FRESNO, Calif. (BP)–On 10-10-10 at 10 a.m., a Baptist strategy team will kick off a series of church starting events in the Bay Area to launch a California-wide initiative called, appropriately, “10-10-10.”
“We’re praying for preview services, vision tours, prayerwalks, community service and outreach events, baptism services, new church ‘baby showers’ and more,” said Linda Bergquist, California Southern Baptist Convention church planting strategist.
“We would like to see both local and national teams descend on the Bay Area that day to help make this a truly once-in-a-century church planting experience,” she added, noting Oct. 10, 2010, will never come again.
“We’re hoping that many new churches will be started, and it looks like that will really happen all over California,” Bergquist said of the 10-10-10 goal of 40 new church starts.
Hundreds of people in the Bay Area have been praying for about four years that the Lord’s words would become reality, as noted in Luke 10:2: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.”
Before harvest there’s planting. Before planting, there’s plowing. Bergquist believes prayerwalking is plowing, which is why it’s a key 10-10-10 activity.
“Prayerwalking is a missional posture because it places us in spiritual proximity to the people we’re praying to reach,” Bergquist said. Such proximity “helps us see and care more deeply.”
“Prayer, in general, is hugely important to church planting,” she added, citing Psalm 127:1: “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” She believes the same is true for all biblical ministry.
“I keep asking God that every ounce of energy we put into this project will be counted as ‘fervent, effectual prayer,'” which God’s Word promises will have results, Bergquist said.
Equating prayerwalking with spiritual warfare, Bergquist added that “it is not to be taken lightly. Prayerwalking is one way to bring light and life to the darkness.”
Akin to prayerwalks are vision tours, in which Bergquuist’s team facilitates a visit by members of churches interested in church planting to an area where a new church is needed. Vision tours also facilitate partnerships between established churches and newly planted ones. Such relationships foster synergy as the more established church aids the newer one by sending ministry and mission teams as well as through prayer and financial support, Bergquist explained.
Another facet of the 10-10-10 emphasis for reaching a community and promoting church planting is through community service and outreach events.
“We’re trying to start churches based on four models,” Bergquist note in reference to strategies that each carry a biblical name.
“The first is the ‘Antioch’ priority, which is starting strong, strategically located, reproducing churches. Second is our ‘Athens’ priority, and that’s planting churches among the least reached people groups. Third is our ‘Acts 2’ priority. That’s starting small, reproducing indigenous churches that are usually bivocationally led.
“Finally, our ‘Amos’ strategy is aimed at starting churches around ministries of justice and community service,” Bergquist said.
The Amos churches naturally are more oriented around community service than any of the others, she explained. In some community outreach and service situations, church planting is “not so much a goal as it is an outcome. The Gospel planted in people’s lives naturally produces disciples, and the natural outcome of this disciple-making is new communities of faith, or churches.”
Public baptisms also are on the docket for 10-10-10.
“Since many new churches do not meet in traditional church buildings, it’s common for them to baptize outdoors in public spaces, which further increases the public dimension of the new Christian’s testimony,” said Bergquist, who encouraged baptismal candidates “to invite their friends and family, which gives an opportunity to profess their faith in front of others who need Christ.”
Yet another activity planned for 10-10-10 is new church “baby showers.” Newly planted churches need nurturing, and church planters need others who care about the new “baby church,” Bergquist said.
“New church baby showers are family times. Yes, they are great ways to provide for the needs of new churches, but even more, they are times of prayer, encouragement and blessing,” Bergquist said. “Sometimes churches that have never been involved in church planting decide to host a baby shower. They become caught up in the joy of the new church, and from there begin finding ways to partner with new churches.”
So what motivates Bergquist and her team?
“Church planting missionaries are an odd breed,” Bergquist confessed. “We see churches in our sleep, plant churches in our dreams, and see new churches everywhere we go. It’s just how we’re wired by God.”
Norm Miller is a freelance writer based in Richmond, Va. For more information about personal or church involvement in California Baptists’ 10-10-10 initiative, e-mail Linda Bergquist at [email protected].