Mike Pittman, church planter and lead pastor of Vertical Church in Lumberton, was approved as the new Church Planting Team Leader for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) by the convention’s Executive Committee (EC) on January 29.
BSC’s Executive Leader for Church Planting and Missions Partnerships, Chuck Register, presented Pittman to the EC after conducting a nationwide search to replace Mark Gray, who recently retired.
“From a human perspective, church planting in North Carolina has been built on the shoulders of Mark Gray,” Register told the EC. “He’s provided outstanding leadership for our church planting team.”
On learning about Gray’s plan to retire, Register said he began looking for someone who has the “passion, knowledge and the administrative ability to lead our church planting team.”
He invited recommendations from his counterparts in other state conventions, staff at the North American Mission Board and those involved with church planting in North Carolina. Register said he interviewed candidates from various parts of the country including the Midwest, New England and several southern states.
“Through that process, it became obvious that Mike Pittman is the best man to lead our church planting efforts.”
Pittman has served Vertical Church since 2011. The multi-site church added locations in Bladen in 2013 and Pembroke in 2015. The church has celebrated more than 400 baptisms in seven years.
Pittman has served as a contract worker on the BSC’s church planting team since 2014, and is the primary coach in southeast North Carolina as well as a trainer for church planters in the state. He has been involved in helping develop the Sending Church Collective, a tool that helps multiply church planting in the state.
“This is a gentleman who understands the traditional, local church, which comprises a large segment of North Carolina Baptist life, having spent 11 years on staff of Hyde Park Baptist Church in Lumberton,” Register added. “He comes to us not only with a passion, knowledge and experience in church planting and church multiplication, he comes to us with an understanding of the established, traditional local church.”
“He is a proven church planter that advocates and practices both disciple-making – which is our strategy – and church multiplication.”
Pittman is a native of Maine. He told the EC he was not raised in church and dreamed of stardom in the music industry until his mid-20s.
At the age of 19, he attended Westside Baptist Church in Red Springs with his girlfriend who is now his wife.
“I heard the gospel for the first time in my life, … but my dreams for stardom were not over.”
At the age of 25, realizing he was married, had a child and did not have a record contract, Pittman said, “it’s time to grow up.” He returned to attending Westside Baptist. Four months later in a conversation with the pastor, he gave his life to Christ.
When presented to the EC as a candidate for the church planting position, Pittman said he often talks with other pastors about the need for a church planting movement in America.
“According to the traditional definition of a church planting movement, there isn’t one anywhere in North America,” he said.
He believes such a movement will help individual churches understand the call of God to reproduce the local church.
“I don’t know when we stopped understanding that God has called our church to reproduce,” said Pittman.
A church planting movement does not depend heavily on a “visionary, entrepreneurial individual’s dream,” he added, but instead it will depend on “prayer-soaked, vision-fed seeds in churches all across North Carolina. Without a supernatural move of God, this is dead in the water. But I believe God is about to do something amazing in our state. I relish the opportunity to be part of that.”
Pittman announced his resignation from Vertical Church February 3. He and his wife, Keyna, have two children.