MBC focused on church planting
By Allen Palmeri
May 31, 2005
O’FALLON – Church planting ideas that run contrary to Western culture were front and center May 23-24 during the Acts 1:8 Global Missions Connection 2005 conference at First Baptist Church, O’Fallon.
Speakers Jim Slack and Bob Roberts took turns hammering away at American ideas about how to do church that typically do not pass the tests of Scripture. At one point, Roberts suggested that one needed to get on a plane and fly 12 hours somewhere to see what the real church is like.
“This is heavier thinking,” said Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Church Planting Director Jerry Field.
Slack, a well-known author who ministers through the International Mission Board, encouraged church planters to trust God to move mightily as they travel around the globe.
“The resources are in the harvest,” he said.
Roberts, a Southern Baptist pastor from Keller, Texas, who has seen 80 churches started, said his work was transformed when he realized he was called to the kingdom, as opposed to being called to preach. He then spent three years preaching the Sermon on the Mount.
“The kingdom of God is here and now,” Roberts said.
The kingdom of God is personal, intimate and relational, he said. It is a living, organic entity that produces much fruit and multiplies from within. This is what church planting movements overseas tend to look like. It is the Eastern model of discipleship, which is based more on practical application and behavioral transformation. The Western model of transferring information at seminaries pales in comparison, Roberts said.
In the West, church staff members are paid to be vocational ministers who serve under senior pastors/empire builders/CEOs. In the East, believers often minister the Gospel out of their various vocational callings, serving under heads of church planting movements who are humble, anonymous multipliers. Roberts, whose church works passionately in Vietnam, has learned to not get bogged down in the trappings of Americana as he attempts to teach, from Scripture, a kingdom and global focus.
“The biggest challenge we face is the whole definition of discipleship,” Roberts said.
Missouri Baptist pastors, directors of missions and church planters who were among the 140 registrants at the conference seemed to receive the challenging lectures positively.
“You can’t just stay in and build bigger churches and just wait for them to come to you,” said Jerry Williams, director of missions, Barry County Baptist Association, and second vice president, MBC. “You’ve got to get out where they are.”
Mike Parry, pastor, Fruitland Community Church, said the messages inspired him to get out and plant more churches.
“It just makes me want to do more,” Parry said. “These guys help me think outside the box and also give me a sense of urgency.”
Field said Slack and Roberts both hit the target.
“I feel really good about the reaction of the people who are here, the things they are saying to me and the questions I hear them asking,” Field said. “It’s exposure to some thinking that a number of them have not been exposed to before, but it really seems to be germinating. I really feel like there’s a real possibility out of this to help expand a good, positive climate but also kind of redirect away from more of an institutional view of planting churches to more of a missional-type of model.”
Slack said every human in the world has a right to hear about Jesus in his or her heart language.
“It helps us see that God’s a lot bigger than we think He is,” said Ron Barker, MBC personal evangelism/spiritual awakening specialist.