Tyler St. Clair, Church Planting Resident

Posted: January 22, 2015 by mikehanafee in Uncategorized

On February 1 Restore Church & the EFCA will begin our first Church Planting Residency with Tyler St. Clair of Northwest Detroit. Tyler is already well known & loved by the Restore family having served on the Plant Midwest Detroit Team, preached at The Post Office, and participated in several Restore events. This two year three-phased residency will culminate in a church plant in Northwest Detroit. Tyler and his wife Elita have four beautiful children. We are looking forward to what God will do as Pastor Tyler serves on the Restore pastoral team! Here is Tyler’s story in his own words.

The stories of my wife, Elita, and I both begin in the city of Detroit. We both were raised predominantly by our mothers. Both of us come from broken homes, yet with strong support systems from extended family. We were raised in church from young ages. Unbeknownst to us, we had grown up literally within blocks of one another. But this is where our similar backgrounds end.

Elita was a “good girl” with excellent grades, and even attended a Christian school. She came from a successful, close knit family. She was beautiful (and still is) and even did some local modeling. When she was to begin high school, her mother and stepfather moved their family to Southfield, an affluent suburb just outside of Detroit. Following high school, she attended Wayne State University in downtown Detroit on a full academic journalism scholarship, graduating with her Bachelors of Arts Degree in three years. Despite an enviable upbringing, as an adult it became obvious to her that she had been crippled by fear. These issues resulted in battles with anxiety, depression, insecurity, unhealthy relationships and ultimately a waning of her faith. She finally came to realize she was merely “religious” and morally righteous. She was lacking relationship with the One she professed for so many years to know, love and serve.

I was “that kid.” You know “that kid.” I was suspended constantly, fighting in school, had terrible grades, and an volatile attitude. I dabbled in minimal criminal activities and befriended drug dealers and hustlers. I was told by a male teacher in my school that I would never graduate high school. A female teacher declared I would never live to see the age of 21. My mother, unfortunately, worked nonstop to support my younger brother and I. So as a result of often being home alone, I discovered porngraphy and sex at age 13. Finally, after barely graduating high school, I found myself feeling impossibly bound by promiscuity, depression and fighting suicidal thoughts in college. I was on my way to Hell, until Jesus Christ saved me from myself and offered me hope at 19 years old.

Me and my wife’s distinct stories intersected in the Spring of 2002. I had since surrendered my life to Jesus Christ and begin serving Him intensely. She was struggling in her faith and drifting through life as a religious Christian. Soon after we met, she surrendered her life to The Lord Jesus and began serving Him. Though I was a little further in my walk with God, we grew together in Christ and especially as friends. We married two years later and continued to do ministry together in the city of Detroit.

I have always felt the Lord called me to start a church (even before I learned of the term church planting). Through much prayer, fasting and confirmation from (both former and current) pastors, my wife and I both believe this call to church planting on Detroit’s West Side was God’s will for us.

The year of 2008, however, was a transitional year in my ministry for Christ. Our former church, located in the heart of Detroit, was celebrating its 50-year anniversary. Yet, as I looked out of our church’s beautiful stained glass windows at the crumbling surroundings–a community where the selling of sex and drugs was visible literally just across the street–I could not manage to muster up a celebratory attitude. I will never forget a strung out mother sending her four children (including a sick and severely diaper-rashed newborn) to our church for help. People were even shot and killed just steps away from our church.

At the same time, I had taken on leadership roles with two ministries outside of my church. One being Sons of Promise, (a mentoring program for inner city young men), and ReTool (a mentoring and after-care program for incarcerated youth). Working with these ministries further exposed me to the plight of the people and families in my city. Our country, at that time, was also in the midst of an economic recession and political upheaval. Then at the end of the year 2008, on Christmas day, my life most certainly changed forever. That morning, the life of my younger brother, Tahir, was ended. My 23-year-old brother was shot and killed in an apparent robbery just around the corner from our childhood home on the Northwest side of Detroit.

Despite the overwhelming grief, I felt led to eulogize my brother. I had never seen such pain, grief, and despair in my life from my family, friends, and many strangers. At my brother’s funeral, I realized, to a greater extent, Detroit’s dire state of emergency. At that very moment, I felt an urgency to be a catalyst for change and restoration through The Gospel in my city. Since then, I have also lost a ministry partner and a young man I was mentoring to violence in the streets of Detroit. The darkness that has overpowered Detroit can only be overshadowed by the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Elita and I are excited to begin this church planting residency with the EFCA and Restore Church. Restore Church has been close to our hearts, but it is wonderful to be officially connected. We believe this partnership will result in many disciples made, many church planting churches and bring much Glory to The Lord Jesus.

A Holy Ethnos: Be Who We Are

Posted: January 20, 2015 by Nick in Uncategorized

What is holiness and what does it have to do with MLK Day & this year’s theme of #Revelation7_9Now? In His grace God is clearly doing something special in & through Restore Church. But here’s the deal:  Nothing will derail what God is doing here quicker than God’s people not walking in holiness. It is true that we are going to struggle with sin all the way home; but willful, deliberate, knowing, consistent, intentional disobedience, is what will derail the church. If we don’t walk in holiness there are several tragic consequences: We will lose all credibility, lose the power of the Holy Spirit, lose the gift of effective prayer, and lose the very presence of God himself. To pursue being a #Revelation7_9Now church, we must pursue holiness ethnos. In 1 Peter we see 4 aspects of walking in holiness. First of all, we suffer well. There is a unique suffering for following our Lord, and we must keep our eyes on our prize, Jesus Christ. We also sever our old lives, not living in the way we used to for it is not who we are anymore. We submit to our authorities, and when we do, we are beautifully submitting to God, looking like Jesus whom we claim to follow. Lastly, we serve others, through loving & forgiving, hospitality, & using our gifts. Biblical holiness is not a list; it’s a lifestyle. We’re going to fail. However, God draws straight lines with crooked sticks. Those who have had a true experience with grace, walking close to God, say it is precisely because they have tasted that grace, that they pray and ask God to be whom he called them to be. Our usefulness depends on our holiness, having the holiness that comes out of constant communion with Jesus. “For every look at self, take ten looks at Christ.” (Robert Murray McCheyne) It’s all about Jesus. You can listen to this message on holiness by Pastor Mike HERE!

What is the church?

Posted: January 15, 2015 by Nick in Uncategorized

Superman and a baby? There is not enough a single metaphor that can properly describe the difference between Jesus and Satan. That is how powerful Jesus is, and how powerless his “counterpart” is. However, if it is true that the gates of hell will not prevail, why is it that the church fails all the time? Why don’t the churches from the 1st century still remain? Jesus is referring to the universal church, the invisible church made visible through us, the local church. The church isn’t just about Jesus, the church is Jesus. When the church is persecuted, Jesus is persecuted. This body of Christ by it’s nature is diverse which is why “Because I am not…” is a deadly phrase. The church is the strongest when it is diverse, and no one has the right to tap out and to deprive the body of what he or she uniquely brings to the body.

Jesus loved us which is why he died for us. We as the body of Christ live for Christ. Therefore we live for one another. Everything has changed for us. It’s no longer about me. It’s not just about us, but it’s about others. We are ambassadors which means as a church we are an embassy, for the King of kings. As ambassadors of reconciliation, how can we tell others to reconcile with God when were not reconciled with one another? 

The church is a temple where Jesus is worshiped. We are the temple of God, and when we show up, the temple of God is here. Without the people of God, it is just a gathering of people, a building, a mere post office. However, when the body of Christ gathers as the local church, it is more powerful than any gathering of people we could possibly imagine. We are the temple of God worshiping the living God.
When the church is the body of Christ we have this horizontal relationship with one another. When it is the embassy of reconciliation we have an outward focus onto our community, and when it is the temple of God, there is a vertical relationship with God the Father. In other words, the local church is all about making Jesus a part of every aspect of your life. This is why we are called to be part of the messy, yet beautiful, body of Christ. This is the church. You can listen to this powerful message on the church by Pastor Noel Heikkinen from Riverview Church, one of the very first churches that partnered with us, HERE!


Posted: January 5, 2015 by Nick in Uncategorized

From the 73rd floor of the Renaissance Center a person can get a full view of the city of Detroit. In a similar fashion the book of Revelation gives us perspective of eternity. Revelation 7:9 – 10, a significant text to understanding the story line of the Bible, is also a text for one of the core values at Restore. Eternity is about God being glorified, his weightiness being put on blast. It is about God being glorified for his salvation. The gospel will forever fuel the praise of our God. Ultimately, eternity is about God being glorified for his salvation by all peoples. Revelation 7:9-10 paints a beautiful mosaic of a multicultural people all worshiping in one voice but in a multitude of languages, and Jesus wants this now, to pursue this out of obedience. There are 8 tangible ways in which we can pursue this: (1) pray and fast for it; (2) preach for it; (3) raise up leaders for it; (4) walk in community for it; (5) do special events for it; (6) reject black and white thinking about it; (7) stay at the table for it; and (8) celebrate it! This is glory issue, a gospel issue, and an obedience issue. When people who are so different from each other worship God together as one family and do life together, that is a movie trailer for the eternal kingdom. Only His grace can undo a history of hatred and the barriers built up. You can hear this message on Revelation 7:9-10 by Pastor Mike HERE!

In the audio, you can also hear more about the exciting announcement about our first elder apprenticeship with Charles Bovan and the church planting residency with Tyler St Clair! Please pray for these brothers and the staff as they discern how to serve the body and His people!

As we enter into a new year, the theme of 2015 is On Earth as it is in Heaven. #Revelation7_9Now. We as a body will be joining many others in a intentional time of prayer and fasting to kick off the year. The purpose of this year’s Solemn Assembly is to focus Restore Church as individuals and as a church family on pursuing the reconciliation of all Peoples through the gospel. For details, please refer to the previous post!


#NationwideSolemnAssembly #Revelation7_9Now 2015

Posted: January 4, 2015 by cletebontrager in Core Values

The purpose of this year’s Solemn Assembly is to focus Restore Church as individuals and as a church family on pursuing the reconciliation of all Peoples through the gospel.


As we at Restore Church have an intentional time of fasting and prayer let us remember that what we do this week should not have a period on the end of it, but a comma.  We want God to write His story of grace on this church as we pursue glorifying Him through fasting and prayer this week.

We will do this by setting aside not only meals, but by spending concentrated times together during this week. We invite all of you to participate in the following schedule:

  • Monday Evening – We invite you to spend time with your family praying together and going through material provided by Restore’s elders. (Two helpful studies below this section)
  • Tuesday Evening – We invite you to a prayer meeting at the PO (6:30–8:30 PM). After a time of concentrated prayer, we will share a small meal together and then observe the Lord’s Supper.
  • Wednesday Evening – If you are not yet part of a DGroups, we invite you to spend the evening with one! If your DGroup does not meet on Wednesday, we encourage you to get together with another family for a time of prayer, fellowship, and reflection.
  • Thursday night – If you are not yet part of a DGroups, we invite you to spend the evening with one! If your DGroup does not meet on Thursday, we encourage you to get together with another family for a time of prayer, fellowship, and reflection.
  • Friday Evening – We invite you back to the Post Office to conclude the week together. We will spend an hour in prayer (6:30–7:30 PM) and then share a meal together (7:30–9 PM). During this time we will reflect on what God has taught us through this time and pray for a continued reliance on the Holy Spirit for 2015.

CLICK ON THE TWO STUDIES PROVIDED.  These can be used in your Dgroups or family time as you hang together.

Unity Achieved

Unity Realized

Helpful Guidelines for the fasting and prayer:

  • ●  Spend time praying during the time you usually eat
  • ●  No TV
  • ●  No web surfing (unless job related)
  • ●  No Blogging
  • ●  Read your bible, pray, and connect to other believers that are different from you culturally or ethnically.  In other words hang with those you might not normally hang with.

Click on the link below to see the handout that was available at the 11:00 am service.

Solemn Assembly Handout_2015

Unity for the Sake of Mission

Posted: January 4, 2015 by mikehanafee in Uncategorized

How can the gospel of Jesus Christ be power enough to reconcile sinful men to a holy God but fail to reconcile people who don’t look like, talk like or vote like one another? If the Church wants to protect the credibility of the gospel (the only message that can change the world) it must better live up to and practically live out its God-given identity as the people of God. Randy Wimbley tackles that very issue in a sermon on 1 Peter 2:9-10.You can listen HERE.

Good News of Great Joy: Christmas Unplugged

Posted: December 22, 2014 by mikehanafee in Uncategorized

From PA, to Australia, to Pakistan, to NYC, there was much carnage last week. All the Christmas lights, parties, and gifts, in the world can not hide fact this world is deeply broken. On an individual level, Christmas is often followed by a time of depression for many people, because the holidays did not deliver joy they seemed to promise. So instead of trite little Christmas religious niceties that encourage us about as long as the wrapping paper stays on Christmas presents, we need Hope from God Himself.  May the Spirit dust off your familiarity of the angel’s announcement to the shepherds of Christ’s birth and empower you to both see and feel how The Gloria in Excelsis explodes with hope for a sin racked world and sin racked hearts. There are five compelling reasons this is Good New of Great Joy. You can listen HERE to this message from Luke 2:8-20.

We would love for you to join us for our Christmas Eve Service 6-7PM at The Post Office!
(2701 Joy Road, just west of Linwood in central Detroit)