Send Network SBTC celebrates, encourages church planters

BOERNE—“We are planting churches for an audience of One,” said Dean Inserra, pastor of City Church in Tallahassee, Fla., and one of the speakers at the Send Network SBTC church planter retreat held April 4. “Be people of defiant joy. Be joy scatterers.”

Inserra offered a message of encouragement, reminding planters of the importance of togetherness, partnership, prayer, and church support.

“Church planting is hard work—and it’s supposed to be hard. You cannot do it alone. We signed up to serve in this manner, by God’s calling, to do something that was never designed to be easy. … You are heroes at the front line, and it’s worth it.”

God has greatly blessed the efforts of Send Network SBTC, the church planting partnership between the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and the North American Mission Board, according to Julio Arriola, director of Send Network SBTC.

“This family of churches planted 90 churches in Texas. This is a great movement of God,” Arriola said. He added that out of 48 churches that were planted in 2023, more than 30 were planted by Hispanic pastors.

Planters were not only encouraged by preaching at the gathering, but by a time of prayer, praise, and worship led by Jimmy McNeal. All events were translated into Spanish by Mario Moreno, pastor of Oak Meadow Baptist Church in Austin.

The retreat also included a women’s track based on Jeremiah 17:1-8. Rivers Partin, who serves as part of the planter spouse development team for Send Network, ministered to the English-speaking women involved with church planting. She said she would like women to always depend on God.

“As they pursue doing their work for God, they should rest in God’s love for them and be rooted in God’s love for them,” she said. “All of these ladies are involved in church planting because they want to see people saved, they want to see the fruit of their ministries, and that only comes from being rooted in Christ.”

Carla Arriola, who ministered to the Spanish-speaking women who attended the retreat said, “As church planters’ helpers, we help each other, but people should not be our main refuge and support. God should be the first source of help. … As believers, we are all going to be attacked by the enemy, especially those who are planting churches. You are on the front line of attack for the enemy. It is very important that you remain rooted in the Lord and seek daily nourishment from Him so as not to defend yourselves with your own strength, but rather depend on the Lord and deal with those trials in a way that blesses others.”

Others present at the retreat included SBTC church planter catalysts Aaron Clayton, Edgar Trinidad, Cameron Whitley, and James Martínez, as well as church planter mentors including Russ Barksdale and Travis Berger. Several SBTC staff members also shared about resources their departments provide to church planters. That group included Colin Rayburn, missions mobilization associate; Dan Acharya, people groups associate; Bruno Molina, language and interfaith evangelism associate; and Jason Crandall, church plant lead for Send Network SBTC.


Clara Molina
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