NEW YORK (BP) — Ever wondered what it’s like to plant a church in a mostly Russian neighborhood in New York? Or how about in French-speaking Quebec?
Now Southern Baptist pastors have a chance to see church planting up close and personal.
The North American Mission Board is hosting “Catch the Vision” tours in four cities this fall as part of its Send North America church planting strategy.
Pastors, mission leaders and church members will have the opportunity to meet “boots-on-the-ground” church planters and hear their vision for reaching a particular people group in their part of the world.
“Catch the Vision tours are intended to be quick cultural immersions in a specific city where we need established churches to partner with church planters to start new churches,” said Shane Critser, NAMB’s church mobilization team leader. “We want people to experience the city and hear directly from church planters.”
NAMB’S Send North America strategy aims to mobilize churches and church planters for evangelistic church planting in the five regions of North America — Canada, Northeast, West, Midwest and South. In addition, NAMB will concentrate on those regions’ largest population centers. With 83 percent of the population now living in metropolitan areas, the major cities in the United States and Canada are vital mission fields for Kingdom growth and influence.
Tom Richter, a church planter in Queens, N.Y., says no passport is needed to see the world. Just a metro card. The New York City metro area encompasses 22 million people from 100-plus nations. Only 3 percent of the population in Manhattan identify themselves as evangelical, according to a study by the Values Research Institute.
On Oct. 18-19, church leaders will have the opportunity to soak up the sights, sounds and smells of the diverse mission field in Manhattan and its surrounding boroughs.
“Church leaders will get a bird’s-eye view of what we see God doing in New York City,” said Steve Allen, NAMB’s lead catalyst for the NYC Tri-State Church Planting Team. “Then we’ll hit the road and do a rolling bus tour through the city visiting its diverse neighborhoods.”
Participants will hear church planters describe the challenges and joys of serving in the nation’s largest city, with Allen noting, “We want to give churches the opportunity to hear the different ways we envision partner churches getting involved with church plants in the city.”
For churches that already have registered for Send North America, the Catch the Vision tours are a natural next step to discovering the best location for partnering in evangelistic church planting. Meanwhile, for churches that already have chosen a city in which to serve, the vision tours will offer an opportunity to meet the church planters they will be working with and see firsthand their mission field.
Churches that haven’t yet registered for Send North America also are encouraged to participate in one or more vision tours to learn more about NAMB’s church planting strategy and hear directly from church planters how vitally important partner churches are to the success of their ministries.
The Catch the Vision tours in Montréal, Aug. 15-17 and Oct. 17-19, will provide church leaders a glimpse into the least-reached city and people group in North America — a profoundly secular city despite deep Catholic roots. French Quebecois of Montréal and throughout the province of Quebec are less than 1 percent evangelical.
“Visiting the city will give them a sense of how our religious history laid the ground for our current secular reality,” said Jacques Avakian, church planter catalyst for Montréal. “We’ll also provide a good understanding of the province — its history, where we were, where we are, where we’re hoping to go.
“In addition to learning about Quebec’s culture and history, we’ll also let leaders meet church planters who are seeing God open doors left and right,” Avakian said. “We ask that they prayerfully consider even before coming here to prepare their hearts for what God’s going to show them.”
In addition to New York City and Montreal, dates have been set this fall for Vancouver, Sept. 12-14 and Oct. 17-19 and Toronto, Aug. 8-10, Sept. 5-7 and Oct. 17-19.
To register for a Catch the Vision tour, visit namb.net/send-cities and call or email the contact person for one or more of the cities. For further information, contact the North American Mission Board’s Church Mobilization Team at [email protected] or 770-410-6388.
Each Catch the Vision Tour is unique in cost and presentation. The approximate cost of the tour itself will revolve around transportation and meals while at each city. In addition, each individual will be responsible for their own transportation, lodging and meals outside of the vision tour. Pricing information is available at the www.namb.net/send-cities website.
Carol Pipes is a writer for the North American Mission Board.