Church planters banquet presents North America as critical mission field
With the spread of atheism and postmodernism and the influx of other religions, North America has become a vast mission field in need of urgent evangelism and church planting. On Oct. 13, Southwestern Seminary hosted the Fellowship of North American Church Planters fall banquet in order to challenge students and faculty to meet the escalating spiritual need for church planters in the continent.
Shane Pruitt, director of missions for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, spoke about the growing number of lost people in Texas. “Texas is home to 28 million people, roughly 16 million lost,” Pruitt explained. “Texas is by far the fastest growing state in the United States—Texas grows at about 450,000 people a year.
“That means over 1,200 people moving to Texas everyday. If you think of this in church planting, if you think that the average core team to start a new church is 30 adults, that means it would take 40 new churches planted every day just to keep up with the growth.”
Encouraging students to think of God’s call to love people and make disciples, Pruitt discussed three gifts that God gives His children to equip and challenge them to carry out the Great Commission. These gifts, Pruitt explained, were the ministries that God gave us to do in the here and now; the wonderful message of the Gospel; and the means to carry out those ministries through the power of the Holy Spirit.
After Pruitt’s presentation, Chad Vandiver, a Send Montreal missionary with the North American Mission Board, spoke on the spiritual conditions in Montreal, Canada, and explained how students can get involved in planting churches in the 32 designated NAMB Send Cities in the United States and Canada. Giving a synopsis of the ministry in Montreal as an example, Vandiver explained that although people initially said Montreal is an “impossible” mission field, God is drawing the people of the city to Christ.
“Everyone said, ‘Don’t waste your time in Montreal; churches die there,’” Vandiver said. “I am out to tell you that the [initial] group of 30 believers now is over 1,200 there in Montreal, 90 percent millennials. God is moving among the people groups. … There are huge opportunities if you go on mission and serve a city just like Montreal.”
As Vandiver entreated students to consider becoming a Send City missionary with NAMB, he said, “When you obey God, you obey your Father, and your Father becomes your King. Nothing can stop you. … God will put you in unreached places, and you will realize that life is lived best on the edge. Life is lived best when you are surrounded by people who don’t know Jesus, because that is when you realize the hope of Jesus the most.”
Professor of Baptist Church Planting at Southwestern Steve Lee, who founded the Fellowship of North American Church Planters and helped organize the annual fall banquet, says the event has motivated many students to consider North American missions. “Students are continually asking me about North American missions after the conference,” he notes.
“These conferences are wonderful opportunities for students to learn about North American missions and church planting,” he continues. “We have to penetrate the darkness on this continent. We have to take the Gospel to the ends of not only the earth, but to North America as well. These events help us to open our eyes and our hearts and to pray more. This was a wonderful, blessed event, and [it] will continue to be in the future.”