In 2010 Todd Brady met a church planter from Canada in the exhibit hall of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSC) annual meeting.
Brady, who is lead pastor of The River Church in Fayetteville, said that meeting began a relationship that took 15 of his church members to Toronto last summer. Now, Brady is leading a Global Impact Network of seven North Carolina Baptist churches to help promote the efforts of this church plant in Canada.
The pastor Brady met that year at the Convention’s annual meeting was Scott Rourk of Rendezvous Church in Toronto, Canada. After sending members of The River Church on a summer mission trip in 2011, Brady returned with other pastors as part of a vision trip in September of that year.
“For the longest time churches have been doing their own thing,” Brady said. “I see an incredible trend where churches are starting to come together.”
Rendezvous Church, the plant that is partnered with several churches in the Fayetteville area, hopes to plant 10 churches in Canada over the next few years. The goal is for the network to help Rendezvous make that a reality.
The Global Impact Networks help connect a church planter or an area/people group to churches in North Carolina.
The network “enables a smaller church that might not be able to send a large group” to partner with other churches to help in a mighty way by providing teams to help with community outreach, training, and other ministries, Brady said.
Global Impact Networks emerged as part of the strategy of BSC’s Office of Great Commission Partnerships.
Four of the seven N.C. Baptist churches committed to this network are going on a vision trip to Toronto in April to seek out ways they can partner to expand and enrich local church plants.
“We can do more together than by ourselves,” Brady said. “God just put it all together.
Potentially, all seven churches could send people on two to three mission trips this summer.
“Our church planting catalysts who make it possible” are North American Mission Board (NAMB) missionaries, said Mike Sowers, senior consultant for the Office of Great Commission Partnerships. The planters work with the Convention and these budding networks to build their outreach capacity.
Funding for these NAMB church planters comes through the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering and giving through the Cooperative Program.
When Kevin Ezell, NAMB’s president, announced a focus on church planting, NAMB launched Send North America, targeting church planters in bigger cities. NAMB cut jobs, reorganized and diverted funding from other areas of ministry to church planting.
Sowers is excited about the networks that are forming to help churches in Toronto, Boston and New York, areas of emphasis for the Convention’s Office of Great Commission Partnerships as well as for NAMB’s Send North America efforts.
Sowers said the network concept birthed out of the partnership with Toronto. The Office of Great Commission Partnerships is working to build similar networks for New York and Boston as well. Right now, North Carolina has four networks formed and two more in process. The first step is to get “boots on the ground” participating in vision trips to help form connections with church planters, Sowers said. “Our work is focusing on those networks … steering people toward a long-term focus.”
Partners can provide training and leadership resources as well as teams to help facilitate reaching communities.
Last summer The River Church taught a soccer clinic and held a Vacation Bible School in Toronto. Rourk started an after school program “because the kids wanted to come back,” Brady said.
That program led to an adult Bible study because the children were asking their parents questions about the Bible that they couldn’t answer.
Brady is excited that the “next generation type of guys are starting to get a heart” for church planting and seeking to save the lost.
The goal for all the church plants is for them to become multiplying churches.
“That’s the only way we’ll be able to even make a dent in any of these cities,” Sowers said. “We like to give to something. We like to go to something.”
In the giving and the going it is important to remember not to forget prayer, Sowers said.
Churches who might not be able to send money or people can pray for these church plants. “When a good mission network gets involved, it pushes the church planting process six months or so ahead of where they should be on their own,” Sowers said. “I’m real grateful for the new vision. I really believe we’re all working together for the same end with the same strategy.”