FROM THE STATES: Ala., Md. and Tenn. evangelism/missions news; 'He just preaches Jesus. That's irresistible'
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FROM THE STATES: Ala., Md. and Tenn. evangelism/missions news; 'He just preaches Jesus. That's irresistible'
Today's From the States features items from:
Western Recorder (Kentucky)
The Christian Index (Georgia)
Southern Baptist TEXAN
Ky. church plant
By Myriah Snyder
FRANKLIN, Ky. (Western Recorder) -- A vacant building and vision for a multisite church led to Woodburn Baptist Church planting what would become Franklin Community Church seven miles down the road but across the county line.
The church, that had around 100 on its first Sunday, now, eight years later, has been completely autonomous for about four years and averages 400-450 in attendance between two services. The key to their success is being intentionally multicultural.
"It was very important for us in church planting to establish a very ethnic, very multicultural congregation. I think it's important that churches reflect their community. A church that doesn't reflect its community is a church in decline," Tim Harris, pastor of planting church, Woodburn, said.
Harris recalls a time he was at a local business in Franklin. A lady approached him, asked if he was the pastor of the planting church, and said, "Is that supposed to be a white church or a black church, because I can't tell by walking in there."
"At first I thought, 'she's trying to criticize us.' But then I thought, 'Oh my goodness, she just said the most wonderful thing she could have said,'" Harris reflected.
The key to the church's success was to establish themselves as a multiracial church from the very beginning.
Although the church faced its share of trials that come along with planting a church in a building formerly used by another congregation, they were also blessed with a supportive core remnant from the building's last tenants. The group of five or six joined the mission of what was then called Woodburn Baptist Church, Franklin campus. Harris noted that the handful of remaining members "humbly and beautifully joined us."
Another important component of the church's growth and success was the vision that Franklin Community's pastor, Eric Walker, brought when he transitioned from a staff member at Woodburn to lead pastor at Franklin Community.
"God uniquely gifted this man to do exactly what he is doing. He was born to pastor Franklin Community Church. He's just amazing," Harris said.
He continued, "He's just that guy that doesn't relate to people in terms of race or color. He sees deeper and more clearly. He just preaches Jesus. That's irresistible."
Walker says the key is love.
"The church needs to go out into the neighborhoods and bring people in, regardless of their situations. But what happens when they get here? Does your pastor know how to talk to the drug addict or the girl who has been on pills all of her life? We have to relate to messed up, hurting people. We have to be real and love like crazy," he explained.
And that's what the church does. Each week the congregation ranges from drug addicts to businesspeople. Their Celebrate Recovery program sees over 160 souls in it on a weekly basis, and during the summer months, their congregation is lined up outside the front doors awaiting entrance.
"In church on Sunday we see police officers and the folks they locked up last week. We have people who invite their exes to the service and mothers who invite their baby-daddies that are strung out on drugs. We have recovering addicts and parents who are now coming because their kids have gotten saved at Franklin Community Church."
Walker continued, "I want to meet people right where they're at and be a pastor to the city of Franklin if I can. I'm at the schools, the city commission, the hospital, the projects, the jail."
He added, "It's not about building a church -- it's about building up people."
This article appeared in the Western Recorder (westernrecorder.org), newsjournal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. Myriah Snyder is assistant editor for the Western Recorder.
Ga. church takes 'new
steps' to reach community
By Scott Barkley
FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. (Christian Index) -- In the gospels, Jesus spoke of the danger in putting old wine into new wineskins. One mistake people assume is this is a warning against the old wineskins themselves. Not so. For their purpose, those skins had worked well.
But the introduction of new wine caused a conflict, a tear, in the old skins. Trying to mix the two didn't work.
The same error can be made by churches today, in principle. Past ministry methods are still attempted, but don't bring the same result. The methods themselves aren't bad, per se. But to gain ground, new methods need to be ventured. Steps need to be taken.
McDonough Road Baptist Church has 70 years of experience among its staff. Consider them the old wineskins. However, this where they -- and by extension, the church -- differ from the items mentioned in Scripture. Seeing a decline over the years, McDonough Road has sought to renew its footprint.
It's taking new steps in reaching the community with the Gospel, a community that looks much different than when the church began in 1921.
The opportunity presented through change
A community changing is nothing new for churches. Neighborhoods that were overwhelmingly white for a long time become more diverse as African American, Hispanic, Asian, and a number of other ethnic populations arrive for one reason or another. That fact of life holds especially true for the metro Atlanta area.
It's a setup that makes Pastor David Chancey smile. In his position for 18 years, he's leading a change for McDonough Road.
"We're being very intentional on ministering where God has placed us," he comments. "Our focus is to be on mission and connect in as many ways as we can to have openings to share the Gospel.
"Even though the area has changed from where our history has been, we're embracing the change. We're trying to advance the kingdom of God and love the people God has entrusted to us."
The call for MRBC, he asserts, has never changed, not since the start.
"God has entrusted this to us. We don't want to neglect or overlook this mission field," Chancey stresses.
"By the grace of God we've been blessed with a lot of different folks from different backgrounds coming into the church."
Chancey guesses about a quarter of the church's Sunday morning worship crowd is non-Anglo. Some weeks it's higher. Recently, three of MRBC's five newly-ordained deacons were African American. That wasn't a first, either. In addition to deacon, African Americans have held other positions of leadership such as Sunday School teacher, committee member, and chairperson of the Finance team.
Advantage in experience
Chancey points to several areas of strength in the church. And, he can't express enough the leadership given through his staff.
Mark Karki recently celebrated 15 years at the church. And while his gifts are evident every Sunday as minister of worship, his role in the church's Upward Sports ministry is just as vital.
"We have kids involved in football, cheerleading, basketball and soccer," Chancey lists. "Every year kids come to Christ. We do our best to connect with the families, many of whom don't go to church."
The biggest season, he says, is football and cheerleading. More than 100 kids involved bring out parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and more on Saturday mornings. It's a legitimate tailgate atmosphere, adds Chancey.
Associate Pastor of Education David Smith holds 33 years of ministry at the church. As such, his role in developing education programs and missions education has filtered throughout the congregation. This has led to strong ministries among singles as well as women, Chancey testifies. A group of 22 singles recently went on a retreat to Camp Kaleo, with plans for a mission trip to the Dominican Republic.
Other ongoing mission partnerships exist in Carson City, Tenn., New Orleans, Brazil, and Mobile, Ala. Around 67 church members took advantage of those missions opportunities last year.
Connecting through schools and service
Mike Gable began as the church's student minister in 2014 and has since been re-positioned as minister of family life. "He basically stays with students from diapers to diplomas," explains Chancey. "One of the things we're building under his leadership is stronger relationships with local schools."
This school year, McDonough Road prepared pre-game meals for the football teams at Whitewater, Fayette County, and Lovejoy high schools. Similarly, since before Christmas the church has fed the Lovejoy girls basketball team. In that theme, they also fed the faculties of Kemp Primary School and Kemp Elementary School during Christmas. Later this spring, the church will provide Kemp Elementary with six bicycles for prizes in student achievement.
This article appeared in the Christian Index (christianindex.org), newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention. Scott Barkley is production manager for the Christian Index.
Sponsoring churches key
to church plants' success
By Tobin Perry
CLEBURNE, Texas (Southern Baptist TEXAN) -- If you were to take a long look at Cleburne, Texas, you'd likely come away with all sorts of observations. At 30,000 people, it's not a big city or a small town. It's a community full of young families with a large contingent of older citizens who have called it home for decades. It's just on the fringes of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.
But when church planter John Turner looks at Cleburne, he sees a city desperate for more gospel-preaching local churches.
"We're a year old," Turner said of his new Cleburne church plant, The Hill Church. "They were either traveling out of town to find a church that meets the needs of the family or people who were in town but hadn't found a church that was for them."
In its first 12 months of life, the new church has doubled in attendance from 30 to 60. Turner believes the church is on the cusp of even greater growth in 2018.
But it's only possible because of partner churches like Graceview Baptist Church in Burleson. Turner says Graceview's partnership, and in particular his relationship with the church's pastor, Aaron Scarbrough, has helped him have a sense of community and support during an intense first year of the church's history.
"Having community with other men doing ministry who are open to dialogue, open to share their experiences, open to sharing their resources, that's a big deal when you're starting a church," Turner said.
Graceview is one of 25 churches that the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention honored in 2017 with its Antioch award, as a partnering church to a new church plant. David Alexander, the SBTC church planting director, says the award brings to the forefront the sacrifices partners make. Partners like Graceview play a key role in the convention's efforts to start churches throughout the state.
"Partnering with a new church plant is a significant investment of time and resources," Alexander said. "We wanted to acknowledge that. It's very important. Church planters couldn't do it without the investment from primary sponsoring churches."
Alexander noted that when people talk about supporting church plants they tend to think first about finances. Although the financial support from sponsoring churches is critical to a planter's ability to get a new work started, he says it may be the least important kind of support partnering churches provide for new church starts. He noted the critical parts both prayer support and mentoring play in the development of new churches. The mentoring relationship doesn't develop just between the partnering pastor and the church planter but also extends to the lay leadership efforts of the two churches, such as the deacons and the finance teams.
"This [new church plant] is their child," Alexander said. "The convention is not planting this church. We are facilitating this SBTC church that has decided to become the primary sponsor. We are helping them give birth to this new church. We want partnering churches to take primary ownership of this church plant."
Graceview got involved in church planting partnerships after Scarbrough led the church through a replanting process in 2011. Scarbrough says he wanted to help other church planters learn the lessons he and his team learned the hard way. Graceview became an SBTC church planting center, where prospective church planters could come and learn from the church and then be sent out. Graceview worked with two different SBTC church plants in 2017 and is beginning the process of partnering with a Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary student moving to Boston to plant a new church.
As Graceview prepares to send out new church planters, Scarbrough meets weekly with them as a group and one or two times a month. The church planters also participate in elder meetings, lead one of the church's small groups and attend the church's yearly planning meetings.
"It's more of an immersion into the church than it is a program," Scarbrough said. "That's really the only way guys can learn the things we know. You can sit in a classroom and you can tell them all of those things, but until you have to interact with someone in a small group who might not like their teaching or get up in the pulpit and preach through a passage they had to struggle through because they are not used to that genre yet, you haven't properly prepared them. Those are the kind of things I try to walk through with them."
Scarbrough says the benefits of supporting a new church plant aren't just felt by the planter or the planting church. The sending church is blessed, too.
"It's definitely good for Graceview because [our congregation] recognizes that the Gospel isn't just important for our church but for other churches, too," Scarbrough added. "That's something church planting does that no other thing really can do. When you have a foreign mission focus, you say, 'The Gospel is good over there.' When you have a local missions focus, you say, 'The Gospel is good down the street.' But very rarely do we think of the towns surrounding us, because we tend to think that other churches are taking care of that. Church planting says, 'No, we have to be intentional everywhere.'"
Scarbrough notes that his own personal ministry has been stretched through his relationship with church planters.
"It keeps me out of a rut," Scarbrough said. "When I work with these guys, I am constantly having to examine my life. I have to examine my convictions and ask myself if I have fallen into a pattern of the 'same old, same old.'"
To learn more about the church planting ministry of the SBTC, visit sbtexas.com/churchplanting.
EDITOR'S NOTE: From the States, published each Tuesday by Baptist Press, relays news and feature stories from state Baptist papers and other publications on initiatives by Baptist churches, associations and state conventions in evangelism, church planting and Great Commission outreach, including partnership missions. Reports about churches, associations and state conventions responding to the International Mission Board's call to embrace the world's unengaged, unreached people groups also are included in From the States, along with reports about church, associational and state convention initiatives in conjunction with the North American Mission Board's call to Southern Baptist churches to broaden their efforts in starting new churches and satellite campuses. Except for minor style, security, formatting and grammatical changes, the items appear in Baptist Press as originally published.
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