Yesterday morning I shared (somewhat) briefly about several aspects of a vision for church planting through UBC. I wanted to go over a few of those items now so that you would have specific prayer points as we seek the Spirit’s leading in establishing a church planting initiative (eventual movement) through the church. These items are in no particular order, except, perhaps close to sequence.
1) Vision trips to prospective cities. This is a very important aspect of planting. We are seeking, at this point, cities that are similar in profile to Fayetteville and the greater NWA region. Mainly, we are looking for college towns that are vibrant centers of influence, though the overall population may not be that large. We are doing this with the idea of discovering the need for a vibrant, healthy, local church witness. A lot of research is going into these cities before anyone gets on site, and at that point meetings with local pastors and SBC association / state leaders will be sought. Pray for these teams and for faith in the body to identify our first city.
2) Seminary Partnerships. This is just in the conversation / idea phase at this point, but the potential is great. We would seek out partnerships with The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (to start with) to establish a 6-month to 1-year internship for credit. The idea would be to keep some guys that are already with us upon graduation from the UofA for a year while they begin extension work either online or at the Southern extension campus at FBC Springdale. In those cases, we would then send them off to their campuses for a few years to then return for preparation to be sent out (6-12 months depending). Other scenarios would include men who are on these campuses, find out about our internship, apply, and then with seminary approval move to UBC for their last year of development.
Another aspect of these partnerships would be ongoing training and development with other like-minded churches networked through the Seminaries.
3) Laymen Training. This is one of the most exciting elements to me. I realize that this may take a bit of time, but this is why we pray. I hope to see an institute developed within our church that would be the umbrella for all of this, that would include a tract for laymen to be trained in discipleship and basic theology / ecclesiology with the hope of preparing them to move to our targeted cities / new church plants. Part of this training would be to aide in the physical transition (i.e. financial planning, home search, business relocation, new culture introduction…).
Another aspect, that will be further developed next, is to help laymen be trained in helping revitalize NWA regional churches in need.
4) Local Church Revitalization. Too often the local church witness is compromised for one reason or another. In many places a brand new local church is not the answer; revitalizing the present witness is. In these cases, you often find churches that do not have the people or financial resources to sustain their work. This is where UBC can partner with regional / local congregations to help bring new life to an older work. We would only identify works that are without a pastor or are in transition looking for one. In these occasions we would seek to place the pastor and key leadership with UBC folks (at the request and desire of the existing congregation). The same training models would be used, but the local partnerships and ongoing mission opportunities would be more personal for UBC through backyard Bible clubs, evangelistic outreach, ongoing resources to help the church get on its feet.
Again, these are just initial thoughts and dreams of mine and some others, but I believe they are Biblical thoughts. Church planting / revitalization is the greatest tool for fulfilling the Great Commission. We will not allow ourselves to plant more churches than we can plant in a healthy manner.
I hope to see us continue to parter with 9Marks ministries to help develop healthy elements in the lives of our planter / pastors and laymen. It would be false leading for us to think that saturation is key. That gets too close to being numbers driven, making us feel “good” about ourselves. The Biblical model is to set things in order with faithful preaching and polity and theology.
This will be an ongoing conversation and point of prayer. May God give us wisdom and understanding for His glory as we reach others that they may find lasting joy in Him.