RUSSELL JEFFARES is the the head pastor for Vintage Grace Church in Orange Park, Florida. We are honored to partner with him and the church community beginning in 2018.
Gospel In Life
Amanda and I both were prodigals who were saved by God's amazing mercy. We both pursued sin and the good news saved us both from disaster; and when we married, I adopted her son Ashton. We now live in radical forgiveness and new position as God's son and daughter. The gospel has been the foundation of our marriage. Our ability to love, forgive, and be transparent has saved our marriage on numerous occasions. Now as church planters, the gospel keeps us from despair in the face of discouragement, able to love others when they do not love in return, and an unflinching hope that our labor in not in vain.
Gospel In Family
We knew that church planting would put heavy pressure on our family. Therefore we decided to be as intentional as possible with our marriage and with our children. In general we decided it was imperative that we both had good, gospel centered coaching. With our marriage we have continued to have regular intentional time together (dates), frequent get-aways (a day or two), and regular marriage counseling (once a month). These measures have kept us gospel-centered, on the same page, and has helped when we've faced difficulties in the plant. With our children, we knew we needed to be just as intentional. Therefore we have made sure that we have intentional, special time with them (outings, trips, kids dates, game nights, movie nights). In addition, we have worked to protect their space. We host a lot, and at first their rooms and belongings were often effected. As a result, we have since made special effort to insure that their space and belongings were protected. In many ways, church planting has helped our marriage and our relationships with our kids. It has forced us to be more intentional and drawn us closer together.
We have learned so much in this church planting process. I can only briefly list some here.
- The vital importance of prayer. Planting has forced us to our knees in reliance upon God.
- Carefully defining success. We are called to be faithful and intentional. We cannot change hearts.
- Clinging to the gospel. God's love and approval is paramount to the thoughts, opinions, and expectations of other.
- Never underestimate resistance to the cross.
- Listen to your wife. Bottom line, church planting has continually caused Amanda and me both to rest upon God's love, digging into Scripture, and relying upon our support network.
Vintage Grace is about brining the gospel to the OakLeaf community through engaging worship, authentic relationships, and Bible centered teaching. OakLeaf is a growing community with over 50,000 residents and over 170,000 people within a 15 minute drive. It is one of the fastest growing communities and rated one of the top places to live in Florida. There are few churches in this area attempting to reach people with the good news of Jesus; and there are no Reformed churches in this area. A church is needed to expose people to the love of Jesus, engage them in God-honoring worship, connect them in meaningful relationships, and provide support to their families. In five years we hope to have powerful, gospel-centered worship with more than 200 people, missional communities throughout the different enclaves of OakLeaf, and beginning to plant churches north in the westside of Jacksonville.
We desire to plant a healthy, generous, multiplying church in the OakLeaf because of the great need and lack of churches (particularly gospel-centered, Reformed) on the westside of Jacksonville. We hope to not just plant a single congregation but a church that is ready to plant churches and resource church plants. We believe that God is capable of great things, so we are expecting Him to do great things. A good portion of our initial budgets (after self-sufficiency) will be devoted to funding a church planting apprentice who will be preparing to launch another church further north into the westside of Jacksonville.
If you would like to reach out to Russell, you can visit the church's website at www.vintagegrace.church.