Month: February 2016

Teenagers lead 5 to Christ at Wendy”s restaurant

ARLINGTON—South Texas cheerleaders in a crowded Wendy’s restaurant near the University of Texas at Arlington wound up with more than fast food on a recent Saturday. The girls had a life-changing encounter with Christ due to the boldness of teens attending the SBTC’s Student Evangelism Conference (SEC) North at Arlington’s Fielder Church, Jan. 15-16.

“We encouraged the [students] to pray for one person to share the gospel with,” said Bobby Worthington, Criswell College associate professor of missions and evangelism who assisted at SEC North and South, held Jan. 22-23 at San Antonio’s Castle Hills First Baptist Church.

Worthington accompanied youth from First Baptist Church of Bells to Wendy’s where they discovered that students from First Baptist Church Paris had just shared Christ with the cheerleaders.

 “I talked to the cheerleader coach to let her know we were with a youth conference and asked if some of our girls could talk to hers,” said Nate Law, FBC Paris student pastor.

A college cheerleader accompanying the group from FBC Paris facilitated the encounter, Law said. “That just opened up the door big time [with the sponsor].”

Law challenged two high school girls to share their faith with half the 10-member squad while a college student shared with the others. Four of the cheerleaders trusted Christ.

“Our girls stayed in touch with them afterward, texting them and sharing scriptures,” Law said.

Cheerleaders weren’t the only ones saved at Wendy’s that day.

Worthington and the FBC Bells students met Keith, whose car had stalled in the parking lot. After helping jumpstart Keith’s car, Worthington invited him into the restaurant and bought him lunch. “He seemed interested. We sat around the table. As I shared the gospel with him, the students began to talk, too.”

The Holy Spirit’s presence was clear, Worthington said. Keith trusted Christ at Wendy’s while restaurant employees watched.

The 2016 SEC North and South events drew a total of 1,708 students from all over Texas, SBTC student ministry associate Garrett Wagoner told the TEXAN.

“We challenge lost students to come to Christ, and we equip saved students to share their faith,” Wagoner said, reporting 130 salvations among SEC attendees, 13 salvations from evangelism efforts, 28 calls to ministry and 58 requests for baptism.

“We are seeing a generation of students embrace the gospel and accept the challenge to take the gospel to Texas and to the ends of the earth,” Wagoner said. “There is a real harvest among teenagers today, and we believe that we can see a true movement of God when teenagers are challenged with the gospel.”

Church Planting is Not Only For “Big” Churches

When it comes to church planting and multiplication, there is a common misconception that it’s mainly a “BIG” church activity. However, making disciples and sending people out with the gospel to multiply ourselves is a calling and command for every single church, no matter the size. In the Book of Acts, Luke tells us, “The word of God increased and multiplied” (Acts 12:24). How did the word of God increase and multiply in the early church? It increased and multiplied rapidly because churches were reaching people with the gospel, discipling them and sending them out to start new churches. Guess what? Most likely these local churches were only made up of a few dozen of people, not thousands. 

Sometimes churches and pastors feel inadequate because of the size of their congregation and are tempted to use their size as an excuse to not to be involved in starting new churches. Our “everything is bigger in Texas” mentality can often be a hindrance for local churches who think they’re too small compared to most other churches. However, out of the 2,500-plus churches in the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, 88 percent of them average less than 250 in attendance. On a national level, the average church size is between 75-125 people. Interestingly, what is considered by some to be “small” in Texas is actually the size of most churches, so they wouldn’t be small at all. They are actually great, normal-sized, New Testament churches with huge potential of kingdom impact.

Praise God for mega-churches, medium-sized churches and what some may consider “small” churches that are multiplying themselves by planting autonomous churches. Wait, there are what some consider “small” churches already planting new works? Absolutely! Here are examples of two pastors and churches that resisted the temptation to view their size as a limitation and helped plant new churches.

Jason Crandall is the pastor of CityView Church in Pearland. CityView was 18 months old, averaging 125 people, when they planted their first autonomous church with 24 people in Alvin. Crandall says that, “Since then, we’ve had our best giving months and our church, CityView Pearland, has grown to average of 144, while also adding 2 more Life Groups. Planting was actually a momentum builder for us. We believe that size doesn’t matter in church planting; faith does.”

Kevin Cox is the pastor of Vista Church in Heartland. Vista is currently averaging 180 on Sunday mornings, and they have been a part of 15 churches being planted across the U.S., Canada and India. They have also just recently started financially supporting two more churches in the last month. In the churches they plant, Vista makes a three-year financial commitment, along with monthly coaching and other resources. Cox says, “Church planting and multiplication is in the DNA of Vista Church. One of our value statements that directly impacts church multiplication is: ‘Size does not determine kingdom impact.’”

Often, as leaders, we have to settle several questions in our hearts because the answers directly affect the way we lead and shepherd the flock that God has entrusted to us. “Do I believe that God can do the extraordinary with the ordinary? Do I really believe that God can use this congregation to make a kingdom impact? Is this church going to be about expanding the kingdom of God or expanding our own little kingdom?”

In the Missions Department, we are currently in the early stages of creating a one-day seminar on strategic and practical ways for smaller churches to be involved in church planting and multiplication. If you’re an associational leader, pastor or leader interested in talking more about this, please contact me here. Also, join me in praying for a church planting explosion in our state, as congregations of all sizes partner together to reach Texas.