OMAHA – Rick Posey came away with an unintended consequence after he led mission teams from his Valley Springs, Ark. church to this thriving city along Interstate 29: he wanted to stay.
A Missouri native from Springfield, he spent the last 15 years pastoring in Arkansas and Missouri (including six years as associate pastor at Skyline Baptist Church in Branson). While there his church helped a few new church plants take root, and that’s when God began to impress upon him that he and his wife Angie were to move to Omaha to plant one themselves.
They took a vision tour through Omaha and Washington County to the north, a community of 20,000 people without a single Southern Baptist Church.
“It grabbed ahold of our hearts,” he said. “We got in touch in the North American Mission Board (NAMB), got approved and here we are. We were accepted on a Friday, I resigned my church on Sunday, put the house on the market on Monday and sold it on Tuesday.”
They began searching for a house, but were having trouble finding a place to live that suited them. They lived in a mission house for several months, but eventually stumbled across the north Omaha community of Lake Cunningham and found the right house. They also found the place to plant a church.
It is not uncommon for a new church plant to meet in a store front or strip mall, but Lake Cunningham Community Church meets in a retirement village.
“God opened up a huge door there,” Posey said. “That is not what we expected to do.”
Though the church plant may not look like what Posey had in mind when he moved north to Omaha, he still has the vision God gave him for the community.
”Our vision is a long-term vision,” he said. “We want to start multiple churches, not just one. There are four pretty good sized towns in Washington County, and from here we want to start a Southern Baptist church in each of those towns. I won’t be the pastor of all four, obviously, but I want help disciple men and watch God raise them up to be pastor of those churches.”
Omaha – and Council Bluffs, Iowa, just across Intestate 29 – is a thriving area of the country. The metro area has a population of 865,000, but only 12 percent are evangelical, and only 1.4 percent are Southern Baptist. According to NAMB, more than half claim no religious affiliation. In Nebraska, 95 percent of the state is unchurched.
“There’s a very strong Catholic and Lutheran influence,” Posey said, “but the majority are just unengaged without a relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Posey said that when the recession hit the rest of the country, it skipped over industry in Omaha/Council Bluffs. The economy is booming and unemployment is very low. The downside is that people are satisfied with what the world has given them, and sometimes do not see the need for the gospel.
“What we find is that they have a nice home, good jobs, cars in the driveway and plenty of money, so there is little spiritual hunger. That can make engaging them with the gospel difficult.”
Posey recently met with members of the Missouri Baptist Biker Fellowship when they stopped in Council Bluffs on their ride up Interstate 29. He said Missouri churches can help him and Lake Community Church engage the lostness. One of the ways to do that is adopting a church plant, just like Posey’s church did when he was in Arkansas.
“You’ve got to listen and do what the church planter needs, whether that’s prayer walking, sharing the gospel, or whatever. We want to do things right and not burn any bridges.”
Posey also asked that Missouri Baptists pray for five men that Posey can disciple and train to be disciple-makers themselves and plant churches in the Omaha area.
“Pray that God will open up doors and that the Holy Spirit will begin to melt the hearts of people up here so they can see their need for Christ.”