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The congregation started in the couple’s living room in 2009, as the Shaws continued to work bivocationally as schoolteachers. Six years later, after a nomadic journey through a coffeehouse, beverage bar, church basement, and finally a charter school multipurpose room, the congregation still consisted of only 30 regular attendees.
“I had hit every wall and ceiling,” recalls Shaw, 44. “I was at my wit’s end because I had no connections. I was desperate for a mentor.”
He decided to fast for 21 days to seek God’s direction. At the end of the fast, Shaw says he received no revelation from the Lord. Frustrated, he poured out his complaints to God. He says the Lord then impressed upon him to conduct a computer Google search for “Assemblies of God.”
Shaw did so, and connected with Andrew D. Templeton, then an AG Tennessee Ministry Network sectional presbyter. The two met the following day for lunch.
“Andrew was like God’s voice at that moment,” Shaw says. “It’s the first time I got another pastor as a friend.”
Templeton, pastor of Sweetwater First Assembly, brought Shaw to a sectional meeting, where Shaw met pastors who had been involved in ministry for decades. Multiple AG Tennessee pastors mentored him and he formed relationships with representatives from the AG Church Multiplication Network. CMN Director of Operations John Jay Wilson explained church planting principles.
“It was like a veil had been ripped off my eyes,” Shaw says of the friendships he formed. “Everything started clicking.”
Shaw transferred his ministerial credentials to the Assemblies of God.
Yet when Templeton suggested that Shaw become pastor of a tiny church in need of leadership in the Hixson section of Chattanooga, Shaw initially balked. The youngest of the 10 remaining attendees was 70 years old.
Shaw says he then heard a rebuke from the Lord: Don’t be dumb; these are people who need help.
As he talked to the congregants, he heard their desire to pass along a godly heritage to their grandchildren and to see church classrooms full of kids. The Shaws could appreciate the concerns. They now have three teenage daughters: Madalyn, 19; Reagan, 18; and Hadassah, 15.
After Shaw went through CMN Launch training, the members of the older existing traditional AG congregation agreed to merge with the work Shaw had started. It has been renamed C4 Church. The name represents Cross of Calvary Community Church and is a homage to the faithful elderly saints who stayed, some of whom are now in their 90s.
C4 Church soon started a second campus at an elementary school in the Red Bank part of Chattanooga. But after COVID-19 hit a couple of years ago, the school no longer would allow meetings. C4 absorbed the 40 regulars back. Instead of multiple campuses, C4 now has multiple services. Attendance has tripled since the pandemic began to 250. Shaw attributes the growth to discipling congregants and developing leaders.
Now Shaw is keen to start a new campus in downtown Chattanooga. The city in the Appalachian Mountains is growing, in part because of new residents relocating from the coasts since the onset of COVID-19.
Tennessee Ministry Network Terry G. Bailey calls Shaw a positive leader who pastors with integrity. He notes that Shaw has been elected the AG sectional presbyter in Chattanooga, Templeton’s former post. Templeton is now a Tennessee executive presbyter.
“Ian is a great fit for the Assemblies of God and vice versa,” says Bailey, 67. “He has a great attitude, a cooperative spirit, and he is actively involved with CMN.”
Shaw served as a CMN coach at a training event for the first time in January.