Guest blog by Pastor Dwayne Milioni: Milioni is the lead pastor at Open Door Baptist Church in North Raleigh. Under Milioni’s leadership Open Door has trained and sent out leaders for seven church plants (check out their locations). He has also led in the formation of the North American Church Planting Foundation, a church-planting network that facilitates church planting through local churches. And he is the pastor of B21’s Nathan Akin and has had a tremendous influence on him.
Hope for NAMB
I recently had the privilege of spending several hours with the Kevin Ezell, the new president of our North American Mission Board. In sum, our time together was everything I had hoped for and more. As a pastor who is infatuated with the local church and loves church planting almost as much, I immediately connected with Dr. Ezell. Upon entering the NAMB building, I began to recall the many stories (some I assume were rumored) of NAMB’s mis-management our cooperative dollars, fudging on numbers of actual church plants, and the evident misdirection of agency priorities away from church planting, Forgive me, but I’ve been a little skeptical.
Add to the fact that I tend to be ”anti-political” in denominational affairs and have not had much success in building relationships with local associations and state conventions. Much of this is my fault for not seeing much value in “playing ball” with organizations that seem to take more than they offer to give. Still, my disappointment is minor compared to friends who have been faithful servants of our denomination and who have labored to see Southern Baptist agencies and state conventions do the right things and do them in the right ways.
I found Kevin Ezell to be a strikingly different leader. Immediately after assuming office, he began to do the right things the right way. Being directed by our recent convention to promote the GCR (the Great Commission Resurgence), president Ezell has begun his work as a “man under authority.” With a broken heart, he told us how he has had to make deep cuts into NAMB’s staff in order to reduce their budget. It takes integrity to clean up your own house before you ask someone to clean up theirs. Ezell is setting an example for other Baptist agencies and state conventions. I pray they will follow suit.
One of the most striking statements made at our meeting came when Dr. Ezell said, “a pastor would never be allowed to do what has been allowed to take place here at NAMB,” As a local church pastor that struggles to stretch every dollar given, I really connected with this comment and felt glad that we now have a leader who serves with a pastor’s heart.
After asking Dr. Ezell what he wants the “New NAMB” to look like, I was excited to hear his desire to see millions of dollars diverted to church planting. He also wants to partner with key churches to plant churches in critical areas of North America. I asked how a local church that has been planting churches apart from the traditional path might get involved and he said that what we are doing at Open Door through our North American Church Planting Foundation will serve a model for church planting within the cooperative program. This comment really encouraged me, not just because it came from our NAMB president, but for first time I felt that our approach to planting churches via a network rather than directly through a local association and state convention was acceptable. I left feeling hopeful and more a committed Southern Baptist.
I’ve heard the mantra, “We exist to serve you,” from agency officials more times than I care to remember without seeing much application. At the new NAMB, they are really trying to live this out. Change is difficult, especially when bureaucracy has set it and the word is still out if NAMB will be able reinvent itself. After meeting with Kevin Ezell, NAMB has at least one more pastor’s support, encouragement and prayers.
As a north Mississippi native, I’ve long been burdened about the need for healthy, Christ-centered churches in my home town of Corinth, and the surrounding region. Indeed, there is a “church on every corner,” but though USA Today named MS the most religious state in the Union, it also boasts the highest teen pregnancies, highest illiteracy rate, greatest obesity, and is the poorest state in the US. AND…most Southern Baptists per capita.
Thankfully, however, God is at work in Mississippi as evidenced by the One8 Network.
Based out of Senatobia, MS “ONE8 is a cooperating network of churches in partnership with the MS Baptist Convention, focused on developing pastors and multiplying congregations. It is our firm conviction that we must embrace the call to plant churches in order to fulfill the Great Commission, and no one else is given that stewardship more than the local church. We seek to do this through shared financial resources, intentional relationships, accessible church-planting churches, and an approved system of planter assessment, training, and coaching.”
Learn more about One8 and how to get involved at their website, http://one8.org/. If you are serving in a church or thinking of church planting in MS, we encourage you to connect with One8.
In the past Baptist21 has let our readers know about a church-planting network in NC called PlantNC. It is their mission to be a network of churches, pastors, leaders and planters whose mission is to make disciples through the planting of gospel centered churches. So, in order to carry out that mission PlantNC has an exciting opportunity coming up that Baptist21 would like our readers to know about: Porterbrook NC Training
Recommendations for Porterbrook:
Tim Keller “The Porterbrook Network is an innovative resource that offers affordable, high quality training for mission and ministry in the 21st century. I warmly recommend it.”
Alan Hirsch “Porterbrook? Do it!”
Note from B21: We are excited to announce that the author of this post, Paul, is a new B21 contributor. Paul serves on staff at the Church at Brook Hills. Paul and his family just returned from serving the Lord in a context overseas that was primarily Muslim. He will release two blogs over the next few days that have been influenced from his time spent overseas and conversations with Brook Hills Global Disciple Making Pastor Jonathan B and Lead Pastor David Platt. Please welcome Paul to the B21 team.
The Church is the primary agent ordained by God to accomplish the Great Commission. Yet, after 2000 years, many churches neglect this fundamental truth. For many churches today, global mission is something that happens once a year, sometime between VBS and the youth summer camp. It seems that the local church hasn’t always lived up to the example that we see in the book of Acts. Obviously, there is no perfect church that has it all figured out. What I want to do is begin a conversation that helps us think through how the church can most effectively proclaim the gospel, make disciples, and plant churches for the glory of God in all nations.
Unfortunately, many churches today have decided to pass off their role in the Great Commission to mission organizations and campus ministries. Engaging unreached people groups, training missionaries, and sending them out is something many churches allow the IMB, Campus Crusade, and the North American mission board to do. And as helpful as those organizations can be in serving the church toward her mission, my fear is that we have decided that the responsibility is not ours and have passed it off to these Para church organizations. I am convinced that this strategy is not good enough for the church of Jesus Christ.
All churches have been given one mission, “Make disciples of all nations…” (Matt. 28). The word “nations” is best understood as ethno-linguistic peoples, not geo-political nations, but people groups with their own language and culture. The church has one central mission and that is to make disciples among all people groups. We are not commanded to build buildings, start choirs, or have the most dynamic children’s ministry. We are called, commissioned, and commanded to make disciples and that command is global in scope (“all nations”).
We have one mission, but we strive to accomplish that one mission in two contexts. First, we strive to make disciples in “reached” contexts. Reached contexts are areas around the world where the church already exists. Our primary role in reached contexts is to help strengthen the existing church. In the book of Acts, Paul and Barnabas are described as returning to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch and “strengthening” the souls of the disciples (Acts 14:22). Based on that text and others in Acts (15:32, 41; 18:23) the role of the church in reached contexts is primarily to help strengthen the existing churches.
Second, we also strive to make disciples in “unreached” contexts. Unreached contexts are areas around the world where the church does not yet exist. Our primary role in unreached contexts is to help establish and plant the church. In the book of Acts and Romans, the apostle Paul is regularly taking the gospel into unchartered territory and laboring to help establish the church (Acts 13-22 and Romans 15:20-24). Currently, in our world, there are many areas where the church does not yet exist. There is much work to be done in the unreached contexts.
The majority of local churches are involved in global mission in the reached contexts. That is good. We need to continue to go to those areas and help strengthen the existing churches and assist them in making disciples, caring for the poor, widows, and orphans. At the same time, more churches need to place a higher emphasis on the unreached areas and people groups around the globe. The church does not exist or is very weak among the Tajik’s (Tajikistan/Afghanistan), Yemini Arabs (Yemen), Somali (Kenya/Ethiopia/Somalia), and Malay (Malaysia). It is not enough to shuttle a group of people to Central America once a year, build some houses, and say that we are doing global missions. Fulfilling the Great Commission involves evangelism, disciple making, and church planting. This is a mandate that involves every Christian, and every Church, for 365 days a year. There is one mission, but we strive to accomplish this mission in two different contexts. Let’s get active in strengthening and establishing the church for the glory of God among all nations!
B21 would like to make our reader’s aware of the 25th annual Pastor’s Conference at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida. This year’s conference is built around the topic of “Endurance.” FBC Jax has done a great job in putting together a diverse group of speakers. B21 is thankful for the leadership of Mac Brunson and his son Trey in developing this conference.
When: Jan. 28-Feb. 1
Where: First Baptist Jacksonville, Fl.
In Addition to the main conference, FBC JAX is hosting a conference for church planters – for information click here
Not only will attendees be blessed by our sessions and speakers, but we also provide each attendee with the following: -Several “take home” items to help them replicate what they learn at our conference (i.e., books, sermons, art files for sermon series, magazines, etc.) - All session outlines and handouts available (post-conference, online) - The opportunity for a one-on-one counseling session through our Counseling Ministry and Pastoral staff, available for free upon request - FREE child care (birth – Kindergarten) to provide ministry families an opportunity to rest and re-energize - Financial assistance for those who cannot afford to attend the conference. We offer scholarships as well as free housing to ensure that if a pastor is facing financial difficulties we have an opportunity to help and bless him in his ministry
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