Nestled deep in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, about 15 miles from Asheville, is Black Mountain. The town is home to around 7,500 people – many of whom have never had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
In March 2018, Trent Holbert followed God’s call to move with his wife and children to plant The Ridge Church in this area of western North Carolina.
The Ridge Church Facebook page photo
“We’re the island of misfit toys. We’re a place where we recognize that we are broken and we don’t necessarily fit any place other than together,” Holbert says. “We have a church that is full of bohemians, hippies, drug addicts, young, old, lots of different lifestyles, but one thing in common. That Jesus is the common denominator to healing and development.”
Holbert, with a longtime interest in fitness, nutrition and health, also works as a personal trainer in the area and uses a spiritually holistic model in working with clients, which gives him opportunities to witness to individuals who may be hesitant to step through a church door.
Like Teresa, who hired Holbert as a trainer without knowing he was a pastor:
“People who weren’t raised in that kind of community, they’re scared to go out there, they’re scared to read the Bible and do a lot of things,” Teresa says. “Knowing Trent, and trusting him, has opened my faith to question more and want to know more.”
With approximately 4,300 existing Baptist churches in North Carolina, some may wonder whether planting new churches is a necessary strategy to reaching the lost. However, statistics repeatedly demonstrate that new church plants are one of the most effective ways to reach unbelievers with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
According to a 2015 study by LifeWay, 42 percent of people worshipping in churches launched since 2008 never attended church previously or had not attended in many years.
“If there is a way to change lives without building relationship, I’ve not learned how to do that yet,” Holbert says. “But I think when people see a church like this, there’s just an automatic curiosity and attention. I want to be in a place where people are broken and they know it. We want to see God write His story on their lives.”
As North Carolina continues to be one of the fastest growing states in the nation, we have a unique opportunity to reach the lost – estimated at 5.8 million in our state alone. And as our state becomes more culturally and ethnically diverse, planting disciple-making churches is essential in pushing back darkness and impacting lostness.
The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) works with churches, associations and church-planting networks to facilitate the launch of new churches.
The North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO) is vital to the convention’s church planting efforts, providing approximately one-third of the church planting team’s annual budget.
Since 2007, the BSC has worked with more than 1,000 new churches across the state. On average, more than 100 new churches are started each year in North Carolina. In 2018, the convention worked with 80 churches – 57 new church plants and 23 new affiliate churches. These churches reported more than 150,000 evangelistic contacts, 7,117 professions of faith and nearly 7,000 in average worship attendance.
In His sovereignty, God is continuing to bring the nations to North Carolina. Our church planting consultants are committed to getting the gospel to these individuals in their heart language by planting churches to reach, evangelize and disciple individuals within these language communities.
“We left everything to come to a place we’ve never been, to a people we’ve never met, to serve the God that we know is true,” Holbert says. “And we’ve never regretted it.”
Twenty-eight percent of this year’s offering will go toward planting new churches across North Carolina. Through your faithful giving to the NCMO, you help plant churches that make disciples of Jesus Christ.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Caroline Barnhill is a contributing writer with the BSC. This article was originally published at ncbaptist.org.)