ST. JOSEPH – Frederick Boulevard Baptist Church here strives to bring glory to God with its church planting, discipleship, missions-giving and going, says its pastor, Micah Fries. Three years ago, the church emphasized just missions-giving, with an occasional mission trip.
“When I first got here, we had two budgets – missions and evangelism,” said Fries, pastor since 2007 of the church where some 650 people participate in Sunday morning worship. Fries also serves as second vice president of the Missouri Baptist Convention.
“We consolidated that. We believe viewing missions and evangelism separately is an unhealthy – and unbiblical – division.
Missions is not what we do – it’s who we are. Our behavior is the same wherever we are. Evangelism is not distinct from missions, here or there, across the street or across the world.”
Or across North America. Frederick Boulevard has church plants and church partners in California, North Dakota and Wisconsin, and the church is in the process of solidifying new partnerships in Missouri. The church also is a generous supporter of missions causes. Its proposed 2011 budget calls for almost 25 percent of undesignated funds to go to missions – up from 22 percent in 2010, on its way toward the pastor’s personal goal of 50 percent – and that doesn’t include its seasonal missions giving. In 2010, church members gave a record $22,845 to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering (AAEO) for North American Missions.
“When it comes to AAEO time, we don’t do too much in terms of special promotion,” Fries said. “We talk about it at every service, we show videos of the work, but I think what we’ve done more importantly – which takes longer but is more effective in the long run – is that we’ve worked hard to create a culture of sacrifice, particularly to the mission of God.
“We talk about that constantly,” Fries said. “When you consider poverty around the world, we’re opulent (in the
United States). How are we maximizing these excessive resources?”
One way is through the North American Mission Board.
“I think there is no domestic organization in the United States that has the potential of the North American Mission Board to push back lostness,” the pastor said. “I am convinced that God’s great purpose, His great plan, is to advance His glory, and He does that primarily through advancing His kingdom. Our purpose is to join Him in that effort, to advance His glory by pushing back lostness.”
Frederick Boulevard often does that in partnership with other Southern Baptist churches. When it joined with a church being planted in the Mission Bay area of San Francisco, it was with a church experienced in church planting in the United States. When a year later the church joined in with a church being planted near Bismarck, N.D., it was with a smaller church that wanted to be part of a church plant but wasn’t able to do it alone.
Frederick Boulevard, which has acquired “significant amounts of research from other churches,” also is developing a partnership with Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, in which students learn what it looks like to be a church passionate about missions through a pastoral internship program at the church. That goal is for students then to be “turned loose” to serve as church planters or pastors who will then lead their churches to be equally passionate about God’s mission.
“We’re convinced that the locus of God’s kingdom is the local church,” Fries said. “We want to be committed to church planting and partnering with local churches wherever we’re at. We don’t want to come in and say, ‘Here is our plan, this is what we want to do.’ We want them [the church plant] to drive the ship, developing strategy, so that it’s local church-centered – making disciples happen through local New Testament churches.”
Making disciples is one of the “pillars” of Frederick Boulevard’s missions strategy, Fries said. That’s why they usually make extended commitments to their partners, often 4-5 years or more, if necessary.
“We’re called to make disciples, and you can’t do that in a week,” Fries said. “We are committed to making disciples, not just converts. We’re passionate about evangelism that leads to discipleship. We want to help people become a committed follower of Jesus Christ, people who will deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him.”
Fries believes missions starts with Christians living like followers of Christ – refraining from materialism for the sake of acquisition; participating in weekly corporate worship; involved in a missions enterprise locally, nationally or globally – who reach out to their friends, neighbors and co-workers with what then can be experienced as the transforming power of God’s grace.
“Frederick Boulevard Baptist Church exists to help those who are disconnected from God to become committed followers of Jesus Christ,” Fries said. “We believe that God has given us a strategy for knowing Him, becoming like Him and serving Him. We believe that strategy is summed up in three simple words: Gospel. Community. Mission.
“God intends for us to grow in His Gospel,” the pastor continued. “His desire is for us to become more and more like Jesus and He intends for this to happen in the context of biblical community. The great purpose of our lives, once we have believed God’s Gospel, is to then join God in His mission to the world. We bring glory to God as we trust Him and as we serve people from our local communities to the ends of the globe, and share with them the story of God’s grace.”
KAREN WILLOUGHBY / contributing writer