out in so many ways.
The partnership comes at a great time for Harvest, which has faced some challenges like other churches during the pandemic. Since its inception in 2007, Harvest at one time was welcoming close to 300 on Sundays, but is now seeing fewer than 200, with others joining online. There have been other ups and downs, such as some past personal medical issues for Pastor Brad that left him with a sense of urgency to make up for lost time. “We’re in a place now where we just want to go and do the work that God has called us to do. We want to move forward. So, this is a very timely partnership.”
When Pastor Brad thinks about how God orchestrated this blossoming relationship starting years ago, he says simply, “I cannot imagine how he (God) does it. He gets all the credit.”
With God and this relationship between 12Stone and Harvest, the sky is indeed the limit for how fast and how far the two may go together.
Jennifer Jones is the district administrator for the South Carolina District of The Wesleyan Church.