Published November 23, 2006
DULUTH — There’s a lot more going on in church planting in Georgia than meets the eye, say church planters and sponsoring pastors who attended the Missional Impact Church Planter and Partner Rally on Nov. 13. The breakfast gathering was held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the GBC, held nearby at the Gwinnett Arena.
Nearly 100 individuals attended the session hosted by Cross Pointe Church at Gwinnett Center. The meeting, which was sponsored by the state convention’s New Church Development Ministries and New Work Fellowship, launched the statewide Missional Impact Group initiative.
Passion and enthusiasm
“I think it helped those who attended to realize that there is more going on ‘out there’ in church planting in Georgia than what we hear about,” said Butch Butcher of Loganville. Butcher, who started Summit Baptist Church in March 1994, noted that his congregation has become a mother church to other new works and is encouraging other churches to become involved in a sponsoring role.
“We just launched The Church at The Grove in Walnut Grove in September and gave it two of our staff and about 30 families, including five deacon families. They are now averaging 150 and virtually meet in our backyard, just two miles from our primary campus,” he said.
“It was a real blessing to hear the passion and enthusiasm of those young church planters who attended the meeting. I remember my early years at Summit. It’s exciting to be on the ground floor of a new church start.”
Butcher’s congregation is also helping start another congregation, The Summit at Madison.
David Rathel, senior pastor at Rivertown Church in Columbus, said he was “greatly encouraged” by the multiplication of new churches in the state in recent years. His five-year-old congregation is involved in starting LifePointe Church, also in Columbus.
“I strongly believe that churches need to be born in the generation they are trying to reach to be most effective with that generation. We have had so much change in recent years that many times it is difficult for older, more established churches to adapt to the newer formats used in reaching those with no church background,” he explained.
Rathel praised the Convention’s New Church Development department with providing visionary leadership and for creating a climate that encourages partnerships between churches and church planters.
GBC Executive Director J. Robert White told the group that “every healthy church ought to engage in multiplication. It’s a fact that every healthy organism reproduces itself. If we are to effectively reach Georgia for Christ, we must plant many new churches across our state.
“A birth is always exciting and it is a great joy for us when Georgia Baptists can join hands cooperating together to birth new churches all across Georgia.”
Jim Millirons, who oversees the GBC’s church planting ministries, said he believes “with all my heart that God is orchestrating a church planting movement to impact every culture and community in Georgia. These new Georgia Baptist churches, in name and nature, will be God-birthed, and so by definition will be characterized by doctrinal purity and missional integrity.
“Though their biblical functions will take on the indigenous, cultural forms in context and perhaps look a little different, they will nonetheless affirm the Baptist Faith and Message (2000) as their doctrinal confession and the Cooperative Program as their best missional expression.”
Church planter/pastor Tyrone Barnett of Peace Baptist Church in Decatur noted the enthusiasm which others characterized as the driving force of the meeting.
“The world of church planting can be a very lonely place. We are a church planting church and it was great to be in the same room with those of like minds. It was just like being in the locker room of a football team; we got charged up to go out and take the world for Christ.”
The Georgia Baptist Convention added a record 103 churches in 2005, breaking the former record of 72 set the previous year. Brian Bloye, church planter/pastor of fast-growing West Ridge Church in Dallas, was keynote speaker for the event.
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