In March and April 2017, we interviewed three pastors serving in Sending Churches. These are their stories.
Are you serious about My kingdom and glory or your own? This was the question that Brian Bloye, senior pastor at West Ridge Church, Dallas, Georgia, faced as he considered stepping away from the heart of his ministry efforts for many years: LAUNCH. The LAUNCH Network of Sending Churches, started in 2005 as the West Ridge School of Church Planting, had gone from a simple training school for church planters to a major, successful network of church planters with a nationwide reach.
Back in 2002, Brian was listening to Max Lucado speak at a conference at Saddleback Church when he remembers being challenged by Lucado’s words: “God does not exist to make much of us; we exist to make much of Him.” Brian began to rewrite the mission statements of his life. As he did this, he began to see that a being part of a Sending Church is not just about sending money to support missionaries (which is very important), but actually sending people out to plant churches themselves. A Sending Church is a multiplying church, creating the next generation of disciples and supporting and sending the next generation of planters.
Brian originally started the West Ridge School of Church Planting in 2006 to train people to become church planters locally and nationally. Inspired in large part by the mentorship and training of Bob Roberts—pastor of Northwood Church in Keller, Texas and author of The Multiplying Church: The New Math for Starting New Churches—Brian realized that church planting needed to be refocused on healthiness, on fundamental leadership principles and multiplying churches (instead of sending networks). “We need reproducing churches,” he urged. In 2010, after looking over the landscape of church planting and seeing a need for better assessments, training, and coaching, Brian hired Mac Lake to help design these systems and start a church planting network—LAUNCH. Through LAUNCH, the assessment, training, and coaching processes were overhauled and improved and they established a board of experienced church planters—they ultimately set the goal of planting 1000 reproducing churches. They began to set up “city hubs” (similar to the Send City model by NAMB), and supporting over 20 other networks and denominations with their primary focus on sending and multiplying churches.
Many of the church planters were Southern Baptist as well—and the North American Mission Board (NAMB) took notice. By December 2014, an official partnership had begun between NAMB and LAUNCH. For Brian, letting go of the network was a kingdom “gut-check.” Through a process of deep prayer and consideration, that’s exactly what he did, and LAUNCH became NAMB Multiply in March 2015. LAUNCH was over, but its impact continues to this day. And West Ridge Church’s responsibilities as a multiplying church never diminished—far from it. From 1997-2010, West Ridge was responsible for planting 88 churches in North America and 60 churches internationally. During the LAUNCH years (2010-2014) more than 160 churches were planted by churches that were part of the LAUNCH network. They have deployed close to 1000 people to work in mission and church planting endeavors, and four staff members from the church have gone out to plant sending churches of their own. And Brian has continued his leadership in the church planting movement by helping to support and nurture the church planters already sent out by bring them back for opportunities in leadership training, physical/spiritual/emotional healthiness and fellowship. When considering what role he sees for West Ridge Church into the future, Brian recalled the words of Jeff Christopherson: “we don’t want to be a megachurch—we want to be a mother church.”
Brian Bloye ([email protected]) is Senior Pastor at West Ridge Church of Dallas, Georgia. West Ridge Church serves as NAMB’s Lead Sending Church for Boston church planting and the Church Planters Assessment Center for NAMB for Send City Atlanta.
For more information about West Ridge Church, visit https://www.westridge.com/.
Published October 9, 2017