Church planters form partnerships at Plano conference

The Send North America Conference attracted more than 4,200 church planters, pastors and other church leaders. General sessions, breakouts and workshops were designed to encourage and support planters and help churches to continue to transform their communities with the Gospel. (Photo by John Swain/NAMB)

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PLANO (BP)—New York City church planter Patrick Thompson started New City Church in Queens only a few months ago and wasn’t sure exactly what to expect when he arrived at the 2013 Send North America Conference.

Joined by three other New York-based church planter apprentices with the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board—Jon Carr, Jason Jasper and Scott Stallard—Thompson hoped to learn more nuts and bolts, and to make some good contacts with existing churches.

send connections400Creating environments for connections was one of the primary goals of the North American Mission Board’s Send North America Conference at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas. A late-night fellowship allowed church planters to spend time with pastors and other church leaders at a more relaxed pace. (Photos by John Swain/NAMB)What he gained at the conference, held recently at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, in terms of connecting with potential partners was priceless, he insisted.

“We probably accomplished more in 30 minutes eating our Chick-fil-A sandwiches than we would have in exchanging emails for three weeks,” Thompson said.

Connections included churches in South Carolina and Georgia that expressed potential for financial and other partnership. Thompson also spoke with a Hispanic leader who could connect him with leaders to serve the Spanish-speaking population New City Church is trying to reach.

send blackwood300Rick Blackwood, lead pastor of Christ Fellowship in Miami, spoke about the specific needs and opportunities in Miami.Additionally, Thompson said, he and several other New York City church planters compared notes on ministry, family and other important factors affecting planters in hard-to-reach areas of the Northeast.

“New York is a big place,” said Thompson. “It’s more difficult than you would think to have ongoing connection with other leaders in the city. It was cool that we just got to sit down together and talk about how ministry is going, how our families are doing and just to connect on a personal level like that.”

Connections like these were an important element in planning the Send North America Conference, said Aaron Coe, NAMB’s vice president for mobilization and marketing.

“When I was a church planter, I would have loved more opportunities to have planters and partners under one roof,” Coe said. “I’m excited to see what opportunities and partnerships emerge.”

send illustrater400Illustrator William Warren highlighted moments from the Send North America Conference on the Social Mural wall in the conference’s connection area. Warren also collected Sketchnotes to provide overviews of key presentations by speakers at the event. The Sketchnotes can be viewed at church planting track included breakouts and workshops led by seasoned church planting leaders and practitioners discussing everything from bivocational planting to leadership development to dealing with the emotional and spiritual burdens of church planting in tough mission fields.

Thompson noted workshops connected him with New York planters he had not met in person and gave him opportunities to hear the heart of established churches already partnering in the city.

“A big part of what made it so powerful was just seeing how many leaders were praying for and partnering with and just thinking about the work” in New York City, Thompson said. “It just feels like we’ve turned a huge corner as Southern Baptists. Can’t wait to see what happens next.”

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