NAMB planter orientation: Part of a bigger family 


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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 planter’s wife. 

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 planting.

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 planting.

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 phenomenal.”

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 for free resources and daily blogs on church planting and living a life on mission. View a highlight video from the orientation at

Sign up for the NAMB, Send Relief and Send Network newsletters at 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

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