FIRST PERSON: CHURCH PLANTING IS IMPORTANT
Tim Shrader – Baptist State Convention of Michigan
FENTON, MI – Click, click, click… most of us know the sound of the roller coaster as it climbs to the pinnacle and then drops us into an exhilarating thrill ride. This metaphor isn’t perfect, but in many ways it describes the emotions my wife Debbie and I have felt in our journey to living and ministering in Michigan.
(Photo courtesy Rollercoaster.com)
The clicking sound would relate to the efforts of buying a home, setting up utilities, transferring our vehicles from Illinois to Michigan and the like. While still unpacking boxes; yes, we are still unpacking boxes after three weeks; we set off on the thrill ride of working with church planters, meeting pastors, looking for a church home, and learning our way around the area of southeast Michigan where we now live.
Everyone we have met has been wonderful. They have been so kind and welcoming. I love working with the BSCM staff and my fellow NAMB church planting catalysts. The Great Commission is still Christ’s calling on our lives; all of our lives as believers. To carry the gospel into spiritual darkness in Michigan is both challenging and exciting. That’s where the exhilaration of this “thrill ride” comes in; we, you and I, by the power of Almighty God, get to see lives transformed forever by the salvation only Jesus brings. We are the carriers of that message! Through our individual witness, through established churches and through the planting of new churches all over the state of Michigan, we get to see the darkness overcome and lives changed!
In the mid 90’s, my family and I moved to Wisconsin and planted a church. I was an associate pastor over student ministry at a large church in Texas at the time. God’s call to plant a church came out of the blue. We obeyed and moved to Wisconsin. Planting a church was both the hardest work I’ve ever done and the most fulfilling. We saw lives changed. We saw disciples grow. We saw a church birthed. Due to my father’s health issues, we moved back to Illinois in 2002, and for the past thirteen years I have been serving as a pastor in central/southern Illinois. But my passion for church planting never went away. I led my church to be engaged with church planters in Wisconsin, Missouri, and Pennsylvania. And now I have the privilege of serving as a Church Planting Catalyst here in the great state of Michigan.
Church planting is important. Across the realm of evangelical Christianity in America, statistics have shown that more lost people come to faith in Christ through church planting than through any other means. Church planters are focused on evangelism and discipleship. They are gospel centered, and God is using church planters an new church plants.
Earlier this week I met with three men desiring to be church planters in the greater Lansing area. Two of them are Korean-Americans, having emigrated from South Korea in the 1990’s. One desires to plant a church that will reach the Korean population in East Lansing and Okemos with the truth of the gospel. The other is already working with international students at Michigan State University and wants to plant a Southern Baptist collegiate church focusing on internationals at Michigan State. The third man is an Anglo with a passion for discipleship and meeting peoples’ needs. God is raising up Christ followers of every ethnicity and culture to carry the gospel to Michigan. By God’s grace, I get to be a part of what He is doing!
I pray that you too will be a part of this exhilarating move of God.