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Jeremiah Brown, Generation Church@JeremiahJBrown
Charlie Fehrman, The Pointe Community Church@CharlieFehrman
Tony Manning, Hamilton Village@tonymanning
By Mike Ebert
INDIANAPOLIS — Kevin Ezell told
trustees of the North American Mission Board that he is determined to help
pastors and laypeople redefine what success looks like for their churches.
“Success cannot be defined based on
how many people a church keeps,” Ezell told trustees gathered for their Feb. 5
meeting. “We must help them redefine success based on how many a church sends.
Churches are designed to be sending agencies.”
As Ezell addressed the entity’s
leaders, winds blew 7 inches of newly-fallen snow through the streets of
Indianapolis, as if to vividly illustrate that the city differs greatly from
the South where Southern Baptists are so strong. Since becoming NAMB’s
president in September of 2010, Ezell has repeatedly challenged South-based
churches and leaders to put more money and focus on the hard to reach,
under-served areas of North America.
Indianapolis, which is the fastest
growing city North of the Mason-Dixon line, has only one Southern Baptist
church in its entire downtown area. Ezell said it will take new thinking and a
new scorecard for churches to turn that around.
“I want to encourage churches to begin
to tally as they plant churches, what those churches actually run on a Sunday,”
said Ezell. He said Atlanta pastor Bryant Wright recently told him attendance
at his Johnson Ferry Baptist Church was flat in 2013, “But when they calculated
the number of people they had sent out to other states and other countries and
the attendance that was happening at those churches, it was incredible what
their attendance was compared to 10 years ago.
“When you invest to that degree, it
hurts. When you send out your best it takes months and sometimes years to
recover,” Ezell said.
In other trustee business:
Ezell told trustees in the fall NAMB
will release a new resource tentatively titled Life On Mission. The book will help churches become more
missionally focused and help individuals discover how their lives can be on
mission. The book will include an evangelist tract and mobile app component
that will help churches train members to share the Gospel.
Ezell said NAMB’s next Send North
America Conference, which takes place Aug. 3-4, 2015, in Nashville, will be
designed to include laypeople who want to learn new ways to make their lives
In addition, NAMB is expanding its
ethnic church planting focus. Korean, Chinese, Hispanic and Native American
groups each have NAMB-funded National Church Planting Catalysts (CPC) focused
on starting churches for their groups. Additional CPCs will work to start
churches for the deaf and for members of the military. Another CPC has been
given the task of starting missional communities in each of NAMB’s 32 Send
North America cities. These communities will focus on evangelism and spiritual
development with the goal of someday becoming church plants.
Turning to the 1,000 SBC churches that
die or otherwise disappear from SBC roles each year, Ezell shared about NAMB’s
legacy church planting efforts.
“Literally millions upon millions of
dollars of buildings a year are being vacated,” he said. “It’s the
perfect opportunity to pass the baton of what once was to what can be. And we
must walk them there. It’s very difficult and it takes a good
bit of trust and time.”
Ezell highlighted recent reports that
after three years, SBC churches planted in 2010 have a 91 percent survival rate
and continue to gain in membership, attendance, baptism rates and missions
“We have to do everything possible to
come alongside these very courageous missionaries who are pushing back
darkness,” he said. “To do that we have to do everything possible to change the
conversation to help churches define success in not how many they keep, but how
many they send out. That’s why we did not chose the name ‘Keep North America,’
we chose the name ‘Send North America.’”
Mike Ebert is a writer for the North
American Mission Board.
Many families with four small children wouldn’t consider moving to the Mapleton-Fall Creek neighborhood of Indianapolis. Though undoubtedly on the rebound, the high crime rates, high poverty and crumbling homes, make it the kind of place you protect your children from—not move them into.
As the beginning flakes of more than 7 inches of snow landed on Indianapolis, North American Mission Board trustees boarded buses to get a firsthand look at how four church planters are pushing back lostness in the city. As they entered the buses, the hand of each trustee was stamped with a number—1943.
Nothing says "I love you" like a cookie. As they began the work of planting a church in Indianapolis, that's the lesson Barry Rager and his family have learned.
Date Created: 2/6/2014 4:20:56 PM
By Tobin Perry
families with four small children wouldn’t consider moving to the Mapleton-Fall Creek neighborhood
of Indianapolis. Though undoubtedly on the rebound, the high crime rates, high
poverty and crumbling homes, make it the kind of place you protect your
move them into.
But the Ragers—who moved to the neighborhood last
year to start a church—aren’t most families.
“It’s a neighborhood that needs Christ,” said
Barry Rager, a North American Mission Board church planter. “The State Convention of Baptists in
Indiana have projected that the neighborhood is 95 percent non-Christian. And
another draw to us being here. It’s not a place people really want to be. But if there’s a place where the population of the
area rivals the lostness in foreign countries, it’s right where we need to plant a church.”
North American Mission Board
trustees, meeting Feb. 3-5 in Indianapolis, connected with Rager and other
local church planters during a Catch the Vision tour of the city during their
gathering. The city is one of 32 Send North America cities where NAMB is
focusing the attention of Southern Baptists. Indianapolis has only one SBC
church for every 19,965 people.
God introduced Rager and wife, Amy,
to Indianapolis in 2008 when the young couple attended the Southern Baptist
Convention in the city. Barry, then a seminary students, had just taken a senior
pastor position at a Kentucky Baptist church and didn’t feel the time was right for a move.
But for the next couple of years the
couple prayed for the city and would often think about what ministry may look
like in Indianapolis. In 2009 Barry began to talk with a variety of churches
about the possibility of supporting their efforts to go to Indianapolis to
plant a church.
time we set one of those up, it never happened,” Barry said. “We just thought maybe it wasn’t going to happen for us. And so we
had prayed that our kids would be missionaries, that they would plant churches.
I just assumed I’d pastor established churches in Kentucky.”
But God had had an Indianapolis plan
for them after all. In the summer of 2012 Owensboro’s Pleasant Valley Community Church
pastor, Jamus Edwards, approached Barry with an idea. The church wanted to
start a new congregation in an urban environment—and they wanted Barry to be the planter.
When the Ragers moved to
Mapleton-Fall Creek neighborhood, they were told it would take months—and maybe years—to connect with their neighbors. In
the early days of the 20th century the young, growing—and affluent—neighborhood was the place to be in
the city. But then new communities began to emerge and become the city’s new magnets. Decades of decline followed.
In recent years there has been a strong effort to revitalize the neighborhood,
still a work in progress.
“It’s a broken place, but the people are
strong and resilient,” Amy said. “And they’re beautiful people, and we love
them. They just need Jesus. So we’re excited to be here. It is a flavorful neighborhood in
that we do hear gunshots. There is crime. But the people are open and receptive
to the gospel in a way that is beautiful.”
Knowing it would likely be tough to
get to know their neighbors, the Ragers relied upon a tried-and-true tool for
still had boxes around, and within the first week, I had made cookies for our
whole block,” Amy said. “We took cookies to every door. We tried to initiate
relationships with each individual.”
The cookies helped the Ragers to
build bridges with their neighbors. Over the past year they’ve met just about everyone on their
block. They also hold two discovery small groups in their home. To further
build relationships in the community, Barry began frequently working from a
nearby Starbucks. Because it was near a college campus, he has built
relationships with a variety of students.
The Ragers also have a monthly
worship service for 50 to 60 people as they prepare for the launch of their
church. Ethiopians, African-Americans, Asians and Caucasians all attend the services.
Though at times, Barry admits, life
on the mission field can be frustrating and discouraging, he says the support
of Southern Baptists has been critical. One pastor from Missouri regularly
calls and texts him with encouragement. He’s also appreciative of one SBC church in Mississippi that
prays for his family every Wednesday night.
believe God is worthy to be known,” Amy said. “We believe that He loves us, that
despite our brokenness He sent His
Son, Jesus, to die for us. And, we believe that not only is He the solution for
He's the solution to life now. And that these people, this city, desperately
need to know that Her is the only solution that will bring about peace and joy
Tobin Perry writes for the North
American Mission Board.
Click here to
watch a video about the Ragers and their work in Indianapolis. For more information
about how your church can be a part of Send North America: Indianapolis, visit http://www.namb.net/indianapolis.
Kevin Ezell told trustees of the North American Mission Board that he is determined to help pastors and laypeople redefine what success looks like for their churches.
Date Created: 2/6/2014 4:01:14 PM
As the beginning flakes of more than 7 inches of snow landed on Indianapolis,
North American Mission Board trustees boarded buses to get a firsthand look at
how four church planters are pushing back lostness in the city. As they entered
the buses, the hand of each trustee was stamped with a number—1943.
The trustees would soon discover that
1943 represented the number of years it would take, at the Church’s
present level of growth, to have enough churches of all denominations in
Indianapolis, according to a study by missiologist Jim Slack.
Indianapolis is one of 32 Send North
America cities where NAMB is focusing the attention of Southern Baptists upon
the need of evangelism and church planting. Metro Indianapolis has one Southern
Baptist church for every 19,965 people. Indianapolis Southern Baptists plan to
start 90 churches during the next 5 years.
“I want you guys to know that what you’re
doing is changing the culture of the church in Indianapolis,”
said church planter Chris Elliott, as he shared with
trustees in the outdoor park where he launched his church last year. “Whenever
I talk about your goal of planting 90 churches in the next 5 years, eyes get
about this big around and then they glaze over. Then the subject changes. That’s
because it’s unheard of. What you are doing is
sending shockwaves around the body of Christ. And 90 churches are going to be
planted. The gospel will be preached and a movement of Southern Baptists will
Trustees met Elliott and three other
planters on the trip. Each was focused on reaching a different geographic or
cultural segment of the city. Elliott, who grew up on the west side of
Indianapolis, started Oasis of Hope Southern Baptist Church in the park after
asking people nearby, “Who is Jesus?”
and “What did He do for you?”
and getting few responses that were near the gospel.
Barry Rager shared with trustees the
story of bringing his family of six from western Kentucky to the inner city of
Indianapolis last year. In the past year Rager and his family have started a
monthly worship service and several small groups. One of those groups includes
seven people who are not Christians but who are exploring the Bible together.
Curtis Cunningham, a layman from Send
North America: Indianapolis’ lead partner Second Baptist Church of
Springfield, Mo., also attended the vision tour. He is leading a team of young
families from his church to help Rager and his New Circle Church this summer.
“I was particularly excited about the
partnership with New Circle Church,”
Cunningham said. “It
was great to hear the evidences of what God is doing through them. When you
hear about some of the changes happening in their neighborhood, it doesn’t
make any sense outside of what God is doing.”
Church planter Kerry Jackson shared
with NAMB trustees about the church he is planting in Indianapolis’
arts district. He plans to launch Circle City Canvas Church
“I thought it was great to see our
church planters investing because it was investing that proved influential and
impactful,” said NAMB trustee Billy Van Camp, who
is the planting pastor of Heart Cry Church in Queen Creek, Ariz. “They
were blessing their community, inspiring their community and impacting their
community. I was very impressed.”
Trustees also met Indiana’s
first Ethiopian Southern Baptist church planter, Yoseph Desta. Desta’s
church reaches out to a growing population of Ethiopians and Eritreans in the
city. He told trustees that most Ethiopians come from an Ethiopian Orthodox
Church background, but only a small minority has a saving faith in Jesus
“The Cooperative Program has become
extremely encouraging for me,” Desta said. “Church
planting is not easy. When I graduated seminary, I thought church planting
would be easy. I’ve learned a lot since then. You have
become extremely important and encouraging to me.”
Trustees also drove by the city’s
historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway and were reminded that the area near the
speedway is in need of a new church plant.
Bobby Pell, the director of church planting at the State
Convention of Baptists in Indiana, ended the vision tour by reminding trustees
of the number that had been stamped on their hand at the beginning of the trip
and was now fading.
“My prayer is that because we saw what
we saw here in Indianapolis, we may have a greater heart for Indianapolis,”
Pell said. “Because we saw what we saw we might
be able to think about partnering or something for these [planters] and these
plants. My prayer is that this number 1943 would fade in a very real way—not
just on our hand.”
For more information about Send North America:
Indianapolis, visit http://www.namb.net/Indianapolis.
Tobin Perry writes for the North American Mission Board.
Date Created: 2/6/2014 3:41:27 PM
My name is Josh Hall. I have been happily married to my wife, Rachel, for 14 years, and we have four great kids: Hannah (10), Sophie (8), Levi (5) and Jackson (3). Rachel and I are natives of southwest Missouri. Prior to coming to Indy as a church planter, I was the senior pastor of Selmore Baptist Church in Ozark, MO for 10 years, and Rachel was a 5th grade teacher. I have a B.S. in History from Southwest Baptist University, and am currently working on a M.A degree in Theological Studies through Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. In my free time I enjoy fishing for smallmouth bass, and rooting for the St. Louis Cardinals. We are excited to live in Indianapolis and, by God’s grace, to plant a strong and vibrant New Testament church in this city.
A strong, dynamic, New Testament church with a hunger for truth, a desire for authentic biblical community, and a heart for the Great Commission.
Second Baptist Church of Spring Missouri3111 East BattlefieldSpringfield, Missouri 65804Pastor John Marshallwww.secondbaptist.org
For more information on Josh or how you can partner with Send Indianapolis you can reach us directly at 317.594.6964 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Date Created: 8/26/2013 2:54:51 PM
When I was fifteen years old an evangelist named Mike Landry visited Genoa Baptist Church to do a revival. I honestly cannot remember what he preached, but on the second night God made it clear to me that He was calling me to full time ministry. This was also re-affirmed through others before and after. Before that point I had planned on going to the military and becoming a police officer.
We, Living Faith Church, seek to reach the community of Danville with the Gospel of Jesus Christ through reaching families with the truth of God’s word. This will be done by creating community that is relevant to today’s culture and can only be accomplished through God’s church and His people. Finally we desire to be a church that reproduces itself through discipleship, church planting, and international missions.
Cedar Creek Baptist Church7709 Bardstown RoadLouisville, Kentucky 40291Pastor Chuck Hendersonwww.cedarcreekbaptist.com
For more information on Kevin or how you can partner with Send Indianapolis you can reach us directly at 317.594.6964 or at email@example.com
Date Created: 8/26/2013 1:22:53 PM
PAST MINISTRIESIn 1995, I returned home to St. Anne Woods , to start the ministry. God blessed me to start a Youth Farm, until 1998. From 1999 to 2003, God blessed me to Pastor, Back Street Mission of Kankakee! From 2003 to 2006, I served the Lord in the Chicago area as Co -Founder and Associate Pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church! CURRENT MINISTRIESSince 2006, God has called the mission to Indianapolis, Indiana! We are here to do our part to evangelize, to plant, to minister, to be an asset to this great city!
In 1994, God lead me to create a minister called, Back Street Missions to America. God first touched my heart about the youth of the world! Then God began to expand His vision to not only evangelizing the youth, but to evangelizing the whole family, the streets, and the neighborhoods! Back Street Missions to America’s objective is to help communities and build churches for the Kingdom of God!
Abundant Life Baptist Church822 U.S. Hwy 40Cloverdale, Indiana 46120765.653.8949
For more information on Anthony or how you can partner with Send Indianapolis you can reach us directly at 317.594.6964 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Date Created: 8/26/2013 12:14:43 PM
Senior Pastor, Max Anders, is a former college seminary professor, he has pastored for over twenty years. He is the author of over twenty books and was the creator and general editor of the 32 volume Holman Bible Commentary series. In addition to his Master of Theology degree from Dallas Seminary, he has an earned doctorate from Western Seminary. Max is married to his childhood sweetheart, Margie, and has two grown children, Tanya and Chris.
Family Life Church518 North Pendleton AvenuePendleton, Indiana 46064
For more information on Max or how you can partner with Send Indianapolis you can reach us directly at 317.594.6964 or at email@example.com
Date Created: 8/26/2013 11:04:01 AM
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