BRIDGETON—A get-acquainted meeting brought together Stephen Davis, Midwest Region vice president for the North American Mission Board (NAMB), and representatives from both the Missouri and Illinois state conventions.
Davis was in St. Louis to discuss the strategy to share the Gospel in larger cities that NAMB wants to pursue through a “Send” emphasis. Chicago, Cleveland, Indianapolis and St. Louis are the first Midwestern targets, with Minneapolis-St. Paul and Detroit to be added in 2012.
“We have so many densely populated areas across America,” Davis said. “We know that those areas of population represent a density of lostness. We also realize those highly populated areas are underserved and we want to change that. We want to strengthen the partnership between the NAMB and state conventions and find better ways to work together with greater focus.”
Planting churches in these cities will be a high priority. Fifty percent of the NAMB budget is appropriated for church plants. “Send St. Louis” will address the need for reaching the 18th largest metropolitan area in the United States. NAMB wants to find the most effective way of reaching the 2.7 million people living in the 60-mile radius from downtown St. Louis.
“We want to make disciples,” Davis said, “and not just converts. We want to connect them to a local church.”
According to Davis the other big emphasis is cooperation.
“We want to come alongside and offer assistance to local pastors,” he said. “Forming a structure of communication will have a strong impact on sharing the Gospel in St. Louis.”
The idea for the structure involves a local coalition for “Send St. Louis” to include, in addition to the state convention director or designee, local leadership.
“You live here,” Davis told the group. “You know the people and the culture.”
Jim Breeden, executive director of missions for the St. Louis Metro Baptist Association, also encouraged the local metro leadership.
“It will be exciting to see what God will do,” he said. “We can look at this as a fresh start or a way to enhance what we are doing.”
Seeking God’s plan is a major component of the “Send St. Louis” emphasis.
“Our prayer strategy must be for the leadership of the Holy Spirit to impact the landscape of St. Louis with the Gospel,” Davis said.
He challenged the group to pray for a vision for the area “beyond what we could do.”
“Everyone in this room is a servant,” Davis said. “Looking at Samuel in I Samuel 3 is our encouragement. In verse 7, Samuel didn’t know what he was to do because the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. But, in verse 19, the
Lord was with Samuel and he let none of His words fall to the ground.
“Pray God will give His Word in ‘Send St. Louis’ to impact the lost.”
VICKI STAMPS/contributing writer