MBC records 22 church plants in first half of year
By Allen Palmeri
JEFFERSON CITY – Last year the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) planted 20 churches by July 1 before finishing with a record number of 61 by Dec. 31.
MBC State Church Planting Director Jerry Field sees a similar pattern developing in 2006. The halfway number is 22, but Field is not dismayed.
It is too soon to tell whether the record production of the previous three years, from 47 to 55 to 61, will be extended. But it does appear as if the final number will once again fall short of the assigned goal of 100 new church starts a year.
“We cannot directly produce the numbers,” Field said. “That’s God’s business. We can provide a lot of the assets as well as the recruiting end of it, and all of that, but we are a couple of people removed from the actual going out and doing it.”
Two MBC church planting strategists who came on staff last fall, Ron Cathcart and Rick Biesiadecki, are beginning to make a difference, Field said.
“There are some very definite things beginning to happen—some new churches planted that are the direct result of their work,” Field said.
“They’ve got somewhere in the neighborhood of about 6-8 other new ones that should take place in the next 90 days.”
Kansas City is also becoming a factor again. No MBC church plants were recorded there last year, but already this year seven have emerged.
Field explained that his church planting strategists are not positioned to do the actual planting. Rather, they are there to provide training, mentoring and coaching as they discover and attract potential church planters, sponsoring churches and associations. In a nutshell, they cultivate relationships.
“We’re going to do everything we can to impact things in such a way that those numbers (100 on an annual basis) could be possible,” he said. “Our goal is ultimately to plant as many churches as God will allow us to plant in every given year.”
Field and his team are making “one significant change” for 2007 by centralizing the assessment portion of church planter evaluation while leaving the training to the specialists in the field. The Baptist Building will now host the assessment process.
“We’re going to do it (assessment) as a team to produce the most uniform method and system of assessing potential church planters,” Field said. “We decided that was a better way for us to go.”