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By Meredith Yackel
ALPHARETTA, Ga. – The North American Mission Board (NAMB)
hosted its first Send Network Orientation Jan. 25-27 in order to continue
building a national sense of brotherhood amongst Send Network church planters.,
The event, at NAMB’s headquarters in Alpharetta, Ga., included 120 church
planters from all 32 Send Cities gathered to be encouraged, loved and equipped
to plant effectively in their cities. An overwhelming theme of family resonated
throughout the entire conference, reassuring planters that they are not alone.
“I want you to leave here and feel like you are a part of a
family,” said Kevin Ezell, NAMB president, during a main session of the event.
“The beautiful thing about being a part of a family is that you are not alone.
Another beautiful thing about being a part of a family is that it doesn’t
matter how small or how large you are, you can still be a part of a whole that
is doing something much larger than yourself.”
Ezell emphasized the importance of identifying with the SBC
family and participating in the Cooperative Program, Lottie Moon Christmas
Offering® and Annie Armstrong Easter Offering®.
The three-day gathering offered a dynamic group of church
planting experts, sharing topics such as missional engagement, partnerships,
training and coaching. The packed itinerary also allowed fun opportunities for
the church planters to fellowship.
Van Pitman, a NAMB national mobilizer and pastor of Hope
Church in Las Vegas, Nev., started off the conference with a session on
identity and church planting.
“God’s call on my life is not simply to a particular church;
it’s to a city,” stated Pitman. “The end game is cities being penetrated,
lostness being taken away and darkness being removed. When you and I start
finding our identity in Christ, guess what? His heart becomes our heart, and
His heart bled for the cities.”
Tuesday morning’s session included a panel of church planter
wives. Kathy Litton, NAMB’s national consultant for ministry to pastor’s wives,
facilitated the panel consisting of Pam Wolfe, Angie Lewis, Gala Andrews and
Cindy Lake—all of whom shared on their experience in the role of church
Topics covered included the expectations placed on planter’s
wives, how to encourage and build-up your wife and practical ways to sustain a
healthy, Christ-centered marriage while church planting. Panel members took
turns providing insight on what has worked best in their relationships.
“Do not make assumptions about your wife—ask her,” stated
Litton. “Assumptions are dangerous. You need to say that to yourself about
marriage and ministry.”
Litton and the panel also emphasized the emotional and
physical well-being of church planter’s wives, but also the importance of
maintaining a healthy spiritual life within the chaos and stress of church
To further highlight the important role church planter wives
play, NAMB sent a special gift to every attendee’s wife which was scheduled to
arrive that same day. The gift was intended as a thank you for allowing their
husbands to participate in the event and for all the hard work they put into
Church planters coming from across North America, serving in
different contexts, with different church planting models and in different
stages of planting were united, refreshed and went home ready to continue to
work toward the mission God has placed on their lives.
“The love that was poured out on us was
unbelievable—probably just at the time when I needed it most,” said Eric
Clarkson, church planter of Church in the Village in Cincinnati, Ohio. “It
allowed me to feel like I was being filled-in on everything that was going
on—like I was a part of all the changes that have been made.”
“It was fantastic just to bring church planters together to
primarily build a brotherhood,” said Jamie Limato, pastor of Aletheia Church in
Norfolk, Va, and breakout session leader on coaching. “To create a place where
guys feel like they have a network within their denomination; I think that is
The conference ended with a time of dedicated prayer for the
church planters and their cities. The planters, Send City missionaries and NAMB
volunteers spent time with others in their regions to pray over each other as
well as pray for their cities.
“Jesus said it best, ‘seek first My kingdom’ and all the
other stuff that we worry about, He will take care of,”’ said Jeff
Christopherson, NAMB’s vice president for Send Network, during the closing
session. “What I hope that this is the beginning of, right here, right now, is
that if you came here concerned about your church plant and only your church
plant, you will go out of these doors concerned about your city, and the
planters beside you.
“God is moving. And if we as a denomination work together
and say, ‘We’re not about building a denomination; we are about advancing His
kingdom, then we put ourselves in the middle of something that God can truly
bless,“’ said Christopherson.
Visit the Send Network blog at http://sendnetwork.com for free resources and daily
blogs on church planting and living a life on mission. View a highlight video
from the orientation at http://sendnetwork.com/videos/sendnetworkrecap.
Sign up for the NAMB, Send Relief and Send Network
newsletters at http://www.namb.net/newsletters to stay connected and
learn about your next missional opportunity with NAMB.
Meredith Yackel writes
for NAMB and is a member of Redemption City Church in Cumming, Ga., a church
plant from First Baptist Church, Cumming.
Date Created: 2/10/2016 4:27:13 PM
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering®© Copyright 2016 North American Mission Board, SBC