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Church envisions 50 new church plants

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
SPRINGDALE, Ark. (BP)--Ronnie Floyd, senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, has a three-year vision for "Greater Things," an ambitious church planting and missions mobilization campaign now underway.

Initially, Floyd challenged the people in Cross Church's three campuses to plant 50 new churches over three years and, in 2012 alone, to mobilize at least 1,000 church members to experience a cross-cultural missions experience outside northwest Arkansas.

"To God's glory, 2,000 members of Cross Church have committed to undertake a cross-cultural missions experience ... somewhere in North America or the world. The ultimate goal is to reach 10,000 people in the world for Jesus Christ in 2012," Floyd said.

Floyd first shared his God-sized Greater Things vision last November -- challenging Cross Church to raise $20 million over the next three years to turn the vision into reality.

Despite today's weak economy, Cross Church is well on its way, with members already having committed $16 million -- over and above the church's annual ministry budget. In addition, the church received a property gift that appraised for $2 million.

Floyd, in leading the charge for Southern Baptist mega-churches like Cross Church to plant new churches in unreached areas of North America, is carrying forth from his work as chairman of the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) Task Force in 2009-10.

"We prayed that God would give us a resurgence of the Great Commission, and we are now seeing an awakening to Jesus' command," Floyd said.

Cross Church -- in addition to the main Springdale campus -- has campuses in nearby Pinnacle Hills and Fayetteville, the home of the University of Arkansas and its 21,500 students.


Last January, Cross Church enlisted 350 members of its Springdale congregation to launch the Fayetteville campus, located about nine miles south. In only three months in one of the region's most unreached cities, the Fayetteville site -- led by campus pastor Nick Floyd, Ronnie's son -- is averaging more than 1,400 in weekly attendance and has baptized 126 people.

Though it is in close proximity to the university, the young church has drawn people of all ages and has expanded to a third service on Sundays.

"Locally, we want to ensure that a Gospel witness occurs in some way to every home in northwest Arkansas by the end of the three-year vision," Floyd said.

Additionally, Cross Church hopes to plant at least 50 churches around the world as part of the Greater Things initiative. In the U.S., these include churches in Florida, Indianapolis, Denver, San Francisco, Montana and three in New York City. Internationally, Cross Church is planning new church plants and missions trips for Brazil, China, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Budapest, Hungary, Malawi and other regions. The church already has signed agreements with 16 of the 50 new churches.

Among Cross Church's members is Bob McCaslin, mayor of Bentonville. If Bentonville sounds familiar, it's the home of Walmart, the world's biggest retailer. Northwest Arkansas also is the corporate home for other large companies like Tyson Foods and J.B. Hunt Transport Services.

"God has provided Cross Church with a great opportunity -- perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity -- located where the world comes to do business," McCaslin said. "We have unsurpassed talent and resources -- resources that God can use in mighty ways if the people will allow.


"Pastor Floyd has communicated the blessings God has in store for those who are obedient. This campaign is the Great Commission at work and emphasizes our personal responsibility to share the Gospel to a lost world," the mayor said. "God wants to do greater things through each of us."

Donnie Smith, CEO and president of Tyson Foods, is another Cross Church member committed to Greater Things.

"I've been a member of Cross Church for 23 years, and I can tell you I've never felt more closely aligned to our church's strategic direction," Smith said.

"We have to take the Gospel to the entire world, and I'm excited that my entire family will join over 2,000 others on a mission trip to make an impact for Jesus beyond our borders," said Smith, who will be venturing to Malawi in southeast Africa with his family.

Neither Smith nor McCaslin foresees a problem with their pastor's bold $20 million goal.

"Times are tough, but God is a big God and He doesn't have a cash-flow problem," Tyson's CEO said. "I'm not at all concerned with God's ability to supply the resources to get the work done He wants done. All we need to do is hear from Him what He wants us to do and then get after it!"

McCaslin said Floyd challenged Cross Church members to review their priorities so that more resources can be leveraged for ministry.

"The vision Dr. Floyd has cast with our members is motivational. We can see the greater things God will do with the increased resources from His people," the mayor said. "Our church is blessed to have a diverse congregation, and we will likely see God's people commit more than the $20 million goal over the next three years."


McCaslin added, "The way God has moved is remarkable. People have listened and have answered the call. I truly believe this is the beginning of a revival that will reach northwest Arkansas, America and the world for Christ."

Ask Smith why Greater Things is important and he has a ready reply: "Jesus clearly tells us to impact the world. Now maybe our church should first reach northwest Arkansas, but we cannot avoid the call to impact the rest of the world. I think when folks reach out to the world, they naturally become more cognizant of the needs at home and become more mission-minded in their daily lives."

Mickey Noah writes for the North American Mission Board.

Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press

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