AM23: Send Network SBTC planters sent out with encouragement, prayer

Send Network SBTC Director Julio Arriola (left podium) speaks during a commissioning service for church planters at the 2023 SBTC Annual Meeting on Tuesday. Send Network SBTC Church Plant Lead Jason Crandall is pictured standing at the right podium. SBTC PHOTO

EULESS—Julio Arriola, director of Send Network SBTC, opened the church planter commissioning ceremony at the 2023 SBTC Annual Meeting Tuesday morning (Nov. 14) with a reminder of Luke 10:2: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.”

The number of church planters, family members, and Send Network SBTC staff who joined Arriola onstage at Cross City Church for the commissioning service was hardly few, however. Dozens filled the worship center stage, representing the 36 churches planted since the beginning of the partnership between the SBTC and the North American Mission Board begun in 2022. Those churches, Arriola said, represent all corners and communities across the state: “from East Texas to West Texas, north to south, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio,” representing “different languages, different ethnicities, different cultures.”

Arriola welcomed not only planters who have worked through Send Network SBTC, but also asked other planters in attendance to come forward. “The Lord is using you. We are grateful for you,” Arriola said. Speaking to the messengers, he added, “Your faithfulness in Cooperative Program giving and [the annual Annie Armstrong Easter Offering] has made this possible.”

Arriola invited SBTC Executive Director Nathan Lorick to the stage to pray for the group.

Thanking God for His goodness in sending planters, Lorick said in his prayer that God is “bringing the world to Texas.” He prayed for God’s favor and provision for the planters, plants, and their communities, and for churches and pastors to come alongside to assist planters.”

Jason Crandall, Send Network SBTC church plant lead, also prayed for the planters, with Arriola translating in Spanish. Crandall thanked God for sending the workers to respond to the “lostness of 19 million people [in Texas] who are far” from Christ.

During his report Monday evening, Lorick reported encouraging numbers related to the convention’s recent church planting efforts. In 2022, Send Network SBTC planted 36 churches—more than double the number planted the year before. Projections indicate the number of 2023 church plants may rise to 50, the most planted in a single year since 2005, he added.

“In 2024, we are dreaming of planting more churches than we ever have in one single year,” Lorick said.

Said Arriola: “We firmly believe that our current cohort of church planters will be at the forefront of a revival within our family of churches, pioneering a transformative era of church planting and evangelism.”

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