Final in a series
Talk to N.C. Baptists who serve in Vermont and sooner or later you’ll hear a plea for help:
- Come plant a church.
- Come pastor a church.
- Come for a time and help churches reach out.
- Send money.
“If you feel the Lord is leading you here and you’re too scared to take that step, trust the Lord and come,” urges North Carolina native Chris Autry, serving in Barre, Vt. “Yes, it will be hard. Yes, the winters are brutal. But you see one person saved, and you will forget about how hard winter is. You will forget how hard the cultural things are.”
BSC photo by Mike Creswell
Chris Autry, a North Carolina native, serves Faith Community Church in Barre, Vt. He is among several North Carolina Baptists who have made a move to pastor or help plant churches there. Just like in North Carolina, Autry focuses on disciple-making.
“Volunteer teams are blessed, because they get to see God at work in a different place,” said Mark Abernathy, who coordinates partnerships for N.C. Baptists on Mission, also known as Baptist Men. “Though Vermont is part of the United States, it’s not like North Carolina.”
“We had four church plants that either have launched in 2017 or [were planned to] launch by the end of the year,” said Lyandon Warren, Vermont church planting catalyst for the the North American Mission Board (NAMB).
“We are praying that God will continue to raise up church planters within Vermont and also to send in more from outside the state. God is continuing to do miraculous things.”
Warren said there are many ways to help the work in Vermont.
“I dream of seeing teams of North Carolina believers come plant a self-sustaining, multiplying, multi-site church, using all sorts of methods to reach people,” Warren said. “At the end of the day, that is the goal: To reach people for Christ, to make disciples who make disciples and to see churches planted.
“If we had enough planters, we could do eight or 16 new churches a year. We’re just praying Luke 10:2, that the Lord will send out the laborers to bring in the harvest.”
North Carolina churches can help with this “calling out of the called,” Warren said.
“If churches could just get a vision for continually putting out the call for people to surrender to ministry, to seek out individuals that leaders think could be church planters,” Warren said. “I’m not saying they have to abandon their vocations, but that they can simply choose to do what they’re currently doing in a different context that is unchurched. That’s what New England is – it’s an unreached people group.
“Reaching New England will require that many more people tell God that they’re willing to quit their current jobs and move to new work in New England – and commit to share their Christian faith with co-workers and circles of influence, to say, ‘I’d be willing to be part of a church planting team. I may not be the lead pastor, but I can lead a small group. I can do outreach. I can certainly serve my church, and I’d be willing to do that.’
“When numbers of people start doing this, it will be a game changer,” Warren promised.
NAMB now has a trainer whose mission is to train bivocational church planters.
“This is huge!” Warren said. “This opens the door for so many more people, not to quit work and go to seminary for five years, but they can get training and then go plant a church.”
Some rural areas of Vermont, for example, likely will require pastors who can also hold down a secular job to support themselves.
“We need hundreds of teams serving across New England in both cities and rural areas, Warren said. “It will take urban hub churches, multiplying churches as well as small, rural churches to get the gospel where it needs to go.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – If you or your church are interested in learning more about opportunities to serve in Vermont, contact Mark Abernathy with at [email protected] or 919-459-5607.)