Cypress church plant reaching souls, strengthening families

CYPRESS — As God was nudging Joseph Ogletree toward church planting, he also was burdening Ogletree about the need in today’s culture for strong families. A result of that dual vision is Image Church in Cypress, a new congregation partnering with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

About four years ago, “God really started putting on my heart church planting and family,” Ogletree said. Beginning with telling Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, “the family was essential to God’s advancement of his will,” he said.

Yet families today are broken. “In order to restore that, we believe that the gospel is a great place to start,” Ogletree said.

He started talking with mentors about possibilities and ended up serving in a residency program at CityView Church in Pearland. “That’s how I got connected with Southern Baptists,” Ogletree said.

“God gave me some clarity of the vision,” he said. “I learned more about church planting, and in November 2016, we were officially sent by CityView, and we just basically had small group Bible study for an entire year.”

During that year, God sent people to form the core team, and Image Church launched in October 2017.

“Our mission was always centered around the family and growing the family of God,” Ogletree said. “We centralize it on two aspects: making disciples and building families. That’s been our mission since day one.”

Much like its attention to the family, the church’s name came from Genesis.

“God made us in his image. We are to be the image bearers of God,” Ogletree said. “In Colossians, Paul said that we would be conformed to the image of his Son. Wherever we go, we are to be the image bearers of Christ. We are his representatives on the earth.”

The predominantly African-American congregation meets at Black Elementary School in Cypress and averages about 75 people. Though the journey is still new, lives have been changed already, Ogletree said.

“One that comes to mind is a guy who’s really just blossomed and grown. He shares that he was lost and he didn’t know how to be a man and lead his family. His marriage was not in the best place. He and his wife came to us, and he got connected, and now he’s serving. He’s leading our men’s ministry, and he smiles every Sunday,” Ogletree said. “His testimony is about how the church has changed his life.

“It keeps you going, stories like that.”

Ogletree is a bivocational pastor, retaining his full-time software sales job while serving as a church planter. His secular career gives him opportunities to share his faith, he said.

“I’m in customers’ offices. I get to demonstrate to everyone who I am as a believer, my journey. From that aspect, I really enjoy the bivocational role,” Ogletree said.

At the same time, being a bivocational pastor is “extremely difficult” because of time constraints. He and his wife, Sherrell, have three sons: Jaiden, Josiah and Jaxon, ages 12, 10 and 6.

“Family is my first ministry, so I do my best to cut out time for family and be available to them, be at football games and basketball games and have our time. I try to make sure ministry and work doesn’t interfere with that,” Ogletree said.

Ogletree is thankful for the relationships he has developed in the SBTC and the resources available. “They’re very missions-minded, and that’s what our church needs,” he said, adding that he appreciates that the convention is supportive of Image Church’s vision.

He wants to encourage other church planters who have to work full time to provide for their families in addition to leading ministries.

“Maybe it’s for a season, but it’s where God has you and you’ve got to manage it to the best of your abilities,” Ogletree said.

Interested in church planting? Contact Doug Hixson at the SBTC.

TEXAN Correspondent
Erin Roach
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