Church plant takes off in Rockaway Beach
CP helped make it possible
By Lee Warren
January 25, 2005
ROCKAWAY BEACH — On Jan. 2, 35 people gathered for worship in Rockaway Beach as the doors of the Bridge of Faith Community Church opened for the first time. First Baptist Church, Branson, considered to be one of the strong sponsoring churches within the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC), planted Bridge of Faith as the only Baptist church in Rockaway Beach (population 600).
Vince Blubaugh, founding pastor and church planter, saw God’s hand in the church plant in Rockaway Beach after seeking God’s direction about where, if anywhere, he should plant a church.
“I began to pray about it and fast about it and God just laid it on my heart,” Blubaugh said. “Then I brought it before the Missions Development Committee at FBC Branson and they all picked a day where they fasted and prayed about it. We came back and it was a unanimous decision to go to Rockaway Beach.”
In addition to the unity of the Missions Development Committee at First Branson, Ken McCune, MBC church planting strategist, also pointed out that the church plant had other backing as well.
“It has been a real team concept,” McCune said. “FBC Branson has been especially involved in it, but also with support from the Tri-County Baptist Association and the Missouri Baptist Convention as well.”
Jim Wells, director of missions, Tri-County Baptist Association, said the time is right for something good to take root in Rockaway Beach.
“We want to do something positive in the Rockaway Beach community to influence the community spiritually, morally and socially in a way that will reach people with the Gospel of Christ for years to come,” Wells said.
Blubaugh is anxious to begin ministering to the people of Rockaway Beach—an economically depressed area where residents have been pursuing getting a riverboat casino, only to have a statewide vote on its approval fail last August. Bridge of Faith is already working on building a food pantry and clothes closet to help meet the needs of those in the area. Blubaugh is also planning to partner with the community to provide good, clean entertainment during the city’s annual July 4 celebration.
“We are going to be a very needs-based ministry,” Blubaugh said about his core group of 20 people who came with him from FBC Branson. “A lot of churches do a lot of self-service stuff and we’re not going to do hardly any of that. The majority of our energies and resources are going to be spent in the community.”
Blubaugh even attends chamber of commerce and city council meetings because he believes that helping the people of Rockaway Beach to make a good living is an important part of the work that Bridge of Faith can do to help the community. He has a background in business and has ideas for businesses that would help the local economy, including an idea to capitalize on cool water temperatures resulting from the Table Rock Dam by building a big trout fishing lodge.
“There is world-class trout fishing in Rockaway Beach because the cold water is ideal for trout,” Blubaugh said. “And right up the stream you have a trout hatchery.”
Wells said that Blubaugh is in an ideal position to accomplish great things in Rockaway Beach.
“I know Vince’s family from the Ozarks, and he is just bringing a lot of unique gifts in a non-traditional church plant that I believe will be a model in years to come in the Missouri Baptist Convention,” Wells said.
In addition to the ministry-minded core team from First Branson that Blubaugh brought with him to reach out to the people of Rockaway Beach, Blubaugh also considers Missouri Baptists who give to the Cooperative Program to be part of his ministry team.
“In a sense, every Southern Baptist church in Missouri owns a piece of Bridge of Faith,” he said. “The computer that I’m sitting at right now was provided to me by the Missouri Baptist Convention. Part of my salary comes from them and from NAMB (North American Mission Board). So everywhere I have an opportunity to be in front of people I like to say thank you for being faithful in giving to our Cooperative Program, because it is making a difference for the kingdom statewide, nationwide, worldwide. Together we can accomplish so many things that we can’t do separately.”