Legacy church planting isn’t limited to churches at the very end of their lives. Many churches find themselves with buildings far larger than they need even as they struggle to impact their immediate community in a meaningful way. They love Jesus and the gospel. They love lost people, but they can’t seem to crack the missional code of the people who live around them. They aren’t ready emotionally to turn over their ministry to another entity. But they live daily with the reality of a building that is far too big and a community that seems unresponsive. Sound familiar? Keep reading.
After more than 30 years in ministry, Pastor Garth Leno stepped down from his role at his church of 10 years, not knowing what his next steps would be. A few months later, The Gathering was formed.
Pastors beware. Head on a mission trip to Calgary, and you may be there for life. That’s what happened to Brett Myers, who had been pastoring Corinth Baptist Church in Westminster, S.C., for two and a half years, when he arrived on a mission trip in the summer of 2012.
People-group ministry is often viewed as an international concern, but the executive leadership at the North American Mission Board (NAMB) is making an effort to highlight the importance and develop the scope of Southern Baptist people-group efforts in North America, too.
Southern Baptists attending this summer's Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio, may find it easier to get involved in SBC missions efforts thanks to a historic level of cooperation between the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board.
Crawling underneath houses to put in insulation, mudding and sanding dry wall and installing a fence are not typical spring break distractions. But for college students Makayla Campbell and Amber Wilcox those were the jobs they tackled with Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) volunteers on Long Island, N. Y., to help homeowners affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Baltimore church planter Jeremy Dickson has seen firsthand the impact of Crossover upon the ministries of his new church. The week before last summer’s Southern Baptist Convention, Dickson’s Infinity Church worked with Southern Baptist volunteers during Crossover to get the word out about a health fair in its neighborhood. Thanks to the help of volunteers who showed up to help, Dickson believes the event was a rousing success.
Hurricane Sandy survivor Cecelya Morsby faced near eviction in March 2015 from her flooded home in Freeport, N.Y., before Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) volunteers came to her aid more than two years after the storm’s surge ravaged the coastal town on Long Island’s south shore.
Each year about a thousand churches disappear from the Southern Baptist database, the majority of them closing. God gets no glory when that happens. Of those churches, 77 percent are located in metro areas. That means in the areas where we as Southern Baptists have identified we need churches the most, we’re starting to fall behind. We need to start even more churches in these metro areas every year just to catch up with the ballooning church death rate.
When Randy Chestnut and his wife of 35 years, Denise, sensed God calling them to establish a church and ministry in Old North Dayton, it was a homecoming for both. Raised in the area, the couple had deep roots in the community. But while Old North Dayton is home, the region has seen many changes since his childhood, says Randy Chestnut.
Two and a half years after Superstorm Sandy struck, Jim Clark and his wife, Ena, of Long Beach, N.Y., are working to get into their new home with the help of Southern Baptist volunteers.Sandy’s storm surge lifted and shifted their home of 35 years off its foundation.
For years in Southern Baptist life the message among pastors about plateaued and dying churches was simple—stay away. As a church planter, I believed, and experience had shown me, that it was easier to start a new church rather than resurrect a dying church with damaged DNA. But there was a problem with that belief. Jesus is in the resurrection business. The church must be as well.
Abby Hughes is one of only two Generation Send (GenSend) campus mobilizers in the Northwest who is taking on the responsibility to find other college students to participate in GenSend 2015.
Victory Baptist Church in St. Cloud, Minn., had a tough decision to make. With just a handful of members after years of struggle, they could continue meeting as usual, barely making use of the building and facilities they had, or they could choose something a bit more courageous.
Over the last year, I have had the privilege of visiting and preaching in many of the “Send” cities designated by the North American Mission Board (NAMB). As I have traveled to these cities and interacted with church planting and revitalization teams, I have been deeply encouraged to see and hear about all the avenues God is blessing for the spread of the gospel in North America. With over 80 percent of people on our continent now living in metropolitan areas, I am convinced that the need for more biblically faithful churches in these key urban centers is critical.
Mark Lashey had zero desire to live in Delaware. There was no sweet tea, no biscuits. Children there didn’t say sir and ma’am. The Northeast seemed cold in terms of relationships, not to mention climate. Yes, he understood his wife, Tammy, wanting to raise their children close to her parents, but the state held no other attraction for him. Then he started praying during his regular neighborhood jogs. Through his praying, God gave Lashey a burden for the community.
We are grateful for every dollar Southern Baptists give to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering® for North American Missions. Sometimes you might feel far-removed from the results of the offering so let me remind you of a few. What you give to Annie helps Southern Baptists start new churches where they are needed most. In 2014 Southern Baptists planted 985 new churches. That’s up 5 percent over the previous year and in some places increases were even more dramatic. In Ohio 37 new churches were started—an increase of 20 over the previous year. In New York there were 42 new churches—an increase of 22. And in the Northwest Convention, which includes Oregon, Washington State and parts of Idaho, 27 churches were started—24 more than the previous year.
Gabriel Revilla recalls a “Nike moment” when his college pastor in Miami approached him with a question.
“What do you think about recruiting an actual team of students and allowing them to come to Miami to reach lostness here?” Gus Hernandez, collegiate pastor at Christ Fellowship Baptist Church, asked Revilla.
The question was neither small nor random. Hernandez knew Revilla’s heart and potential for leadership in ministry.
Revilla accepted the challenge and decided to, “Just do it.”
Then came Chicago.
More than 180 years ago, anyone living in the Mexican controlled Texas territory had to speak Spanish and could only attend a Roman Catholic Church. As Stephen F. Austin led the effort toward Texas independence, a friend of his, Josiah H. Bell, was equally resolute toward another objective. Bell helped form the first Protestant church in Texas. Bell started a family tradition that today reaches to the Dakotas.
“I guess it’s in our blood,” said North American Mission Board (NAMB) church planter Jonathan Land. He is Bell’s great, great, great, great grandson, and they share deep Texas roots.
“I was born in Texas,” Land said. “There’s a reason people don’t like people from Texas. They are just so arrogant about being from Texas. I used to be that guy.”
Austin Coleman has spent each of the last two summers in New York City looking for intersections. If ever there was a city where success would seem inevitable, America’s largest city would be that place with its blur of 24-hour activity. New York City is a seemingly endless maze of intersections populated by yellow taxicabs, limousines, delivery trucks and personal vehicles. Despite potential risk, Coleman has navigated the city without incident or peril. Now, he has a love for New York City and a desire eventually to return there to live and plant churches.