God’s call drew Noah (MDiv ‘19) and Tarin (MAMFC ‘19) Madden to Massachusetts in 2020 to plant a church, and three years later, God's call and His faithfulness sustains them.
“God has been incredibly faithful. We are here because God, in His radical grace, called us and is sustaining us,” Noah said. “He is doing things we could never do. We feel honored to be a part of His mission.”
In April, Life Community Church in Weymouth, Massachusetts, which Noah leads, celebrated its first full year of weekly services. Shortly after the launch, Noah and Tarin adopted their son Daniel. The three Maddens are now firmly established in Weymouth and planting roots for the long haul.
UNIQUE PLANTING APPROACH
The new church plant is a part of the Life Community family of churches, which also has congregations in Quincy and Braintree, each only 10 minutes from Weymouth. Life Community Church operates with a local parish model, and their goal is to plant 30 churches in the Boston area. Rather than building up one or two larger regional churches, they aim to start churches very close to the populations they are trying to reach.
When the Maddens moved to Massachusetts, Noah participated in a pastoral residency program at Life Community Church in Quincy. This time helped them adjust to the new culture and understand the Life Community Church model.
After the residency, Noah and a team of believers from Life Community Church began hosting monthly worship gatherings in Weymouth in January 2022. Weekly gatherings started on Easter Sunday 2022.
Weymouth, a 400-year-old town, is the second oldest European settlement in Massachusetts. Located approximately 16 miles from Boston, Weymouth has little evangelical witness.
Each Life Community Church location shares the same DNA, but each reflects the uniqueness of its immediate community. Values, theology and doctrine are consistent, but each parish has local nuances.
Noah believes that a hyper-local approach best suits their context. Lost people in Weymouth are much more likely to interact with a congregation in Weymouth than they are to drive 10 minutes to the next town. All of this is designed to put the church close to those who are lost and "spiritually disconnected," as Noah puts it.
NATURAL CHURCH PLANTER?
Noah comes from a church-planting family. After his dad finished seminary at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, the family moved to Canada in 1996 when Noah was two years old. For the next 12 years, his dad worked to plant a church in British Columbia. The next move was to Edmonton, Alberta, where Noah’s dad trained church planters for the Canadian Baptist Convention’s Start Team.
After the 15-year sojourn in Canada, Noah's family moved to Washington, Georgia to be closer to a family member in poor health. Noah's dad pastored a church in the town of 6,000.
After graduating from high school in Washington, Georgia, Noah studied at Shorter University, a Baptist college in Rome, Georgia. He met and married his wife, Tarin, who graduated from Clemson University. God called them both to ministry during their first year of marriage (also Noah's last year of college). As they prayed about where to prepare for ministry, they sensed a clear call to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
Because Noah’s father was a church planter, many assumed he would follow that path of ministry. Church planting was the last thing in ministry Noah wanted to pursue.
“I ran from church planning as hard as I could,” Madden said. “I said, ‘I'll do anything but that.’”
CITY, CHURCH, CLASSROOM
God does not waste the stories or experiences of those He calls. Noah realizes that Canada played a huge role in preparing him for his work in Weymouth. However, in New Orleans, God grew his burden for the lost and softened his heart toward church planting. The city, his church (Lakeshore Church), and NOBTS played a role in his preparation for Massachusetts.
“I will never forget the moment that I realized that in the Lakeview community and the Bucktown neighborhood within a square mile of Lakeshore Church, there were 11,472 people and not one other evangelical church trying to reach them.”
That realization forced Noah and Tarin to wrestle with how they would spend their seminary years. It led to missional purpose in New Orleans and helped them develop the missional patterns they use each day in Weymouth.
“For us that was a game-changing shift,” he said. “We didn’t just come to earn a degree. It meant that if we came to seminary and did not do something about the 11,472 around our church, we were missing it.”
The Maddens learned how to get out into the community and find ways to build relationships with the people they were trying to reach with the gospel. The realization pushed them off the campus so they could invest in others.
"In the classroom, I learned all kinds of deep and rich realities about God that helped me understand who He is, again tools that were incredibly helpful in my ministry," Madden said. "What I learned at NOBTS continues to influence my ministry every day."
Lakeshore Church and the mentoring Madden received from George Ross, Lakeshore pastor, NAMB missionary and NOBTS professor, was essential to his preparation for the task in Massachusetts. Ross not only taught and modeled pastoral skills, but he also pushed Noah out of his comfort zone – challenging Noah to take on leadership roles that required dependence on God. Most of all, Ross and the professors at NOBTS modeled gospel urgency.
“There's an urgency in New Orleans,” he said. “Our gospel urgency was kindled at NOBTS and Lakeshore for Tarin and me.
Noah describes his church-planting role as a hybrid between a missionary and a pastor. The missionary role is most prominent in the early phases of the plant, but in an unchurched context like Weymouth, the missionary aspect of Noah’s ministry will never disappear.
“You lean very heavily toward the missionary role when you begin because you don’t have any members to pastor,” he said.
The missionary task is critical in a place like Weymouth.
“There are thousands of people in our community who are apart from Christ and in many ways … they are without access to the gospel because no one is there to tell them.”
Noah and Tarin apply the missionary task in all areas of life. This impacts where he goes to study for his sermons, where they shop, the coffee shops and restaurants they frequent, and even the time he takes out the garbage. Everything in life serves as a vehicle to meet and interact with their neighbors. Everything is mission.
Part of the missionary task involves observing and learning the local culture. Noah deliberately seeks to know and understand the community in order to find ways to bring the gospel to his neighbors. Contextualization is key in an area without Christian background.
“Church planters will always be missionaries,” he said. “Hopefully, I will never neglect the missionary bent of being a church planter. I certainly want to lean into the opportunities to be a shepherd as well.”As the Maddens lean into the missionary task, they remain amazed by God’s call and are sustained by God’s faithfulness.