More than 50 new church planters were commissioned by Baptist State Convention of North Carolina staff in a service that highlighted the convention’s commitment to plant new churches and share the gospel across the state, including with the many internationals now living here.
The service and dinner were held Saturday, Nov. 10, at the Piedmont Baptist Association’s building in Greensboro. It drew primarily Hispanic and Asian church planters from across North Carolina who are partnering with the convention’s Church Planting team and receiving financial support, coaching support or both from team consultants.
Through that team, North Carolina Baptists have facilitated the planting of 494 new churches since 2014, Chuck Register told the assembly. Register is the convention’s executive leader for Church Planting and Missions Partnerships. Sixty-five percent of those new churches have non-Anglo memberships, he said.
Those new churches have counted 24,312 professions of faith in Christ as Savior during the same period, Register said.
“A commissioning service is always exciting, when we commission our brothers and sisters that God has brought from across the world,” Register said.
North Carolina is now home to more than 160 language/culture groups, most often referred to as “people groups,” in missions strategy. Some of those groups have very few Christians among them at present and constitute a major missions challenge for North Carolina Baptists.
In his keynote message based on Jeremiah 29, Register told the planters, “God has a plan for your life,” and added that the planting of that new church is part of God’s plan.
Register compared life to a tapestry being woven by God into a beautiful picture, but for now planters only see the tangle and chaos of threads from the back side of the tapestry, not God’s ultimate picture on the other side.
“Discipling new believers is part of that beautiful picture God is weaving for your life,” he said. Church planting sometimes involve pain, Register acknowledged. But when God’s plan and our pain collide, they should be driven to God, where we will find a beautiful time of worship.
North Carolina Baptists have facilitated the planting of 494 new churches since 2014.
Well over half the church planters commissioned were Hispanics, a nod to the state’s high Hispanic population, estimated at upwards of 1 million. William Ortega is church planting consultant for Hispanics. The Asian church planters were from some 70 Asian language groups the church planting team currently works with, led by church planting consultant Ralph Garay. Some of the planters have been involved in convention life for years and are starting their second, third or more churches.
Prayer by North Carolina Baptists is a key element to the church planting ministry, said Mark Gray, church planting team leader on an interim basis.
“If we can get North Carolina Baptists to pray, we will see fruits of those prayers as church planters of multiple languages are raised up across the state,” he said. Gray said the team has received numerous calls from people across the United States who say God has called them to start churches in North Carolina. Often these planters have had no prior connection with the state, Gray said, “yet they are being obedient and they come, often at great sacrifice.”
Two church planters gave testimonies of God’s faithfulness as they have started new churches.
M.C. Ko, a native of South Korea, acknowledged he has struggled during the past two years as he has helped launch a multisite Korean language church called The Connect Church in the Cary/Durham area.
Prayer has helped pull him in God’s direction, Ko said. When he is affected by turmoil, problems and stresses, he reminds himself that taking care of such challenges are God’s job, not his. Ko reminded the planters that the churches they are starting belong to Jesus, not to them.
Hispanic pastor Barry Matos told how he resisted God’s call to start a new Hispanic church in Kannapolis, but he finally surrendered and went.
Matos told how he and a small group of members managed to get their church a place to meet in a converted storefront building on Cannon Boulevard in Kannapolis. Despite having no money, they managed to install a floor, ceiling and other elements in the building. Help from the Baptist state convention and other churches was a part of that, he said.
Even getting his seven children through college at a cost of $42,000 a year up, has been possible with God’s help, he testified. “He will provide if you trust Him and are faithful and honor Him with your first fruits,” Matos said.