O’Fallon church plant experiences power of church, MBC sponsorship
O’FALLON—Three years of funding by the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC), two years by the North American Mission Board (NAMB), and ongoing support by six Missouri Baptist churches and two associations all add up to one very blessed church planter named Jeremy Plymale.
The 33-year-old pastor of CrossHaven Church in O’Fallon knows that the congregation would have never grown in 2007 from around 30 to around 100 had it not been for sponsors.
“I think we’re where we’re at now because lots of people made lots of sacrifices of their time and their money to get us through the hard times,” said Plymale, son of Jim Plymale, director of missions, Franklin Baptist Association, Union.
The concept of CrossHaven began in November 2004 with the backing of both the MBC and NAMB. Jeremy Plymale was a bit unsure of how to proceed until his grandmother died in late February 2005 and family members who came in for the funeral agreed to be his core group.
“It was me, my brother and my sister, and their families—that’s it,” he said.
They wound up meeting for 1½ years on Sunday nights in a Presbyterian church before finding their identity as CrossHaven in a Sunday morning setting at Crossroads Elementary School, in the WingHaven area of O’Fallon.
“We want people to run to the cross as their haven,” Plymale said.
From their official launch on Easter 2007 in their new home to the promise of Easter 2008 on March 23, the church has been and is being blessed by the presence of more and more attendees.
“When we got to the school gym on Easter, we had a big push, and we had 60 people,” Plymale said. “We just kept doing outreach events and telling people about our church, and in July we had 70, in August we had 90. We’re around about the 100 barrier now, and now we’re working this Easter to push through it if we can.”
The active sponsorship of six churches and two associations has made it all possible.
The churches are: Mineola Baptist; First Baptist O’Fallon; First Baptist Lake St. Louis; New Florence Baptist; Dorsett Village Baptist in Maryland Heights; and Southside Baptist in Fulton.
The associations are Twin Rivers in Wright City and St. Louis Metro.
“This is one of the best pictures of cooperation that we can see,” said MBC Interim Executive Director David Tolliver. “This is the kind of thing we need to see repeated all over Missouri.”
Plymale has a special place in his heart for the $100 a month given by the first sponsor, Mineola, a church that runs about 100 in Sunday worship.
“I hope that’s a testimony that encourages lots of little churches all over Missouri,” he said. “Churches that are little can still have a major role in helping our Convention grow new churches.”
CrossHaven is built on being real, being relevant, and being relational. Its website, www.crosshavenchurch.com, is a crucial part of its strategy to reach people. Greg Lawrence, formerly a part-time staffer with First Baptist Church of Ellisville, has been running the site since 2006 and has been posting sermons online so people can download them and listen to Plymale’s preaching before they decide to visit the church for the first time.
“The website is the face of the church in the modern generation,” Plymale said. “Specifically, in our target area, which is young families, they’re on the Web. They’re going to visit our website before they’re going to visit our church. So I knew that was real important, and we’re so thankful that God gave us a guy who has done such a good job.”
Plymale and his wife, Amber, are both graduates of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary who served for two years as International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries to Malaysia.
“I’m a young Southern Baptist, and I’m not ashamed of that,” he said. “We’ve got the Baptist Faith & Message linked to our website. We’ve done the study in six weeks.”
He said he would like to see many more Missouri Baptist churches planted all over the state, including one that would spring forth one day from CrossHaven.
“Find a church planter in your area and do whatever you can to sponsor him,” he said. “We just need so many churches to get started in our state Convention. We can’t do it unless our existing churches will step up to the plate and sponsor churches.”