By Tobin Perry
FLORENCE, Ky. – The first year of a new pastorate can be full of challenges, as the new pastor finds his way around a community, builds new relationships and casts his vision to the church.
For one new Kentucky Baptist pastor, a vision to penetrate lostness in North America and around the world through evangelistic church planting has made the job much easier.
“When you rally your people around a God-sized vision, they’ll work with you to accomplish it,” said Corey Abney (@coreyabney), who accepted the pastorate at Florence Baptist Church at Mount Zion in Florence, Ky., just over a year ago. “Our vision is to fulfill the Great Commission by making disciples in the context of the local church. Given the fact that a majority of North Americans live in or around major cities, we need more churches to reach the growing urban population.”
In the past year Abney has led Mount Zion to significantly increase the church’s role in church planting. Abney will be leading a workshop at the Send North America Conference at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, on July 29-30. The workshop will center on some of what he has learned in the past year.
The church’s increased involvement is more than just a matter of finances. Abney has taken steps toward a five-part church planting vision for Florence Baptist Church (@FBMZorg).
First, the church increased its church planting budget, on top of its giving to the Cooperative Program. The church, which averages about 1,400 in attendance most weeks, now financially supports two Send North America: Cincinnati church plants.
Second, the church will be providing people to help church planters through short-term mission teams. They have plans to send a team to Philadelphia this summer to help a church plant with Vacation Bible School. In the future they plan to send small teams—maybe a couple or two at a time—to visit church planters on the field and provide childcare and relational support for isolated planters.
They also are making plans to send teams regularly into nearby Cincinnati to support church planting efforts through Send North America: Cincinnati. Just 50 minutes away, Cincinnati will be a special emphasis for the church. The Cincinnati metro area has only one Southern Baptist church for every 10,861 people. Within the city limits, that figure jumps to one SBC church for every 59,245 people.
“We have an opportunity to connect with a ‘Send’ city where 2.3 million people live, most of whom are without a personal relationship with Jesus,” Abney said. “So I wanted to start our church planting strategy with a local emphasis on Greater Cincinnati.”
Third, the church is in the process of sending out its own members to plant churches throughout North America. Abney says he has two church members currently in the North American Mission Board process. Both hope to start planting churches in Cincinnati later this year.
Fourth, the church recruits other churches to get involved in Cincinnati and other Send North America cities. He points, as an example, to an opportunity he had last fall to preach at a small church in Kentucky. After Abney preached on what the Bible says about being a good neighbor, the church got involved in Send North America: Cincinnati and now partner with a church plant in the city.
Fifth, his church plans to be active in training future church planters and mission leaders. The church has several interns coming this summer who’ll learn about ministry in an urban context (nearby Cincinnati) as they prepare for potential future urban ministry involvement.
Abney believes Southern Baptists will make their biggest dent in North America’s lostness as they work together to plant churches.
“We’re in this together as Southern Baptists,” Abney said. “We take advantage of the power of multiplication when we partner together. One church cannot do everything, but every church can do something. This is one of my biggest takeaways from the past year. We can all do something. When you concentrate on doing your part to fulfill the Great Commission, you spend less time focusing on less important matters.”
For more information about how your church can get involved in Send North America, visit namb.net/mobilize-me. To find out more about this summer’s Send North America Conference and to register, visit sendconference.com.
Tobin Perry writes for the North American Mission Board.
Published April 12, 2013