NAMB hosts 139 church planters for Send Network orientation

By Shar Walker

ALPHARETTA, Ga. – For the first time in more than two years, newly-minted church planters gathered in-person from Nov. 8-11 for Send Network’s Orientation — creating a buzz of activity in the North American Mission Board (NAMB) auditorium.

All 139 men — church planters from across North America — were recently endorsed by Send Network and are preparing to plant or are currently planting new churches.

From Nov. 8-11, 139 new Send Network church planters met in person at the North American Mission Board in Alpharetta, Ga., for an orientation into the network. NAMB photo by Alexandra Toy

“We want to begin this event by reminding you of two truths: First, your church is actually God’s church. He cares about it more than you do. It’s in good hands,” said Noah Oldham, Send Network’s senior director of deploy. “And second, He cares about you — not just what you do for Him.”

Send Network’s Orientation welcomes new church planters to the Send Network family and further equips them to fulfill their calling of church planting. Planters learn more about Send Network’s values — Family, Multiplication and Restoration.

As NAMB recently celebrated a record Annie Armstrong Easter Offering of $66.5 million, these planters were walking reminders of where the generous donations of thousands of Southern Baptists are going — to start new churches and introduce men and women throughout North America to the good and beautiful God Who created them.

Send Network planters listening intently during a breakout session on one of Send Network’s values: restoration. NAMB photo by Alexandra Toy

“There are 47,000 Southern Baptist Churches that give in an incredible way. That allows us to do what we do at Send Network — planting churches everywhere for everyone,” said NAMB President Kevin Ezell from the stage.

As planters begin their journeys of planting across North America, they enjoy a special and formative time as they connect with one another at Orientation.

“There have been so many conversations with planters from around the country — people from all different backgrounds — and seeing the brotherhood of believers with such a similar passion has been great. We’ve gotten to speak words of encouragement to one another, and it has been really powerful,” said Blake Burget, who is planting Calvary West Littleton in Denver, Colorado.

As planters eagerly took their seats for the morning breakouts led by church planting practitioners, excitement loomed as tablets and notebooks began appearing on tables for notetaking.

North American Mission Board president, Kevin Ezell, encourages church planters during the Send Network Orientation. NAMB photo by Alexandra Toy

Lead pastor and planter of Vintage Church in Pittsburgh, Rob Wilton, led the multiplication breakout session, where he began their time by having planters write down the names of people in their communities they are praying for. As planters pondered who God was placing on their hearts, Wilton wrote several names on the whiteboard, each representing a story and lineage in Vintage Church’s multiplication journey.

Wilton shared a story about a woman who was led to faith over multiple dinner conversations with him and his wife.

“This multiplication thing is what it’s all about,” he said. “When I think about my true calling, this is it.”

For three days, the halls of the NAMB headquarters rang with the sounds of murmured prayers, vulnerable conversations and the hope of what the Lord has in store for each of the church planters and the teams and cities they represent.

Send Network planters share about their various church plants and they neighborhoods they are planting in. NAMB photo by Alexandra Toy

As Send Network prepares to launch these men and their teams throughout North America, the journey ahead will undoubtedly be long. But they go with a sense of togetherness, eager to walk in the good works God has for them.

Max Maceno, a planter from Minneapolis, was reminded that, “We’re not planting our churches alone. This is a marathon, and it’s not a marathon you’re going to run by yourself. It’s a marathon you’re going to run with a group of churches and with your church. It’s a marathon Jesus is calling us to be part of.”

Published November 16, 2021

Shar Walker

Shar Walker writes for the North American Mission Board.