SIKESTON – Many hurdles line the path of a successful church plant, and sometimes a new congregation can use a boost so it can move on to the next phase of transforming lives and communities with the gospel.
The hurdles can be spiritual, but they also can be as mundane as too few chairs, or lights that are too dim to allow for webcasting, or the lack of a video camera to help share new believers’ stories on social media.
That’s where Next Steps Requests come in, and where the gifts of Missouri Baptists through the Cooperative Program (CP) and the Missouri Missions Offering (MMO) come in.
CP is the funding process Southern Baptists have used since 1925 to support missions at the state, national, and global levels. MMO is the annual state missions offering.
“We’re looking for anything that can catapult church planters to the next level,” said Rick Hedger, the Missouri Baptist Convention’s (MBC) catalyst for multiplying churches. “It’s something specific that God is leading them toward, but they may not have the resources to make it happen. For example, if it’s a new church that’s trying to reach the next generation, Next Step funding can help reach the next level with a website and social media.”
Anchor Church in Sikeston is one beneficiary of the Next Step program. Church planter Jason Davis and the young church have used the program three times since 2013. Most recently, they were butting up against lack of seating space during worship.
“We’ve been using old aluminum folding chairs since we started,” Davis said. “Not only had we run out of them, but they were breaking down from usage. As silly as it sounds, chairs are a big deal. We were running out, and people were having to stand up during the service. Others, who have back issues, simply can’t sit in those types of chairs. Standing up because we ran out is a good problem to have; standing up because of back issues is a bad problem.”
Anchor Church calculated the costs of new, non-folding, cushioned chairs, and raised 60 percent of the money before hitting a wall. Looking to take that next step, they made a request through the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) for assistance with the remainder.
After prayerfully evaluating requests like Anchor Church’s, Hedger and his fellow MBC church multipliers can recommend full or partial funding for the request – or say no if the need isn’t strategically aligned with the MBC’s vision of transforming lives and communities with the gospel.
“We seldom fund the entire project because we want it to be a true partnership,” Hedger said.
Anchor Church’s request was approved, and the chairs were purchased and delivered in December.
“It’s been a boost for our congregation,” Davis said. “It’s a blessing straight from the Lord to partner toward something we couldn’t do on our own.”
Other Next Step requests have provided Bibles for a special event, banners, signage, a few months’ rent at school gym, and coffee shop equipment to provide a community gathering space on Whiteman Air Force Base.
“Because Missouri Baptists give through their local churches to the Cooperative Program and the Missouri Missions Offering, and churches are able to reach that next step, a family might come to a church plant, hear the Gospel, and come to faith in Christ,” said Hedger. “No church is too big or too small, and no person’s gift is too large to too meager, to make an impact for the kingdom.”
To learn more about the Cooperative Program, visit mobaptist.org/cp.