Every Easter, three congregations located hundreds of miles apart join together in a single service to worship and celebrate the resurrection of Christ.
When individuals give to the North Carolina Missions Offering, some of those funds go toward planting churches all across the state.
The congregations are part of three different church plants known as Lifezone Fellowship. Pastor and church planter Noel De Asis planted the first Lifezone Fellowship in Durham in 2010 and later planted additional churches in Fayetteville and Jacksonville.
The Easter worship services held at the N.C. Baptist Assembly at Fort Caswell illustrate the unity and diversity of the body of Christ.
The gathering also illustrates the importance and the need for multiplying church plants in North Carolina.
“Different churches reach different people,” says Mark Gray, who leads the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSC) Church Planting Team.
“And statistics repeatedly demonstrate that new church plants are one of the most effective ways to reach new people with the gospel of Christ.”
Gray’s team works with churches, Baptist associations and church-planting networks to facilitate the launch of new churches.
Since 2007, the state convention has helped more than 1,000 new churches across the state get started, which is an average of more than 100 new churches that are started annually.
In 2016 alone, the convention worked with 99 new churches – 67 new church plants and 32 new affiliate churches. These churches receive training, coaching and support to help them reach their communities for Christ.
The North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO) is vital to the convention’s church planting efforts. NCMO provides nearly one-third of the BSC Church Planting Team’s budget each year. This year, 28 percent of the funds received through the offering will go toward planting new churches in North Carolina.
“We are thankful for the generosity of North Carolina Baptists whose gifts help make church planting possible through the NCMO,” Gray said.
From July 2016 to June 2017, new churches have reported more than 4,400 professions of faith.
And many of the new churches are seeking to reach individuals from North Carolina’s growing international population.
Of the new churches that the BSC Church Planting Team worked with in 2016, 70 percent were non-Anglo congregations with a primary language other than English.
Those churches are representative of the Lifezone Fellowship congregations, whose members come from a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
“That’s the beautiful thing about Christianity,” said one Lifezone member who attended this past year’s combined Easter worship service at Fort Caswell.
“We can all come together as one, and that’s what it’s all about. It’s not about culture, black, white or whatever.
“It’s all about Jesus Christ.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – To watch a video about Lifezone Fellowship, visit vimeo.com/channels/ncmo. To learn more about the North Carolina Missions Offering, visit ncmissionsoffering.org.)