Graham Crusade aids MBC in church planting effort
By Allen Palmeri
April 27, 2004
JEFFERSON CITY – The North American Mission Board (NAMB) and the multicultural division of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) church planting department are partnering to use the Billy Graham Crusade June 17-20 in Kansas City as part of an overall strategy to plant up to 12 new churches.
Mauricio Vargas, multicultural catalytic missionary in MBC church planting, is the visionary behind the strategy. It involves Bible institute training at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, a May 30 concert at Pleasant Valley Baptist Church , Liberty , featuring Costa Rican singer Danilo Montero, and a June 11-12 meeting in Trenton for key Hispanic leaders.
The goal is to feed off of the energy of the crusade and establish new works in Kansas City . Vargas has already identified five potential areas where Hispanic churches could be planted — Blue Springs, Independence, Smithville, Grandview and Belton. Other new churches could be Korean, Chinese or Native American, he said.
“We feel like the Graham Crusade is the most incredible Godsend that we can use as a catalyst for helping to move us closer to that 100 church plants (the MBC’s goal) this year,” said Jerry Field, state church planting director. “An event like this is going to cross all cultures, all barriers.”
Vargas has been developing leadership in Hispanic pastors like Luis Mendoza, Lisandro Gonzalez, Heber Mena and Obed Aguirre. Mendoza is serving as the Kansas City Hispanic coordinator and will be the point man for the strategy, Vargas said.
“The last two years, I have seen something beautiful happening in Kansas City with the Hispanics,” Vargas said.
Part of that beauty is Contextualized Leadership Development (CLD). Vargas has been teaching classes starting April 17 which he hopes will lead to a practicum in church planting. It extends the work he has done previously in Springfield and Joplin where he taught Christians to be active in their churches while awarding them a diploma in Christian ministries.
At the June 11-12 meeting in Trenton , Hispanic leaders will receive copies of Vivir en Cristo, which is Billy Graham material in Spanish. By using the Gospel of John in Spanish, Vargas hopes to win converts during the crusade and steer them into new Hispanic church plants.
The concert at Pleasant Valley could draw as many as 2,000 people, Vargas said. Hispanics who become Christians that evening can come to the Graham Crusade with their non-Christian friends and family. The goal is to facilitate faith within the Kansas City area. Vargas sees nothing but potential in each of those cities where he has identified people groups with a need.
“I went to Belton one day and I pulled into McDonald’s. The first thing I saw was a Salvadorian flag in one car,” said Vargas, a native of El Salvador . “Everybody cooking the hamburgers was Hispanic. Everybody in front was Hispanic. I looked around to see which one was the Salvadorian, and I asked this fellow, ‘Is that your car?’ He said, ‘Yeah.’ I said, ‘I saw the flag, I’m Salvadorian.’
“He began to tell me about all the workers, from south Kansas City , and all of them spoke Spanish. There are so many Hispanics in south Kansas City , and they need a church.”
State Evangelism Director Bob Caldwell is partnering with Vargas and NAMB to help the multicultural church planting strategy succeed.
NAMB’s involvement is twofold. Both the church planting team and the evangelism team will participate in the partnership, Field said.
“We believe that a Billy Graham Crusade is always a seedbed for all kinds of different types of ministry, but one of the greatest of all is starting new churches,” Caldwell said. “This thing will work. I think church planting, to one degree, is evangelism at its best.”
Heart of America Billy Graham pre-crusade schedule
The Pathway will provide regular updates on events leading up to the Heart of America Billy Graham Crusade June 17-20 at Arrowhead Stadium. This update centers on choir rehearsals. For more information on how you can participate, visit www.heartofamericacrusade.org or phone (816) 361-8484.
May 18, 20, 21, 22: Choir Rehearsals. To be held Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 10 a.m. Singers are encouraged to attend one of the rehearsals and then the final rehearsal on Crusade week. Tuesday’s rehearsal is at Pleasant Valley Baptist Church, Liberty. Thursday’s is at First Family Church, Overland Park, Kan. Friday’s is at St. Stephen Baptist Church, Kansas City and Saturday’s is at Sheffield Family Life Center, Kansas City.