Alumni: Cliff Marshall ’91
Cliff Marshall is Team Leader for the Start Team (church planters) for the South Carolina Baptist Convention. He has a background in student ministry. In 2004, he worked on planting a church, Freedom Fellowship in Greer, South Carolina. He served as pastor of Freedom Fellowship until joining the SCBC in 2015. He and his wife, Sherry Mathis Marshall ’89, have two daughters, Emily, a 2017 CSU graduate, and Grace, a current CSU student.
Growing Church Planters
Right now my role is leading leaders, leading the team as they influence church planters out in the field. Our big thing, we try to be more coaches than consultants. The church planters in Goose Creek, Myrtle Beach, Seneca, etc., they are the experts on that area. We coach, try to lead them to think differently, stretch them to take on more challenges, and do things that will make them a better leader.
Our team sees ourself more as encouragers than experts. What church planters are trying to do is difficult, challenging for them and their families. It’s hard, but they are making a difference and an impact.
Really, every church is a church plant. At one point that church didn’t exist. In the 1980s, 90s, early 00s, church planting became contentious, but for the most part that has gone away. South Carolina is one of the fastest growing states in the country, and existing churches need to plant churches. There is a better culture of cooperation for planting churches than there used to be.
When churches are needing a restart, we rely a lot on local leadership and on the local association. As state convention workers, we want to partner well. We’ve got church planters working all over the state.
Working During a Pandemic
This year has been the strangest time. Church plants that were meeting in schools can’t meet now, and they wonder, are we going to survive? Our team tries to be in contact as close as we can, through texting, phone calls, as a voice that comes into these guys’ lives. We try to tell them God hasn’t forgotten you and provide a voice of reason. Sometimes we all need an outside voice to say let’s look at it and find things to celebrate together.
Taking a Risk
When I finished at CSU in 1991, I knew I wanted to go into ministry. I felt God’s call to be a youth minister. I never envisioned planting or pastoring a church. I was a student minister and loved it; God used me and Sherry during that time to do neat things. It was such a rewarding thing to take the risk when I felt like God challenged me to plant a church.