Staying true to the heart of MBC church planting
By Allen Palmeri
November 18, 2003
FAUCETT – New Harvest Baptist Church , a vibrant congregation of 50 in the growing Interstate 29 corridor south of St. Joseph , stands as an example of a Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) church plant overcoming obstacles.
Church planter Joe Voga has felt a sense of isolation known by many church planters. Voga wrote candidly to The Pathway in a series of e-mails about the challenges New Harvest has faced in establishing itself as a church.
“While there are certainly similarities in pastorates anywhere, the demands upon church planters are much more exaggerated," Voga said.
Established pastors have a hard time relating to a church planter who often does not have a building, secure finances and sufficient lay leadership, Voga said. The prospect of encountering a church planter who is also serving as a pastor, a secretary and an administrator can make an established pastor uncomfortable.
“I believe many pastors are interested in the church planting movement, but cannot relate to — or understand the differences of — an established setting versus a new work," said Voga, whose church was launched on Resurrection Sunday 2002.
“The pastorate in any environment is filled with great highs and lows. It seems much more dramatic as a church planter. The highs are higher and the lows are lower, primarily because in the back of our minds is always the realization that even one problem can cause the premature death of a church plant."
Staying connected to the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) and the office of Jerry Field, state church planting director, has been important to Voga. That means staying connected to Clyde Elder, director of missions for the St. Joseph Baptist Association, and Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Edgerton, New Harvest’s mother church.
“This was an intentional church plant in a high-growth rural area, so we really wanted to help him," Elder said.
Mt. Zion sent some families to help teach Sunday School and lead worship. “Without their financial and personnel support, I’m not sure we would be anywhere close to what we are doing today," Voga said.
New Harvest has grown from four members to its present size thanks to each member serving the body. A blended style of worship has attracted members young and old, from twentysomethings to eightysomethings. The older members have been a great source of wisdom and stability, Voga said.
Evangelism remains a high priority. Elder said the church has already distinguished itself by winning new people to Christ, as opposed to attracting members from existing churches. New Harvest’s strong prayer life from the beginning has been an inspiration to other churches in the association, Elder added.
Meeting in a school presents a long-term challenge, Voga said. About $40,000 is being raised to go toward the purchase of 10 acres of property for a church building, he said. If the church buys five acres the owner of the property will donate the other five acres, Voga said. Churches within the association are partnering with New Harvest to help the church meet its goal.
“On the West Coast, you can grow churches to thousands of people without having a building," Voga said. “In rural America you cannot. A building demonstrates permanence and stability. Additionally, people in our area fear you may be a cult if you meet in a school."
Voga has produced a 30-minute video for churches who may be interested in partnering with New Harvest. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org to request a copy.