This year has not been what any of us expected. Who knew that our greatest resources might be masks, gloves and hand sanitizer? The local church has been drop-kicked into the technological world of 2020, whether it was ready or not. This has caused most to rethink their ministry models and interaction paths with their church members and their communities.
Church planting has been no different in that planters have huge challenges to face. Most Southern Baptists of Texas Convention church plants meet for worship in rented facilities, such as schools, YMCAs and other public buildings. When COVID-19 hit, most church plants were told they could no longer use those facilities and had to pivot to find new places to meet. So, on top of restrictions, having to wear masks and limited numbers allowed in a room, church planters have prayerfully sought the Lord’s guidance to find new meeting locations. Church planters are very resourceful and creative by nature, but this has been a challenging time.
Church plants scheduled to launch during this weird time have had to ask some hard questions:
- Do we continue on the path to launch this church?
- Do we adjust our schedule?
- Do we put this church plant on pause for now and revisit it later?
As there have been no cookie-cutter answers for how churches regather, there are no simple answers to these questions either. Thankfully, God is not surprised by COVID-19, the shutdown/slowdown or navigating the new normal.
We are excited to see many SBTC church planters continue on the path toward launching their churches even in this challenging time. Currey Creek Church in Boerne is sponsoring a new church plant, The Bridge Fellowship, Boerne, with Jared Patrick as the planter. While the process has been difficult, Jared has not stopped moving forward, trusting the Lord to provide all they need to plant.
Moises Molina and Manny Martinez both live in the Rio Grande Valley and planted their churches in the last couple of years. The Valley has been hit very hard by the virus as well as by a hurricane and flooding. In the midst of these challenges, both of these SBTC church plants kept their focus on loving and serving their communities. They have handed out food and necessary items to those who lost their jobs as well as to those who suffered storm damage. Although it would be easy to give up and give in, they have pressed forward to share the gospel with hundreds of people in need.
What does this mean for churches planting churches as we move forward in these changing times?
God is not surprised by our current circumstances. In the midst of our confusion, our lack of reliable information and cultural turmoil it is easy to become discouraged. What we cannot lose sight of is that God is not surprised or confused by our current situation. God is still in charge, on the throne and standing ready to move forward for the glory of his kingdom. People still need Jesus. Churches still need to be planted. Disciples still need to be made. Missionaries still need to be sent out and supported. And territory still needs to be conquered for the sake of Christ’s name.
God still has a plan. His plans have not been taken off course, nor are they in need of adjustment because of a virus or political unrest in our country. God is still as focused today as he was before. It is still all about the cross of Christ and the message of salvation for the world.
Now is the time for pressing forward. As some may be waiting for things to go back to “normal,” normal as we have known it may never return and we have a huge opportunity to press forward into what God has ordained for our lives, our churches and his kingdom.
There is no better time to be generous as a church. No better time to raise up and send out church planters for the fields that are white unto harvest. No better time to reach out to neighbors, friends and co-workers who may be hurting, struggling and confused. The church has been given the opportunity to do something in this time to bring the hope of glory to those in need.
Now is the time to be faithful. One of the beauties of being a part of the SBTC and SBC family is that we represent over 2,600 churches in Texas and 47,000 churches nationwide that work together to stand in the gap for the gospel. Even in the midst of a downturned economy, cultural unrest and uncertain futures, we are still working together to do the work of the kingdom! We are still planting churches; we are still educating seminary students; we are still sending missionaries nationally and abroad; we are still responding to natural disasters.
We do that because the Cooperative Program allows us to do more together than we can do apart. The genius of this cooperative effort is that we’re able to take the gospel to millions because of the faithfulness of a few.
- So don’t lose heart.
- Don’t be discouraged.
- Don’t be confused.
God is still moving and working in Texas! His plans have not been thwarted by COVID-19 or an unexpected pause in our country. God is able to do more than we could ever ask or imagine. We must lean in, work together and see what God can do that is beyond our greatest hopes or dreams!