MBC church planting producing fruit in ’03
42 new churches sprout
By Allen Palmeri
October 7, 2003
JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) produced more church starts in the first three quarters of 2003 than for all of 2002 – and it is being powered by unprecedented church planting efforts among ethnic groups.
Jerry Field, state director of church planting, reported 42 church plants as of Sept. 30. That compares to 39 for 2002. Of the church plants so far for 2003, more than half are multi-cultural.
MBC Executive Director David Clippard, who includes church planting as one of his priorities, set a goal of 60 church plants for 2003. Field said his team will make a run at that number.
"I believe we’ll go over 50," Field said. "I think we’ve got 10 more, but I don’t know that we’ve got 18 more."
Exemplary effort by church planting team members Ben Hess, John Mark Clifton, Ken McCune, Mauricio Vargas and Vivian McCaughan resulted in a summer surge of new congregations, Field said. With the church planting team now in place, Field said the MBC goal of 100 starts in 2004 is coming into view.
"I think we’re really well-positioned where we could see that 100 next year," he said, mentioning how comfortable Hess and Clifton are beginning to feel in St. Louis and Kansas City, respectively.
Vargas had a particularly fruitful summer working with Hispanic, Korean and Chinese flocks, Field said. Thus far 22 multi-cultural churches have been planted, compared to 17 for all of 2002. Vargas said for the last 15 years the MBC average has been only 10-12 a year.
"This is the most productive year we’ve had in multi-cultural work," Field said. "He’s been able to empower Hispanic leaders, pass off leadership to them, and now they’re really beginning to surge ahead."
Under the previous MBC regime, Field would have to take off his church planting hat and don his evangelism hat to prepare for the state evangelism conference in January. Now he is free to be a visionary.
"Right now, I can begin to think and pray and look at 2004," he said.
Church planting centers in St. Louis, Kansas City and Springfield are being developed as much of the church planting training is shifted out of Jefferson City and into each of those cities. Hopefully the result will be multiple church plants in the years to come, Field said. Hess, Clifton and McCune are being trained to launch these centers in January.
"From that point forward, the major focus of training will be in the region and adapted to the specific needs of those planters in the region," Field said.