By Tobin Perry
HOUSTON – Southern Baptist church planter Carlos Pulgarin isn’t accustomed to worship services without responsibilities. At Zona Cera, his Spanish-language church plant in Vancouver, B.C., Pulgarin has to set up everything—such as the sound system, chairs and children’s ministry—before each of the church’s twice-weekly worship services.
But on Sunday Pulgarin and 51 other Southern Baptist church planters joined together for a rare treat—a North American Mission Board-sponsored worship service where other believers served and fed them spiritually instead of the other way around.
“This was a very good time for me to listen to others,” Pulgarin said. “I know that other people have been preparing to share spiritual food with me. God is so good.”
The church planters came from all the geographic regions of North America and from a variety of church planting contexts—including rural, urban and suburban. Many were participating in their first Southern Baptist Convention. Afterwards, church planters were treated to a special lunch and were presented a gift bag from NAMB.
“It’s just a wonderful time to refresh ourselves, to center ourselves on the Word and to lift up Jesus,” said Brad O’Brien, a church planter in Baltimore who was attending his first SBC. “It was a reminder that it is really about what He has done for us and His call to the city of Baltimore, where we’re [committed] for the sake of the gospel. It was a great reminder of that today.”
NAMB president Kevin Ezell preached from 1 Corinthians 2:1-5. Throughout the message he encouraged church planters not to overestimate their own abilities and not underestimate what God can do through them.
“When you feel least effective, God is going to use you in the greatest way. Never, ever underestimate your potential effectiveness,” Ezell told the church planters. “But never ever overestimate your ability to just manipulate something and make it happen.”
The worship service kicked off a busy week for the church planters who will be helping Southern Baptists connect with the North American mission field as they also begin to immerse themselves in the SBC. One of the key reasons NAMB invited the planters to the convention is to further their involvement in convention life.
“Here’s the thing about the Southern Baptist family, because of who Christ is and what He has done, we can come together today—from different contexts, different cities and different states—we come together worshiping Jesus,” Micah Millican, NAMB’s director of church planter relations, told the planters at the worship service.
Since many of the planters present at the SBC serve in ministry contexts with few if any Southern Baptists nearby, many appreciated the opportunity to build relationships with other church planters and established church pastors during the convention. Many hope to find future partners for their church plants.
“I always see coming to the Southern Baptist Convention as a great opportunity to connect with people you may know from other areas,” said Patrick Thompson, a church planter in New York City. “That’s especially true for us now, planting a church in New York City. We look at this as a great opportunity to meet with people who may be interested in what we’re doing and may want to partner with us by providing mission teams and prayer. The SBC is great [for making] those connections.”
NAMB church planters will be at the entity’s exhibit to help answer questions about church planting and to connect Southern Baptists to Send North America. Send North America is NAMB’s strategy to help churches and individuals become active in all regions of North America to lead people to faith in Jesus Christ and start new churches.
For more information on how to get involved in Send North America, visit namb.net/mobilize-me.
Tobin Perry writes for the North American Mission Board.
Published June 12, 2013