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An Interview with Daniel Nelms

An Interview with Daniel Nelms

Creekside has a commitment to see churches planted here in the United States and around the world. That commitment has led us into long relationship with Redeemer in New Jersey and they have been a personal encouragement and challenge to us as elders here at Creekside. Early on, our heart for church planting moved us to provide the health insurance for Eric and his family during the first couple of years of their church plant. It’s pretty exciting to see how God has blessed their work out east and how he has graced them with the privilege of seeing a new church established in one of the least-churched areas of the United States. Please take some time to read and get a glimpse of what it could look like for Creekside to be a part of that in our own area as well.
Hi Daniel! Can you give us some background information for those that may not know you and tell us a bit about how God orchestrated this new church’s formation?

In 2010, my wife and I and our newborn son moved from Georgia to Brick, New Jersey helped plant a church with Pastor Eric Loyer. We launched in 2011, and over the course of years God tremendously blessed us with growth and baptisms. In 2014, we began having conversations with another church in the area about our churches potentially joining together – they had a beautiful facility but only a few people, we had people but no facility. Two years later, these two churches came together as what is now known as Redeeme
Two years into this new combined church, we had again experienced steady growth. We realized that in this church we had around 30-40 people traveling from farther north, the location also where I happened to live (north side of Brick, which was also my Community Group I led). After much prayer and counsel, we decided to turn our Community Group into a church plant, sharing the same name, Redeemer Fellowship, seeking to extend the same mission/vision into a new congregation with it’s own leadership. In this manner we will be able, prayerfully, to become a larger influence on our region for the Gospel and in our own regional Redeemer Network, be able to equip and train and send out more church planters through the sharing of resources locally than we could in isolation from one another.
Assuming life and ministry at Redeemer Toms River was good, why move ahead in a risky venture with high costs to plant a church not that far away from your planting church?
Great question. Receiving a church building can have the effect of the feeling that we “arrived” at what the church is supposed to be about. It gives the feeling of stability with nice comfy chairs and a worshipful environment, and thus it can be easy to forget about those on the outside of the church walls. Mission can be left behind and traded for comfortability if we are not careful.
Thus, knowing that no time is ‘right’ for church planting, we knew that the best move we could make for the shepherding of our church body and for it’s health would be to feel the sting of seeing good friends sent off to invest into a new work thirty minutes down the street. It’s not about building up only one church in one city, but it is about the continual building up of new churches in new (or even the same!) cities, often at the own cost of the established churches. For Redeemer Toms River, ministries would loose valuable servants, the church staff would shrink, tithing would go down and more empty chairs would be seen in their Sunday gatherings. All for the sake of mission!
Our prayer is that this would not only ignite evangelism and mission into the new church plant, but would also do the same for the more established church in Toms River.
Why plant another church? Aren’t there enough churches in Point Pleasant already?
No single church or even group of churches could reach a single area. Especially on the Jersey Shore, even if every single church in existence within Point Pleasant Beach & Boro (around 7 churches or so for 22,000 people) averaged 500 in attendance (which none do), Point pleasant would only be 15% reached. The reality of attendance for most churches around us is 50 or less, with two being the exception. The best data we have found is that only around 4% of people in Point Pleasant attend a Christian church on Sundays. It is quite obvious that the need for new churches in our area is quite large!
Church planting often has the affect of reaching new people who are not Christians at a much larger rate than an established church, and this then has been known to inspire the other more established churches to do the same. And it also has statistically attracted more new churches to the area. All to say, church planting is a must for the growth of the church in any region or township.r Fellowship in Toms River, New Jersey
What are some of the challenges you have faced in this season as a body?
Since most people are not familiar with the idea of a new church in Jersey, combined with the idea of a church not meeting in a church building, people initially look at us with a skeptical eye. Thus we know that for us to make an impact in our city is not only going to be to have great and meaningful and well organized services on Sunday, but it will be more dependent on us being a presence in the community and making efforts to serve and meet their needs in the name of Jesus.
It will also take place one relationship at a time, investing into neighbors and co-workers and attending the same coffee shop over and over again and the like. Thus, growth will probably be slow initially, and could take years initially for us to see any large scale fruit. But of course God can do what he pleases, and we pray for the Spirit to work in greater ways than we can with our own efforts.
What are the greatest challenges and struggles facing you, your family, or the church body right now? How can we support you in this?
Right as we launched this new church, my wife and I realized that we had a major mold issue in our home after all the crazy rains we’ve had this summer. So the Nelms family had to move out of our home with our five children right upon launch, and tackle a very expensive and complex job of mold remediation, as our issue was quite bad. We’d appreciate the prayers as the work is only half-way done!
How specifically have you seen Jesus meet the needs (not just physically) of yourself, your family, and your church body in this season of planting a church?
We have a decent number of people attending our church plant who have been out of church for 15 years or more until we launched. And week in and week out, we’ve been preaching messages concerning the Gospel and how to live in light of the realities of the already-finished work of Christ, and how it should drive us to mission. It is very clear that God is in process right now of bringing spiritual renewal to many of these people, and it has been to precious to see.
Also in the midst of our own family trials with our home, feeling a bit of despair at such massive financial numbers to fix the mold issue, God sent people our way with buckets of money to help pay for the job. Thus far we’ve been able to do the work without getting in debt, which is such an incredible blessing!
In what ways have you seen God’s heart for His church at work in this season?
Jesus wants to see his people loving him with all their heart, mind, soul and strength. He wants to see those outside the church body who are hurting and seeking answers for life to be loved on and cared for all in the name of Jesus. We’re only a few months in, but we’ve seen many opportunities to live this out with each other and with those in our community.
As a church family, what is your vision and mission and what do you hope to accomplish in your community?
Our motto thus far in the early days of our plant is “preach the Gospel to someone while you are washing their feet.” Our sharing verbally the Gospel must not be separated from us living it out before and to others in our community, serving them and loving them. And simple as that, one relationship at a time, and in our community – that is what we must to do.
How can we at Creekside be praying for you?
In our very Catholic and unchurched area, please be praying for opportunities for us to be a light in our communities in the name of Jesus. Please be praying that the relationships we’ve been fostering outside the congregation will lead to salvation and Gospel-change within them. We just want to see Christians discipled and people reached and loved in the name of Jesus!
Can you just add some ways we can stay in touch with you (blog, etc) the life of the church (FB page? Website)
You can go to redeemernj.com to see both of our churches, and pointpleasant.redeemernj.com for ours specifcally. We are on Facebook/Instagram/Soundcloud @RedeemerPointPleasant