PLANO, Texas – Missourians were among the record crowds at Prestonwood Baptist Church here, and they say the excitement and passion seen there is encouraging.
“It was extraordinary,” said Rick Hedger, Missions/Evangelism/Discipleship team leader for the Missouri Baptist Convention said. “I think the Send momentum is really buildilng.”
John Mark Clifton, lead pastor of Wornal Road Baptist Church in Kansas City, said the event was different from previous North American Mission Board gatherings.
“There’s no real comparison,” he said. “There was almost as many people here as there was in Houston at the SBC annual meeting.”
Hedger said it was significant to him that the focus was on planting churches, not high profile names or the corporate entity of NAMB.
“I want to applaud Kevin Ezell,” he said. “Even though he was there and I saw him, he was never on stage and allowed everyone to do their job.”
“It wasn’t NAMB selling their programs, it was NAMB creating opportunities for people to connect.”
Hedger sat in on a breakout session focusing on Kansas City, one of Missouri’s two Send Cities (along with St. Louis).
“There were 25-30 people looking into planting churches there. It might even grasp more momentum than St. Louis.”
Clifton led a breakout track on replanting legacy churches. Instead of starting a new work from scratch, the idea to breathe new life into an established church that is in serious decline and in danger of closing its doors for good. Wornall Road has used such a strategy to grow significantly in recent years.
Hedger noted a disctint respect for older, more experienced leaders from the up-and-coming church planters in attendence.
“What I saw was the young guys value greatly the imput of men who have been in the ministry who will pour into them. I believe the young church planters see us all as being on the same team and want to learn and cooperate. They’re hungry to learn from our mistakes and our successes if we will be that vulnerable and real.”