For one new Kentucky Baptist pastor, a vision to penetrate lostness in North America and around the world through evangelistic church planting quickly has become a key facet of his ministry.
"When you rally your people around a God-sized vision, they'll work with you to accomplish it," said Corey Abney (@coreyabney), who accepted the pastorate at Florence Baptist Church at Mount Zion just over a year ago. "Our vision is to fulfill the Great Commission by making disciples in the context of the local church. Given the fact that a majority of North Americans live in or around major cities, we need more churches to reach the growing urban population."
In the past year Abney has led Florence Baptist Mount Zion to significantly increase the church's role in church planting. Abney will be leading a workshop conveying his experience at the Send North America Conference at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, on July 29-30.
The church's increased involvement is more than just a matter of finances. Abney has taken steps toward a five-part church planting vision for Florence Baptist Mount Zion (@FBMZorg).
First, Abney called for an increase in the church planting budget on top of giving to Southern Baptists' Cooperative Program missions and ministry channel. The church, which averages about 1,400 in attendance most weeks, now financially supports two Send North America: Cincinnati church plants as part of the North American Mission Board's initiative to plant churches among under-served U.S. populaces.
Second, Florence Baptist Mount Zion will be providing people to help church planters through short-term mission teams. A team will venture to Philadelphia this summer to help a church plant with Vacation Bible School. In the future they plan to send small teams -- maybe a few at a time -- to visit church planters on the field and provide childcare and relational support for isolated planters.
They also are making plans to send teams regularly into nearby Cincinnati to support church planting efforts through Send North America: Cincinnati. Just 50 minutes away, Cincinnati will be a special emphasis for Florence Baptist Mount Zion. The Cincinnati metro area has only one Southern Baptist church for every 10,861 people. Within the city limits, that figure jumps to one SBC church for every 59,245 people.
"We have an opportunity to connect with a 'Send' city where 2.3 million people live, most of whom are without a personal relationship with Jesus," Abney said. "So I wanted to start our church planting strategy with a local emphasis on greater Cincinnati."
Third, the church is in the process of sending out its own members to plant churches throughout North America. Abney said two church members currently are in the North American Mission Board process. Both hope to start planting churches in Cincinnati later this year.
Fourth, the church is recruiting other churches to get involved in Cincinnati and other Send North America cities. Abney points to an opportunity he had last fall, for example, to preach at a small church in Kentucky. After underscoring what the Bible says about being a good neighbor, that church got involved in Send North America: Cincinnati and now partners with a church plant in the city.
Fifth, Florence Baptist Church Zion plans to be active in training future church planters and mission leaders. Several interns will be working this summer to learn about ministry in an urban context (nearby Cincinnati) as they prepare for potential future urban ministry involvement.
Southern Baptists will make their biggest dent in North America's lostness as they work together to plant churches, Abney said.
"We're in this together as Southern Baptists," he said. "We take advantage of the power of multiplication when we partner together. One church cannot do everything, but every church can do something. This is one of my biggest takeaways from the past year. We can all do something. When you concentrate on doing your part to fulfill the Great Commission, you spend less time focusing on less important matters."
For more information about how churches can get involved in Send North America, visit namb.net/mobilize-me. To find out more about this summer's Send North America Conference and to register, visit sendconference.com.
Tobin Perry writes for the North American Mission Board. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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