More than 260 church planters, pastors and spouses came together in Nashville, Tenn., to learn about and engage with Send North America through the Discover North America Experience.
The Nashville gathering both introduced church leaders to the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) Send North America strategy and cast a vision for the Send North America Conference, to be held next year at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Aug. 3-4. Participants met at the Renaissance Nashville Hotel and visited the arena during their meeting to pray for 2015 conference.
Those who have attended past Send conferences were challenged to not only attend the 2015 event but to commit to being conference ambassadors and bring others with them.
NAMB photo by John Swain
Pastors and church leaders participating in the Discover North America Experience in Nashville April 1 took time to pray for the 2015 Send North America Conference in the Bridgestone Arena, the venue that will host next year’s gathering. Southern Baptist Convention and North American Mission Board leaders helped cast vision for the 2015 catalytic event.
“NAMB exists to serve pastors and churches,” Kevin Ezell, NAMB’s president, said during the March 31-April 1 Discover North America Experience meeting. “We wanted this gathering to be a time when pastors could see how we want to assist them as they seek to push back lostness in North America.”
Tom Smiley, senior pastor of Lakewood Baptist Church in Gainesville, Ga., said the Discover event will play an important role in his church’s ongoing journey to engage in church planting. He said he has gained a fresh appreciation for NAMB’s Send North America strategy, and was particularly excited to see young Southern Baptist leaders involved in the effort.
“I was very, very impressed,” Smiley said a few days after the meeting. “I learned a tremendous amount. I really believe I understand more fully the strategy and implementation of the Send North America strategy – both as a senior pastor and as a Southern Baptist. I’m very impressed with what we’re doing and the strategy we’re using to see that fulfilled.”
After returning to his church, Smiley has begun making plans to invite people from his staff and lay people to the 2015 Send conference.
Send North America is NAMB’s national strategy to help Southern Baptist churches plant new congregations in 32 of the largest, most influential and least-reached cities in North America.
Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Ronnie Floyd, pastor of Cross Church of Northwest Arkansas, and Randy Davis, the executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, spoke at the Discover meeting along with NAMB leaders. Floyd cast a vision for Send North America and shared about the need for church planting in North America’s large urban center.
Aaron Coe, NAMB’s vice president for mobilization and marketing, shared plans for next year’s Send conference and addressed its potential to help mobilize Southern Baptists to plant churches throughout North America. Nearly 2,000 people attended the conference at First Baptist Church Woodstock, Ga., in 2012. The attendance more than doubled in 2013 at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas.
“We are believing that God wants to do something great in our midst … at the Send North America Conference,” Coe said. “I believe this gathering with pastors will help take us a step closer to that reality.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tobin Perry writes for the North American Mission Board.)