Southwestern students given vision of how to reach North America
FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Despite presuppositions, North America remains largely unengaged. In some areas of the continent, only one church exists for every 17,345 (California), 59,760 (New York), or 121,410 (Canada) people. NAMB president Kevin Ezell shared these statistics in chapel during North American Church Planting Week at Southwestern Seminary, March 29-31.
Ezell believes the recent changes in the board’s structure will help reach more people with the Gospel.
“We are going to treat church planters as they should be treated, as the missionaries that God’s called them to be, and to provide the resources they need, and we’re going to focus an entire agency on helping them be able to do that,” said Ezell during his chapel message on March 31.
Southwestern president Paige Patterson promised Ezell that the seminary would be willing to help engage the most difficult mission fields of North America. He asked Ezell to choose a hard place, where the prospects of church planting seem impossible, and Southwestern will work with churches in the region to plant more churches.
During the annual mission focus week, the Naylor Student Center became a hub of connection, filled with 14 different church-planting mobilization organizations, including state conventions. The list included those visiting from Canada (Toronto), Colorado, Illinois, New England, Wyoming, as well as from two Texas conventions. These men helped run informational luncheons for interested students throughout the week.
These representatives, most of them church planters themselves as well as strategists and missionaries, staffed luncheons, visited classes and explained the new initiatives of their state conventions and NAMB’s methods to train and support church planters.
Steve Lee, Nehemiah professor of Baptist church planting at Southwestern, and Charles Lyons, pastor of Armitage Baptist Church in Chicago, Ill., also preached during the week. Lyons is a church planter and pastor, and Lee planted several churches in Texas and Canada, during his time with NAMB.