ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) – For the first time in more than two years, newly minted church planters gathered in person Nov. 8-11 for a Send Network orientation, creating a buzz of activity in the North American Mission Board (NAMB) auditorium.
All 139 men – church planters from across North America – were recently endorsed by Send Network and are preparing to plant or are currently planting new churches.
“We want to begin this event by reminding you of two truths,” said Noah Oldham, Send Network’s senior director of deploy. “First, your church is actually God’s church. He cares about it more than you do. It’s in good hands. And second, He cares about you – not just what you do for Him.”
Send Network’s Orientation welcomes new church planters to the Send Network family and further equips them to fulfill their calling of church planting. Planters learn more about Send Network’s values – Family, Multiplication and Restoration.
As NAMB recently celebrated a record Annie Armstrong Easter Offering of $66.5 million, these planters were walking reminders of where the generous donations of thousands of Southern Baptists are going – to start new churches and introduce men and women throughout North America to the good and beautiful God who created them.
“There are 47,000 Southern Baptist Churches that give in an incredible way,” NAMB President Kevin Ezell told the men. “That allows us to do what we do at Send Network, planting churches everywhere for everyone.”
As planters begin their journeys of planting across North America, they enjoyed a special and formative time to connect with one another.
“There have been so many conversations with planters from around the country – people from all different backgrounds – and seeing the brotherhood of believers with such a similar passion has been great,” said Blake Burget, who is planting Calvary West Littleton in Denver. “We’ve gotten to speak words of encouragement to one another, and it has been really powerful.”
Lead pastor and planter of Vintage Church in Pittsburgh, Rob Wilton, led a multiplication breakout session, where he began by having planters write down the names of people in their communities they are praying for. As planters pondered who God was placing on their hearts, Wilton wrote several names on the whiteboard, each representing a story and lineage in Vintage Church’s multiplication journey.
He told a story about a woman who was led to faith over multiple dinner conversations with him and his wife.
“This multiplication thing is what it’s all about,” he said. “When I think about my true calling, this is it.”
For three days, the halls of the NAMB offices rang with the sounds of murmured prayers, vulnerable conversations and the hope of what the Lord has in store for each of the church planters and the teams and cities they represent.
As Send Network prepares to launch these men and their teams throughout North America, the journey ahead will undoubtedly be long. But they go with a sense of togetherness, eager to walk in the good works God has for them.
Max Maceno, a planter from Minneapolis, was reminded that, “We’re not planting our churches alone. This is a marathon, and it’s not a marathon you’re going to run by yourself. It’s a marathon you’re going to run with a group of churches and with your church. It’s a marathon Jesus is calling us to be part of.”