Longenecker reports for duty as missions volunteer
By Allen Palmeri
May 31, 2005
JEFFERSON CITY – Gary Longenecker tried to retire from full-time ministry work in January when he stepped down after 14 years as senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Lebanon.
But Longenecker, 64, has a desire to reach the nations with the transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ. As such, retirement is not really an option. He tends to not be about his golf game, his tan, or his stock options.
“I went from one job to three,” Longenecker said.
He hopes to be doing missions for at least the next 10 years through the partnered ministries of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC), Global Focus and the International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention. MBC Partnership Missions Specialist Norm Howell has deployed Longenecker and about a half dozen other Missouri Baptist leaders as “Acts 1:8 Challenge Multipliers” who have set out to both train and mentor missions volunteers in churches.
“The thing that I really enjoy doing is helping mobilize churches,” Longenecker said.
Through existing partnerships that the MBC has with Romania, Iraq/Turkey, Colorado and Puerto Rico, volunteers like Longenecker have plenty of opportunities to participate. He is particularly passionate about short-term mission trips that can lead to church plants overseas.
“Our church has planted several churches,” he said. “We’d like for churches in Missouri to catch a vision of how they can be involved in church planting, working in the partnership that we have with the Missouri Baptist Convention.”
Longenecker leads seminars through Global Focus, a Georgia-based ministry founded by Larry Reesor in 1995, as a means of working churches through an 18-month process of becoming a fully orbed Acts 1:8 congregation. Reesor is a member of First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Ga., who believes that the local church is God’s primary instrument to fulfill the Great Commission.
“Our goal is to make the church function the way God wants it to function,” Longenecker said.
The IMB part of Longenecker’s ministry is connected to the Iraq/Turkey partnership. By working with a people group, the IMB hopes to reach three million souls over five years. Longenecker has made a vision trip to the land to prayer walk, hand out Bibles and distribute the Jesus film among the members of the people group.
Global Focus has a goal to teach five million leaders by 2015, thus mobilizing 500,000 churches and 50 million Christians for global missions.