Last week I was in Dallas at the Baptist Building for a couple meetings. During my visit I had the opportunity to visit with Randel Everett. Our conversation went in a number of directions. We discussed the state of our convention and the financial challenges we continue to face. In the course of the meeting, Randel shared with me that last year we as Texas Baptists started 262 new churches.
In the surge of disappointing news, I wanted to celebrate success. One new church is a milestone, but 262 is an achievement to celebrate. Paul Adkinson and his team have done a remarkable job of making the BGCT church starting division one of the finest such enterprises in our nation. Adkinson has led our convention to create a strong partnership between the local church, the local association and the state convention. “Ownership” by the local church has been a key to their success. Conventions encourage and support the start of new churches, but “churches start churches.”
One of the keys to the success of this movement has been the focus on connecting healthy gifted church planters with enthusiastic sponsor churches who are in it for the long haul. I was a church planter back in the late 1980’s. We learn many hard lessons during those days. The mortality rate of our church plants was sickening, as we sent wave after wave of young church planters out to start new works without the strong support network needed for success.
I have been the pastor of churches of all kinds of sizes and locales, but I can say without doubt that being a church planter is by far the most difficult task in the kingdom. The church planters moves and acts on faith, lives on a shoestring budgets, and offers a dream to those willing to listen.
As Texas Baptists we should celebrate 262 new churches that have taken their place in our ranks. The Kingdom is moving forward. Praise the Lord of the harvest that He keeps sending His finest to the front lines.