NAMB, 9Marks to host church revitalization conference

By Joe Conway 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The North American Mission Board (NAMB) is partnering with the 9Marks collective, a network devoted to pastor support, church health and church planting, to host a church revitalization conference, Tues., Oct. 27 at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. 9Marks exists to equip church leaders with a biblical vision and practical resources for displaying God’s glory to the nations through healthy churches. 

The one-day event will feature 9 Marks president and Capitol Hill Baptist senior pastor Mark Dever. Also featured at the conference will be Mark Clifton, NAMB Church Replanting national strategist and Los Angeles church planter and urban strategist D. A. Horton, among others. Dever has written extensively on the subject of church health.

“You and I in this next generation have the opportunity to step in there and with the help of the Spirit of God to actually see churches turn around to see new life come into churches,” Dever said.

The four years since NAMB launched its Send North America strategy has brought renewed energy to Southern Baptist church planting and a focus on expanding the Gospel in some of the most influential population centers in the United States and Canada. The overall health of church plants, and planters, has improved with numerical evidence. Increased baptism rates, along with significant strides in church plant survival and missions giving, are hallmarks among the newest congregations.

Perhaps drawing less attention, but no less energy, is the issue of church health across the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). That is where the Send North America emphasis of partnership over process has ignited a movement of church revitalization. Church planting centers and individual churches continue to see church health as critical to church planting. Unhealthy churches, experts agree, should not plant churches.

Clifton, a church planter with experience in Canada and the U.S., most recently help revitalize a dying congregation in Kansas City. He has been leading church revitalization gatherings for NAMB with Woodstock Baptist Church senior pastor Johnny Hunt for the past year. 

“A church that does not produce fruit is dying; even if the bills are being paid and people continue to attend,” said Clifton. “Each year over 900 SBC churches close their doors. Each week we plant 20 SBC churches and we close 17.”

Clifton said some of the common symptoms of unhealthy churches include valuing the process of decision making over the outcome, valuing member preferences over the needs of the unreached, the inability to pass leadership to the next generation and eventual irrelevance within their community.

Churches which observe the warning signs should move toward more healthy practices in all these areas. Clifton recommends serious reflection and decisive action for planters hoping to help revitalize a congregation.

“They need to realize it is first and foremost it is spiritual warfare and prepare accordingly,” said Clifton. “Church planters need to love the remaining members and warm their hearts to the Gospel. They need to intentionally develop young men to build leadership.”

Clifton said simplification goes a long way to help churches turn back toward health. He encourages churches to re-engage their communities and serve them with radical generosity.

For more information about the 9Marks & NAMB Church Revitalization Conference, visit View a video invitation from Mark Dever at If you have a question about church revitalization, visit or email

Joe Conway writes for the North American Mission Board. 

Date Created: 9/4/2015 2:50:29 PM

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Georgia church embraces D.C.-area church planting

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By Sara Shelton 

By Sara Shelton 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With nearly 5.8 million people living in the Washington, D.C., area, Send North America: D.C. city coordinator Clint Clifton knows local church planters can’t do it alone.

“To make any significant progress in Washington, D.C., it’s going to take a major commitment from partners,” Clifton explains.

Clifton and his team of planters at Send North America: D.C. have found their partners in the leadership and congregation of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Ga. Under the leadership of James Merritt, Cross Pointe pastor and former Southern Baptist Convention president, the staff and congregation have quickly come behind the D.C. initiative to see more churches planted in the area this year.

“Planting healthy, self-sustaining churches in urban areas like our nations capital will take a coalition of committed and connected churches,” explains Mark Maynard, missions pastor at Cross Pointe. “Our goal is to provide a way for churches of all sizes to partner in church planting in Washington, D.C.”

In collaboration with Send North America: D.C., Cross Pointe hopes to act as a multiplying church center for the Washington, D.C., metro area. Their goal is to plant and multiply churches first in the District of Columbia and then across the entire metro area.

To kick-off their partnership in 2013 and begin to share their strategy for multiplying churches in the city, Cross Pointe hosted pastors from five different states to participate in a D.C. church planting strategy meeting.

“From that January meeting, all five churches joined our D.C. church planting collective,” said Maynard. “Our hope is to get five more partners at this weekend’s vision tour. One church plant, Pillar D.C., will launch this summer.”

Those in attendance heard from Merritt and Clifton as well as Send North America Northeast Regional Mobilizer Kevin Marsico. Together, the men cast the vision for a strategy to see churches planted and multiplied in D.C. over the next five years.

“We are so encouraged that there was a positive response from churches that our pastor invited,” says Larry Herndon, executive pastor at Cross Pointe Church. “It’s great to know that there are other churches interested in partnering together to plant churches according to God’s plan.”

Looking ahead, the team at Cross Pointe will launch specific churchwide campaigns as well as host additional strategy meetings to share the vision of multiplying churches and seek out additional partners for the planters working in Washington, D.C. For Clifton, the support of Cross Pointe has helped spur on the work of church planting and evangelism in the city of D.C.

“Like William Cary’s famous quote, ‘I will go down, if you will hold the rope,’ new churches simply will not be planted if existing churches aren’t willing to hold the rope,” Clifton says. “Dr. Merritt and the Cross Pointe team have not only agreed to ‘hold the rope,’ but they are passionately advocating that others join them in doing so.”

For more on Send North America: D.C., visit

Sara Shelton writes for the North American Mission Board. 

Date Created: 5/30/2014 11:46:05 AM

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'Ministry of the mundane' led D.C. church plant's vision

By Sara Shelton 

‘Ministry of the mundane’ led D.C. church plant’s visionWASHINGTON, D.C. – When Nathan Knight moved his family to the northwest area of Washington, D.C. in May 2009, he did so with the intention of planting Restoration Church with friend and ministry partner Joey Craft. Both recent graduates of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, the two desired to plant a church in an urban area, a place where the nations were represented and the potential for influence was abundant, but, most importantly, where the need for a strong, gospel-centered church was evident.

“We weren’t from D.C. and we didn’t know anybody when we arrived,” Knight recalls. “But it came down to the simple fact that there was a need in Washington D.C. and we were willing to fill it.”

However, the work of church planting is a sometimes slow and daunting process, leading Knight to take a more unique path to growing his congregation.

“Whatever we could do to get people in a conversation or into our homes for a meal to get to know them better… that was our ministry,” Knight says. “We were just trying to be intentional on the streets and in our daily lives to build relationships and a presence in the community.”

For Knight, that included taking a job at the local Starbucks, coaching a little league team, playing in a tennis league and joining a community softball league.

“We call it the ‘ministry of the mundane,’ simply seizing the more mundane, everyday moments and opportunities we all live in to draw people into conversation and relationship and, eventually, to Christ.”

It was in one of these moments that Knight met Tyrone and Edna, a homeless couple who regularly sold newspapers outside of Starbucks. Knight spoke with them regularly, eventually inviting them into his home to participate in a Bible study. The couple came to the first meeting and rarely missed another one after that.

Eventually, with commitment and friendship from Knight and the team at the fledgling Restoration Church, both Tyrone and Edna surrendered their lives to Christ and became dedicated members to the ministry of the church.

“I had no idea that when we were praying for persons of peace to help us connect in the community that those prayers would be answered with two homeless people who sat out in front of one of the most highly trafficked areas in the city,” Knight says. “Everyone knew Tyrone in particular, and he would always tell people how much he loved Jesus and Restoration Church. Because of him, I was able to share the gospel with scores of people.”

When the Restoration Church officially covenanted in March 2010, Tyrone and Edna were considered a part of the congregation. And when Tyrone died last November after a heart attack, it was the congregation of Restoration Church that surrounded and supported Edna.

“Our church has really come around Edna. It’s been a joy to see her served and built up through Christ in this time.”

Knight preached the sermon at Tyrone’s memorial service, held just up the street from the spot where he met the couple years ago.

“At the service, I was able to preach the gospel to both the lawyers and the homeless, the black and white, saved and lost, all because of Tyrone and his life well lived.”

Now almost four years into ministry in the city, Knight and the team at Restoration Church are still seeking out these everyday moments to intersect the lives of D.C. residents like Tyrone and Edna with the gospel of Christ. Though outreach in such a liberal, well-educated area can be difficult, the church has been blessed with continued growth and inroads in ministry within the community.

“We always have a sense that what’s next on the horizon for our church is just the next appointment someone in our congregation might have to meet with someone over a meal or a coffee to share their lives. For us, the small things build into great things when lives begin to reflect Christ to the watching world.”

For more on Restoration Church, visit 

Date Created: 3/7/2013 9:36:31 AM

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D.C.-area church meeting on university campus

By Sara Shelton 

Ron Jones 
Ron Jones

FAIRFAX, Va. –  “Find out where God is at work and join Him there.” 

This thought from author Henry Blackaby was in Ron Jones’ mind as he set on the path to plant Capital City Fellowship near Washington, D.C. Having moved from the buckle of the Bible belt in Texas to pastor a large, established church in the area, Jones’ passion for planting spurred in his heart the desire to see a new work started in the city.

“Church planting is sort of in my DNA,” Jones explains. “I really think everybody in ministry ought to plant a church or be a part of planting a church. It’s a very powerful experience.”

While in New Orleans for the 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Jones attended a pastors’ lunch hosted by the North American Mission Board. There, he heard the vision cast for Send North America, NAMB’s strategy to help churches and individuals become active in all regions of North America to lead people to faith in Jesus Christ and start new churches.

“That is truly a God-sized vision,” Jones says of the strategy. “We were already thinking through and being encouraged in planting a church in D.C. but we really wanted to get in stride with what we felt God was going to do through Send North America: D.C.”

Jones officially partnered with Send North America: D.C. and set to work laying the foundation for Capital City Fellowship. With the support of NAMB and partner churches in Colorado, New Mexico and Virginia, Capital City Fellowship officially launched weekly services in January 2013.

The church is already running more than 100 regular attendees and growing. The congregation meets on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., a suburb just outside of D.C. Though a temporary location, meeting on the campus has opened the door for Jones and his team to minister to the Fairfax community as well as the students matriculating at George Mason.

“I love the proximity we have to the next generation by meeting on a university campus.”

Reaching those who influence both this generation and the next is at the heart of the vision behind Capital City Fellowship. Jones hopes to not only see his church grow, but to eventually plant other churches just like it throughout the D.C. area and even in other capital cities across North America.

“If we can plant Bible-believing, gospel-centered churches in and around the places where our nations’ leaders are, just merely by proximity we’ll have an opportunity to influence those who influence our nation,” Jones says. “We have a vision to plant a network of churches across the nation’s capital, but also in capital cities around the United States. That’s at least 50 churches working to see Christ glorified in our country.”

For now, the focus remains on building momentum at Capital City Fellowship to point the surrounding community back to Christ. Jones and his team believe that the work they are doing will succeed, not because of their efforts but because of the one who called them to it.

“Jesus said, ‘I will build my church and the gates of Hell will not overcome it.’ If Jesus builds it, the people will come. I’m just along for the ride.”

For more on Capital City Fellowship, visit  

Date Created: 3/4/2013 2:45:41 PM

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