ORLANDO, Fla.—The Association of Baptists for World Evangelism wants to facilitate the planting of 1,000 churches in the U.S. in the next 10 years. On Jan. 5–8, the organization’s North America team took a significant step in that direction by meeting with 36 church-planting experts from 10 associations, including the GARBC, Baptist Network Northwest, and Project Jerusalem. The goal was to understand and collect each group’s best church-planting practices.
“The meetings went beyond getting together and talking ‘church-planting shop,’” says Douglas Martin, director of ABWE North America. “It was amazing to watch this group of essential strangers bond so quickly, care so deeply, share so openly, and pray so passionately!”
“The need for planting new churches in North America is astounding,” writes participant Scott McCoy, a church-planting missionary with ABWE, on his website Go and Disciple. “The latest studies indicate that in North America, about 4,000 new churches start each year while 3,500 churches close permanently. At this rate of growth, the church does not keep up with birth rate or immigration, or both. Many who have studied this problem conclude that new churches are the best way to reach more people with the life-transforming power of the Holy Spirit.”
Planting churches is one of the GARBC’s passions as well. “The alternative to reproduction is extinction. A movement will inevitably die if it is not multiplying itself,” says John Greening, GARBC national representative, in his Baptist Bulletin article “20/20 Vision for the Future.” On March 10, the Regular Baptist Web Community will host the free webinar “Churches Planting Churches: How Do We Start?” Ken Davis, director of Project Jerusalem, will talk about expanding vision for church multiplication, identifying and overcoming fears, gaining leaders’ support, and cultivating congregational commitment to parenting churches.
Davis was one of the attendees of the Orlando event. Also participating were leaders of several GARBC ministries, including Don Duty, state representative of the Baptist Network Northwest, whose mission agency, Northwest Baptist Home Mission, facilitates the establishment of churches; Scott Greening, who planted Great Commission Baptist Church, Schaumburg, Illinois; Dan Nichols, who planted Restored Church, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; David Johnson, who planted Woodbridge Baptist Church, Wildwood, Florida; Sam Farlow, an ABWE church planter who currently pastors Westwood Baptist Church, Fresno, California; and Pat Nemmers, pastor of Saylorville Church, Des Moines, Iowa, which has planted four churches since 2005.
Dave Heisterkamp, formerly administrative pastor for Saylorville Church, is pastor of Lakeside Fellowship in Polk City, Iowa, the first church that Saylorville planted. After attending the think-tank in Orlando, he said he “woke up at 4 this morning thinking about ‘eradicating lostness’ [and] ‘owning the lostness/darkness’ in my circle of accountability.”
The ABWE North America church-planting initiative will help churches develop leaders and provide coaching support for parent churches, church planters, and church plants. Martin says, “This is just the beginning of what we hope will be a nationwide church-planting initiative founded on prayer.”
To learn more, commit to pray, or get involved, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.