Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared here in The Pathway, a publication of the Missouri Baptist Convention.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – MBC Executive Director John Yeats signed an agreement with the North American Mission Board (NAMB), May 21, that clarifies church-planting lanes of responsibility for both organizations – and, in effect, makes Missouri what NAMB describes as a Send Network state (SN Missouri).
Send Network Missouri is a strategy where NAMB deploys church planters. NAMB also provides assessment, training, and funding to plant new churches across the state.
This enables NAMB to do what it does best, according to Rick Hedger, director of Multiplying Churches for the MBC. “The church-planting strategy NAMB employs is very effective,” he says. “Their assessment is one of the best for church planters. Their training is outstanding. And their funding, along with caring for the church planter, is well developed.”
So, what becomes of the MBC’s church-planting strategists? “With NAMB as our partner, we are freed to discover, develop, and deploy multi-ethnic and underserved demographic congregations,” says Hedger.
“Our goal is to develop a pipeline of pastors and churches that reach the unreached who have come into Missouri from all over the world, and the underserved people groups who live in our state and counties. The mission field is coming to us, and our partnership with NAMB enables us to work together to accomplish more in transforming lives and communities with the gospel.”
Months ago, Yeats challenged Hedger with a “what if” question: What if the MBC were to turn over all planter-based church planting to NAMB so we could release our own strategists to find and serve pockets of people who have limited access to Bible studies and evangelical churches?
The challenge came on the heels of a meeting with other state convention executive directors and Kevin Ezell, president of NAMB. During the meeting, Yeats and Ezell talked about ways to make this new strategy an opportunity in Missouri.
“As a part of NAMB’s commitment to working with the MBC, NAMB continues its annual funding grant to the MBC, but the shared focus of those funds is on youth evangelism/discipleship, with another portion earmarked for church-planting efforts,” says Yeats. “Our missionaries will use these funds with local churches and associations to develop a robust ‘churches-starting-churches’ strategy.”
After much prayer and many meetings, phone calls, and emails, NAMB and the MBC reached a “Strategic Agreement.” Yeats describes the joint strategy as NAMB and the MBC running the same race in parallel lanes, with each organization running on its unique strengths.
NAMB runs the race of planting churches in Missouri through its Send Network Church-Planter lane. The MBC runs its race in an Organic Disciple-Making Church-Planting lane.
MBC state missionaries who serve in the Multiplying Churches Group plan to focus on discovering diverse international people groups represented across Missouri. They live not only in Missouri’s metro areas but also in many rural counties. The missionary goal is to network with willing churches and associations to understand the worldviews of these people groups, and then to engage them with the gospel in evangelism, discipleship, leadership development, and, eventually, the birth of new churches.
“The dream is that Missouri will see many churches started through Send Network Missouri, with NAMB and the MBC running side-by-side to transform lives and communities with the gospel,” says Hedger. “May we all cross the finish line and hear the Lord say, ‘Well done!’”
Published June 8, 2021