It is with great pleasure that we introduce Ben Hardman as Grace-Marietta Campus Pastor. After much prayer, the Grace Family of Churches Elder Board, along with Grace Campus pastors, feel Ben is the person God has called to lead Grace-Marietta.
Ben Hardman Bio
Ben’s vision is to awaken God’s people, equip God’s family, and unleash God’s mission in the life of everyday leaders through mission and discipleship.
He has been involved in Christian ministry for over 20 years, in megachurch, youth ministry, and church planting contexts. He speaks and trains frequently at events across the country.
Ben was a team leader on the staff at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, before becoming one of the founding pastors of The Avenue, a church plant on the campus of the University of Louisville.
Formerly named as one of the top thirty youth ministers in America and one of the top thirty Christian leaders under thirty, Ben is a graduate of Anderson University with a degree in Bible & Christian ministries.
He is a huge Ohio State Buckeye fan and a former high school basketball coach. Ben will be moving to Marietta with his wife Sarah and kids Cole, Caden, and Claire to pastor Grace-Marietta beginning April 2017.
In October, we as a church prayed for Buddy and Jody Hoffman, the couple who originally planted the first Grace Fellowship Church in a daycare in Tucker in 1983. We were praying for an upcoming procedure that would relieve pain from a ruptured, bulging disc in Buddy’s back. For most people, an epidural steroid injection to relieve pain is a straightforward procedure. But for Buddy, it was far more complex because he is only four years removed from a catastrophic aortic dissection that should have been fatal but—because of a miracle of God—he lived.
Thankfully, that steroid injection went well. But even though that procedure went well, his health continued to be a challenge, and he has been in significant pain these last three months. This week Thursday, he was with us for an All-Campus All-Staff meeting with staff leaders from all seven Grace campuses, and in spite of his discomfort, he shared incredibly meaningful words of encouragement with us all. But later that evening, he was feeling poorly, so he returned to St. Joseph’s hospital. There, he underwent a number of tests, and the doctors finally ascertained that his pain and difficulties are due to an aneurysm in his aorta. Also, they have found an infection around the aneurysm in his aorta that is expected to be terminal. The doctors have released him from the hospital into home hospice care. Right now, the Hoffman Family asks that you not visit during this initial time as they get settled at home. They would, of course, very much appreciate your prayers. Also, if you would like to reach out to Buddy and Jody and the family, we invite you to:
Post a note or a video to his Buddy Hoffman Facebook Profile—they love to hear stories about how their lives have impacted others
Send them an email at
Drop off any written letters at the front desk
We are aware that this is difficult news to hear about a man who has seemed rather indestructible all of his life. But when he shared in our staff meeting this Thursday, he seemed to be aware that his physical body was nearing the end of its term, and he said:
Within the last 1,000 days I have encountered eternity, and it is absolutely glorious. But right now, it would seem that I am terminal. Four months ago, my disc ruptured, and it is difficult and debilitating. In the attempt to fix the disc, they pricked my larynx, and now I speak like the Godfather.
In this season, God has opened doors even though I speak like the Godfather and even though I am in pain and even though what I have, they say, is terminal. Grace Marietta and Grace New Hope have been planted, and both of those campuses have begun to flourish. It’s amazing to me. And I really believe that one of the major reasons they have grown and they are flourishing is because God wants to show that the work that he does is not of man, it is of God.
The blessing and favor of God is upon Grace and its family, and what we see and what is happening is not of us, it is not even just we, it is of God. And as long as we blend together with the work of the Holy Spirit, there is nothing that cannot happen. Nothing!
The kingdom is bigger than any momentary pain. Distractions come and go, but the bigger issues of the heart are what we can never afford to overlook. Love well, cover one another in grace for the sake of the Kingdom. Don’t let a bulge in a relationship suck you away from the greater story, nor the rupture of your plans take your eye off the prize. It is a temporary pain; it is not going to kill you. But ignore your heart and relationship with God, and it will kill us and it will kill others.
We are not looking back saying, “Oh, wow, those were the really good days.” No. Sometimes those days weren’t that good, and they were really hard. But we trusted God for them, and we looked with faith that God is going to do so much more in the future, in the days ahead that it will make what God has done in the past look like small letters.
As we all continue to find our place in Grace, we come to these official moments of business meetings and recognize that when we vote on a budget this is more than facts and figures. We have become a growing and very diverse FAMILY with 7 campuses, hundreds of house churches, and literally thousands of leaders who have been discipled. As God leads, we step out in faith and keep extending His Kingdom. Our budgets facilitate the growth of Kingdom through this Grace Family of Churches. It all belongs to God, and amazingly enough, we get to be a part of it.
As leadership at Grace, we want to say THANK YOU for being such a generous people. God uses your Kingdom generosity to fund an ever expanding family of churches, and quite honestly, God has much more in store for us in the days ahead–so thank you in advance for your continued generosity.
Here are just a few family highlights to celebrate since we last affirmed a budget.
We have gone from 5 to 7 Grace campuses in the last year, adding Grace Capital City (Washington D.C.) and Grace Marietta to our growing family.
On Pentecost at the Tabernacle, we raised roughly $200,000 to pioneer a new campus in Washington D.C. Chris and Jessica Moerman stepped forward to lead there, and already have 3 house churches and 75 people gathering for worship Sunday afternoons in the Starbucks on Capitol Avenue.
A total of 40 people from multiple campuses were SENT to Grace Capital City to start that work as a family on mission.
Within 4 & 1/2 months of the first mention that a Marietta House Church might be able to become a campus, God gave us 8.5 acres of land and a functioning facility a half mile from one of the largest High Schools in Cobb County.. Buddy preached the first morning service on January 24 with around 170 people gathered for worship.
Grace in Athens isn’t 3 years old yet, but last year they grew from 4 to 10 house churches with 20 adults discipling 100 student leaders. They are regularly pushing 500 in worship participation, and last February they baptized 39 people who had come into the Kingdom. That is God-sized fruit.
Grace Monroe grew 30% and almost doubled their previous year’s giving in the process of becoming a self-funded campus contributing significantly to the family mission funding process.
Snellville and Midtown sent significant numbers of leaders, people and resources to start new work in Marietta and Washington DC. This sacrificial giving makes multiplication of disciples, house churches and new churches possible.
Midtown also has established 50 Healthy House Churches that are truly Houses on Fire.
New Hope has experienced MAJOR growth in Kidzlife and Lug as Randy and Anita Rainwater have stepped over from Snellville to lead that campus and more aggressively reach the Next Generation.
Historically, Snellville sent people to start Midtown, Monroe, New Hope and has been the center of sending and resourcing a lot of the Kingdom advancement that God has stirred through all of the Grace Family of Churches. Snellville has sacrificed by SENDING so that we can MULTIPLY God’s Kingdom Footprint through planting churches. In the midst of that, God continues to expand Thrive, Good News Clubs, and Mission Partnerships locally and globally where hundreds come into the Kingdom.
Across our campuses, we grew financially by 7% from the previous year. The $7 million that came into the family this year meant that we were able to set aside $1 million for mission causes locally, globally and through church planting.
We haven’t even touched on the hundreds of children students and adults baptized across all 7 campuses, or the many exciting developments in the Grace 360 Mission efforts around the world.
For the sake of KINGDOM MULTIPLICATION, Grace churches SEND and intentionally subtract locally so that through our praying, giving and going, God has moved from one location to many locations. Multiplication requires that we send and resource the advance of the Gospel through His people.
Therefore, when we vote on a budget, we are not just affirming a set of numbers of dollars on a page that we think we can raise. We are affirming the VISION of 7 campuses with 7 campus pastors who work with their team asking, “What is God calling us to do, and how is He going to provide to get it done?
Grace, you have routinely demonstrated that you believe in this vision. Just as some of our campuses sacrifice to make the vision happen, many of you do the very same thing — you sacrifice in numerous ways to invest in this mission. As elders and staff teams, again we say THANK YOU! Kingdom work is expensive, and your faith to invest in the vision blows us away year after year.
God funds our vision through the Kingdom investments of our family. Thank you for investing in the Kingdom through Grace.