Fla. Baptists, NAMB expand church planting strategy

By Keila Diaz

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BP) — The Florida Baptist State Board of Missions announced and voted March 28 to expand the partnership between the Florida Baptist Convention and the North American Mission Board through a new SEND Network – Florida, effectively expanding the SEND South Florida emphasis across the entire state.

“This is a game-changer for church planting in all of Florida,” said Tommy Green, the Florida convention’s executive director-treasurer, of the distinctive partnership with NAMB among Baptist state conventions in the South.

Tommy Green of the Florida Baptist Convention and, via video conferencing, Kevin Ezell of the North American Mission Board announce an expanded church planting partnership — SEND Network – Florida — March 28. Florida Baptist Convention photo

“NAMB is about planting churches everywhere for everyone,” said Kevin Ezell, the mission board’s president, speaking with the mission board via video conferencing. “I am grateful for the strategic partnership we have with Tommy Green and Florida Baptists. We share the same objective of developing strong church planters and churches that will have an evangelistic presence in their communities.

“Our partnership in church planting through Send Network maximizes efficiency and removes unneeded overlap,” Ezell said. “We can now work seamlessly together toward the same goal.”

Through the partnership, every endorsed church planter will go through Send Network assessment, orientation and training. Funding will be based on a funding grid developed by the Florida convention.

The State Board of Missions’ Administrative Committee noted in a statement, “Through this new and expanded system of supporting church planting, the resources of the North American Mission Board will be available to Florida Baptist churches as they seek to plant new churches anywhere in the state of Florida.” Resources include NAMB’s assessment process, coaching, planter care and financial resources.

“The Florida Baptist Convention through its church planting allocation in our Cooperative Program budget and resources in the Maguire State Mission Offering will come together with the resources of the North American Mission Board to support church planting in this unprecedented way,” the statement continued.

This new expanded partnership will constitute a 50/50 split between NAMB and the Florida convention for planter support for any sending church in the state. This allows expanded systems of support for the endorsed church planter through their sending churches.

SEND Network – Florida will commit to provide planter support for four years through the sending church and it addresses varying levels of support required for bivocational, co-vocational and full-time planters. Information for Sending Churches interested in entering into this process can be found at www.namb.net/church-planting.

Church planting funds from the Florida convention’s Cooperative Program budget as well as 100 percent of the Maguire State Mission Offering will be directed through the new SEND Network – Florida.
Keila Diaz is the Florida Baptist Convention’s digital communication assistant.
MASHALLTOWN, Iowa (BP) — Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams have begun cleanup work in Marshalltown, Iowa, following a devastating tornado July 19.

A Missouri Baptist Disaster Relief team arrived Tuesday to set up incident command at Iglesia Karios in Marshalltown. Chainsaw teams from Iowa have dispersed throughout the city to clear debris. An SBDR feeding team has prepared meals for recovery workers in the area.

Additional SBDR volunteers from Kansas-Nebraska and Florida already are on the ground in Marshalltown. Carlson, co-director of Iowa Baptist Disaster Relief, expects volunteers from other nearby states to arrive later this week and early next week. Teams from other states interested in providing assistance should contact their state disaster relief director.

“It looks like a war zone to tell you the truth,” Carlson said. “When you go downtown, you’ll see a lot of glass and brick everywhere.

“On the east part of town, there are about 10 blocks that are very heavily hit. There’s really not many trees standing. A lot of those homes aren’t livable,” Carlson said.

The EF-3 tornado injured at least 235 people in the town of 27,000 located 50 miles northeast of Des Moines. Carlson estimates that at least 100 homes were destroyed. Many more homes will take substantial work before people can return to live in them. Carlson believes it will take months, if not years, for Marshalltown to rebuild.

Some of the worst damage in Marshalltown came to the town’s courthouse and the brick buildings in the town square. In recent years officials and property owners had slowly worked to revamp the buildings, many of which are now destroyed. Jenny Etter, executive director of the Marshalltown Central Business District, estimates that the city had spent $50 million in building renovations since 2002.

A dozen or more tornadoes hit central Iowa last Thursday, according to the National Weather Service. The two biggest tornadoes, both rated EF-3, hit Marshalltown and Pella, with peak winds of 144 mph.

SBDR chaplains are also in Marshalltown to provide support and counsel to residents impacted by the tornado. Sam Porter, the North American Mission Board’s executive director of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, prays the SBDR response will provide volunteers opportunities to share the Gospel.

“[The] number one goal with disaster relief is to earn the right to share the Gospel,” Porter said. “We work with those impacted. We treat them with respect. We pray with them. When they ask the question, ‘What makes you do this for no charge?’ that’s when you’ve earned the right to share the Gospel.”

The Marshalltown tornado comes on the heels of the SBDR response to flooding in Des Moines, Iowa, where teams wrapped up work last week. Eight people came to faith last week during SBDR efforts in the capital city, Carlson said.

Porter and Carlson urge Southern Baptists to pray for Marshalltown and the rest of Central Iowa.

“Pray for all the people who live here,” Carlson said. “A lot of them lost their homes. They lost their cars. They lost their job. There is a lot of a need here.”

Tobin Perry is a writer for the North American Mission Board.,

Published April 3, 2019