By Tobin Perry
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — 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, held March 31-April 1.
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 potential of the upcoming Send North America Conference, also to be held in Nashville, Aug. 3-4, 2015. Experience participants were challenged to not only attend the 2015 conference but to commit to being conference ambassadors and bring others with them. The participants also traveled to Bridgestone Arena, the site of the 2015 conference, to pray for it on site.
“NAMB exists to serve pastors and churches,” said Kevin Ezell, NAMB’s president. “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., says the Discover North America Experience has played an important part already in his church’s journey to engage in church planting. The church made the decision last year to become a church planting church. Through the experience, Smiley gained a fresh appreciation for NAMB’s Send North America strategy. Smiley says he 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.”
Smiley added that he went back to his church and began making plans to invite people from his staff and lay people to the 2015 Send North America 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 experience 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, laid out the plans for next year’s Send North America Conference and shared its potential to help mobilize Southern Baptists to plant churches throughout North America.
“We are believing that God wants to do something great in our midst on August 3-4, 2015 at the Send North America Conference,” Coe said. “I believe this gathering with pastors will help take us a step closer to that reality.”
To learn more about how NAMB can help your church through Send North America, visithttp://www.namb.net/mobilize-me. To learn more about the 2015 Send North America Conference, visithttp://www.sendconference.com.
Tobin Perry writes for the North American Mission Board.