New year, new beginnings, new start, new work
January 14, 2005
I really do not like black-eyed peas! For more than 50 years, I am relatively certain that I have expressed this dislike to my mother and she continually tells me that eating them on New Year’s Day is a good thing. In spite of all protests and her explanations, I still have absolutely NO IDEA why, she still tries to get me to eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. It’s just “tradition.” Hog jowl, black-eyed peas and boiled cabbage … to me, this is a strange tradition that needs to die.
When you think of strange traditions, New Year’s celebrations seem to take the cake. I am sure there are many more, but I found at least 25 different weeks and days set aside for special observance in January, the beginning of a new year. How about (I am NOT making these up) National Get Organized Month, Jump Out of Bed Month, or Oatmeal Month? And there are many more. Well, what new directions are you setting this year? Let me suggest a new tradition that will have eternal rewards and impact. How about “Let’s Start A Church this Year?”
It is vital that more and more of our existing Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) churches get involved in this at some level and somewhere in the world. I am talking about involvement that is over and above Cooperative Program giving to missions. Why should I get involved at yet another level? I am so glad you asked that question. Let me give you a few short answers.
First, starting churches is a biblical mandate. Jesus did not make it an option when He personally spoke, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them … teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; …” (Matt. 28:19-20). The best way to make disciples is to get converts into a Bible believing and teaching church.
Second, it is a biblical pattern, we find in the Book of Acts. When Jesus ascended into heaven in chapter one, we are reminded once again by Jesus to “… be My witnesses … and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8). What did this first generation of Christians do? They went everywhere as witnesses, planting churches. (Note, it was the lay folk who went, not the apostles [preachers]. Compare Acts 8:1 and verse 4.) They did so, not just by addition, but by multiplication! As the numbers of believers continued to increase, Luke stopped counting persons and told us that churches multiplied. “So the churches were being strengthened in the faith, and were increasing in number daily” (Acts 16:5.)
Third, there is an enormous need in Missouri. Consider that on any given Sunday morning there are approximately 180,000 souls in Sunday School. Drop out twenty-five percent (45,000) that may comprise the nursery through elementary school aged souls and that would leave us with an army of potential “soldiers” of the cross of around 135,000. Now, consider that we live in a state of 5.5 million souls! Based on these numbers, let me ask you two questions, “Do you believe there is a need for more churches? Do you believe there is room for more churches in Missouri?” YOU BET! So the need is enormous. Now add to the need our strategic partnerships with Romania, Colorado and Puerto Rico. New churches are the key to multiplying the kingdom on this earth.
Fourth, we have some heroes of the faith we need to encourage and support. These are church planting pastors and their wives who are on the front line of fulfilling this biblical mandate and establishing the biblical pattern of Acts in our state. In my eyes, they truly are HEROES! Every one of our 2,050-plus MBC/SBC churches had a pioneering pastor who started the work. Most of us are enjoying the fruit of those labors, prayers and vision. Today, we have a new generation of church planting pastors. Many of these HEROES are bi-vocational. Many are young, first-time pastors who need mentors and encouragers. Most need effective worship leaders to stand with them in every worship service.
At present, each member of our Church Planting Missionary Team at the MBC is working with up to 30 different potential church planters and new churches. Fact is, they can’t do much more. Our goal is to start 100 new churches in the next 10 consecutive years. This year, they saw the Lord set a new record in Missouri of 55 new churches in Missouri in one year. How can we ever reach 100? We can’t without you.
Here is where you and your church are immediately needed. We need mentoring/encouraging congregations and pastors to adopt-a-church planter. These contemporary heroes need encouragement. How can you help? First, faithfully pray for one you adopt; then put the new work in your church budget. Perhaps a ladies group of your church would adopt a wife and give her periodic gift certificates for new dresses or a restaurant gift certificate for her and her pastor-husband to have a “date night;” monthly pound them with groceries. Some of you may need to join the new church for one year to give our heroes the workers’ hands and feet that a new church needs. (My wife and I have joined a newly started church.) After a year of “missionary service” you can return to your home church.
Many of these church planters need a seasoned pastor to meet with them for prayer, strategic planning, mentoring and, most importantly, fellowship. Pastors, set aside one day every two weeks for a church planter. Spend a year or two with them. Make a strategic investment of your life in another. Someone helped you, didn’t they?
Let me close this article with some victory stories. There are dozens to share, but in this article, I am going to share an e-mail note that Ken McCune, MBC’s church-planting catalytic missionary in Springfield, sent to me just a few days ago:
“… a church plant being launched on January 2 at 10:30 am at Rockaway Beach. This is being sponsored by FBC Branson and is the town where casino gambling was voted down by statewide vote in 2004. The church planter is Vince Blubaugh and he will be leading a core group that will reach out to the community through much needed ministry and, of course, the sharing of the Word of God.
“Another (new church being started) is a Second Generation and Beyond church that will plant this year in South Hollister. The sponsor church, Ozark Mountain Community Church (OMCC), is itself only seven years old, and is taking a step of faith in giving birth to yet another church, who will from day one begin preparing to plant yet another church. The new congregation will be called New Beginnings Fellowship and its church planter/pastor will be Dennis Webb who has served as associate pastor at OMCC. A commissioning service for Dennis, his wife, and those who will form the new church’s core group will be held at 10:30 a.m. January 9 at OMCC in Blue Eye.
“Both of these church plants are in areas of great need for the gospel and are part of the Tri-County Association, which includes Branson, Ozark, Nixa, Hollister, Blue Eye, etc. This association has had a surge of church planting these past two years.”
Want to be part of something like this? Then, right now, you can call (800) 736-6227 extension 610 and leave a message. Your call will be returned. This works 24/7/365. During office hours you will get the office of Jerry Field, director of church planting for the MBC.
How about a new year, new beginnings, new start, new work and a new tradition? This is a Biblical tradition that is really as old as the Book of Acts. Don’t miss this opportunity to stock up many eternal rewards. Start something new — but please, no black-eyed peas for me!