I was in a meeting the other day at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in Prestonsburg where the discussion centered around a new Baptist initiative called Multiply East Kentucky, which focuses on planting new churches in the mountain region.
After some time to digest the content, I was reminded of Nehemiah 4:19 and 20 where I can see four distinct parallels.
Church planting in eastern Kentucky will come from eastern Kentucky
Nehemiah was called back home to lead God’s people to renew their faith in God’s promise and rebuild His city. Jason Lowe, director of missions in Pike Association of Southern Baptists, said the people who plant successful churches in eastern Kentucky will come from eastern Kentucky.
Like Nehemiah there are those from eastern Kentucky who God is training and leading to rise up or return to their homeland to serve God and His people. Indigenous leadership is important for success in any culture and eastern Kentucky is no different. Blake Lawyer, pastor of Christ Community Church in Shelbyville, while teaching on how to be a successful church planter said: “A church planter should plant a church that meets the need of the community rather than the church you always wanted.” What better way to know the needs of a community than for a church planter to draw from his roots?
Sound the call
When finishing, the wall became overwhelming and the people saw the rubble as an obstacle rather than opportunity, Nehemiah moved into action. It seems like Nehemiah always had a plan and was able to communicate it with confidence.
The planning phase for Multiply East Kentucky has been vocalized publicly for the last year, however, godly leaders from eastern Kentucky have been praying for and working toward a move of God in eastern Kentucky all along. I can only imagine the number of Jews who spent countless hours in prayer to God asking for Him to bring revival to their distressed and reproached people.
God is sounding the call for the great need in eastern Kentucky through a collective rally cry from Kentucky Baptists. Hard facts and statistical data gain flesh when leaders from across our commonwealth visit the communities where churches are needed.
In Chapter 1, Nehemiah heard about the condition of the Jews and Jerusalem and in Chapter 2, he witnessed it with his own eyes. Chris Dortch, pastor of First Baptist Church of Mount Sterling, taught about how to be a good sending church. Simply put, he taught how to effectively sound the call:
1) Communicate the need.
2) Communicate the vision.
3) Enlist visioneering teams.
4) Enlist vision carriers.
Which brings us to the next takeaway.
Gather the people
Nehemiah’s plan included sounding the call and gathering the people. God has designed us to need Him and each other. Often the need for revival comes from slowly drifting from God and from God’s people.
This Multiply East Kentucky meeting was the third meeting of its kind and certainly not the last. Jeremy Couture, pastor of Unity Baptist in Ashland, KY, announced a way to respond on May 21 by participating in a vision tour.
“We would love to have you visit our area to see if God is calling you to plant a church there,” Jeremy told people.
The church planting team at KBC and the Multiply East Kentucky Task Force are planning other vision tours as well. Several activities are planned in conjunction with this year’s KBC annual meeting. Todd Gray, Evangelism and Church Planting team leader, and his staff are recruiting volunteers for multiple events leading up to and in conjunction with the annual meeting. Boots on the ground will bring both acute awareness of the need and opportunities to serve through God-honoring activities.
Our God will fight for us
Nehemiah was sure to give credit where credit is due, Elohim. In a society that is desperately looking for the spotlight, Nehemiah attributed any success to God before the battle began.
The work of God will saturate those who gather for His purpose. Everyone on the discussion panel recognized God as the author of their call and their work.
Andrew Eaton: “God is author of our calling and the work we do.”
Bobby Carnes: “The challenge of God’s call begins as a work within us and then manifests itself into what He wants us to be and do.”
Lester Tirey: “I have solidified my calling and I am excited to see what God is going to do with me in this new phase of ministry.”
Alex Kinchen: “Church Planters must plant churches from pure motives.”
The need for God’s power was evident throughout the meeting. Each speaker used scriptural evidence for their teaching and each session was concluded in prayer.
Lawyer used a puzzle as an illustration of how each of us hold key components of God’s big picture. He encouraged us to discover how we fit in the puzzle.
Clear Creek Baptist Bible College holds a very important part of the puzzle; investing in the theological and practical education of those God has called into the ministry.
“We are committed to do all we can to train God called leaders,” said Clear Creek President Donnie Fox. “Our Bible-centered degree and church plant initiative is a great way to invest in the future leadership in eastern Kentucky or anywhere for that matter.”
For more information about our 3plus1 Church Plant Initiative visit www.ccbbc.edu/3plus1 or call our Admissions Director Greg Young at 606-337-3196.
Shannon Benefiel is dean of institutional advancement at Clear Creek Baptist Bible College in Pineville, Ky.