Kansas City retreat helps bulid church-planting momentum
By Allen Palmeri
March 2, 2004
KANSAS CITY – The Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) church planting department is in the process of decentralizing its training so that church-planting centers in St. Louis , Kansas City and Springfield can propel the convention toward its goal of 100 new church plants in 2004.
MBC Anglo Catalytic Missionary John Mark Clifton is pleased with how his center is taking shape in Kansas City. On Jan. 30-31, 56 people attended a banquet at the Adam’s Mark Hotel, with 45 staying throughout the retreat.
“We were able to give them some hands-on training in church planting, talk about developing leaders, how to reach the lost effectively, how to grow a healthy church and how to grow a healthy family while you’re growing a church," Clifton said.
Clifton said that an extended statement of purpose and unity from out of a notebook given to every Kansas City church planter at the retreat is a constant source of encouragement.
“Southern Baptists love church planters," the statement begins. “You are here this weekend because 45,000 Southern Baptist churches in the U.S. and specifically the 2,000 Missouri Baptist Convention churches want to invest in you and your ministry. This weekend you are experiencing first-hand the fruits of the Cooperative Program and associational missions.
“We as Southern Baptists realize the USA is a vast mission field, and we’re asking God to pour out His Spirit on this land. We long to see a movement of church planting that will transform our nation. We have asked God to call out church planters and church-planting partners. You are an answer to that prayer. We want to do all we can do to assist your ministry. To that end, we are investing in you this weekend, and we are confident it is a wise investment," Clifton emphasized.
“From the very beginning, every new church needs to be a part of the Cooperative Program. By giving to missions, you have supported more than 20,000 missionaries in the United States and 120 countries around the world. The time to build mission DNA in your church plant is today. The single, most wonderful aspect of being in relationship with Southern Baptists is our commitment to missions here in the U.S. and around the world. Each year, Southern Baptists in the U.S. are used of God to plant 1,500 new churches. You are part of the most dynamic church-planting group in the United States, and we’re glad you’re here."
The energy created by the retreat is helping Clifton build a climate that is conducive to church planting.
“That means giving church planters a sense of momentum, a sense of kinship in what they’re doing, and also helping them understand how they plug into the associations and the state convention," he said.
“The sense of connection among church planters in the city was the best to me. The peer learning that took place and the sharing of one another’s burdens and joys, feeling like they found a peer group who would support them in their work—that really solidified at this retreat."
By unleashing the creative energy within the MBC’s church planting department, the staff believes that each catalytic missionary is going to nurture their share of church plants so that the MBC can meet its goal of 100. Clifton explained how such a Missouri-wide church planting movement is taking shape.
“When it comes to church planting, it’s God who calls the church planters," Clifton said. “It’s God who calls the partnering churches. It’s God who gives the passion. It’s God who gives the vision. So what we want to do from the state convention standpoint is encourage that call and resource that call and equip that call—do all we can do to validate that call.
“We have people planting very traditional churches, but we also have churches being planted called simple churches, which are really single-cell house churches and everything in between. The models are as different as the city. If you look at greater Kansas City, it is a patchwork of all kinds of people groups and cultures and neighborhoods. So our churches have to reflect the diversity of the city but maintain obviously the singular focus of the Gospel message based on Scripture.
“We don’t really use the word control. We just use the word unleash, and empower. We try to really focus on making sure it’s based on the Bible."
Clifton, who was hired in July of 2003, has been meeting on Friday nights at Union Station with 15-25 church planters and their wives. The January retreat was a natural extension of those meetings. They hope to have another retreat in the fall.
“I do expect 20-25 new church plants in the greater Kansas City area this year," Clifton said.