Editor’s note: This is the thirteenth in a series of stories about congregations engaged in significant outreach and evangelism ministries, reflecting the General Assembly’s commitment to “Grow Christ’s Church Deep and Wide.” ― Jerry L. Van Marter

Rob Klouw and Katherine Randall have had a busy few months, to say the least. The couple has moved from Kentucky to South Carolina — with two young children and two St. Bernards in tow. Randall gave birth to their third child in March.

And they’ve also decided to develop a completely new church.

Klouw and Randall are the organizing pastors of FaithPoint Presbyterian Church in Simpsonville, SC. With help from Foothills Presbytery, they’re gathering a group of interested people to meet and discuss the future and mission of the church.

“We really enjoy working with one another and just being together,” Klouw said. “Not only will we get to work together, we’ll get to do something new.”

The idea of going into a new place and starting from scratch to create history and traditions was exciting and intriguing, even as it meant going into “the absolute unknown,” Randall said.

“We knew it was a calling because we were scared to death,” she said. “The idea of working with God to make something out of nothing — you know that God will make something, but you don’t know what it is.”

From the ground up

The first steps to FaithPoint began when Foothills Presbytery conducted a demographic study of surrounding areas to find “hotspots,” or places with rapid population and commercial growth that would be good fits for a new church. Simpsonville, a bedroom community of nearby Greenville, was identified as such an area, said Bill Lancaster, associate for new church development at the presbytery.

According to its Web site, Simpsonville had a population of about 14,500 in 1997 and is a youthful town, with 61 percent of the population being under the age of 35.

After Simpsonville was chosen as the site for a new church, the presbytery began looking for organizing pastors. Klouw and Randall were matched through the Church Leadership Connection out of the Office of Vocation of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). They went through an interview process and moved to South Carolina in December to get to work.

Foothills Presbytery will buy the land — about $725,000 for 8.8 acres — and supply a $150,000 grant to go toward the church’s first building, which will serve as a flexible space for worship, fellowship and other meetings, Lancaster said. There is already one building on the land that Klouw and Randall can use as office space.

Corporate worship is scheduled to begin in September. The goal is to have 150 members within a year so that in September 2010, the church can conduct a capital campaign and hire an architect to expand the building.  

The right fit

One of the things FaithPoint hopes to bring to Simpsonville is a sense of community. The area is changing from a rural area to a suburban one where many people commute to Greenville every day and don’t know their neighbors.

The desire for unity is already there — Simpsonville has several smart-growth subdivisions, which place houses close together and use smaller yards. The neighborhoods have common green areas such as parks and playgrounds, which are meant to create a sense of community, Lancaster said.

“That will be one of the things that this church accomplishes: to create community where there is none,” he said. “Rob and Katherine have a very good sense of the role of community.”

Klouw and Randall have begun planning several community events, with the first one being held at the end of April. These casual get-togethers will serve to get the word out about FaithPoint and create interest around the church.

Some interest has already been found. Klouw and Randall recently hosted a meeting of about 30 people and hope to begin forming a group of engaged people to meet for Bible fellowship and to help build the church.

In addition to a vibrant relationship with God, it’s important for organizing pastors to be able to relate to people, be outgoing and likable and have an entrepreneurial spirit, Lancaster said. The ability to recognize opportunities for connections is essential when building a church.

“It’s not like building a business — you’re really building an institution,” he said. 

Klouw and Randall have already found several ways to reach out.

In June, FaithPoint will host a Vacation Bible School that will be lead by some of the summer staff at Camp Buc, an outdoor ministry that’s a partnership between Foothills and Trinity presbyteries. The church is also exploring ways to get involved at Greenville Technical College, which has a satellite campus in Simpsonville. In the future, Klouw and Randall hope that FaithPoint can become a central point in town, partnering with entities that support or distribute community services like parents’ days out or a crisis center.

“We’re excited to be a supportive presence in the wider area,” Randall said.

That goal reflects a bigger goal set forth by the PC(USA), which is seeking to “Grow Christ’s Church Deep and Wide” through the areas of membership, discipleship, servanthood and diversity.