ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–A record 2,200 students will gain real-world experience in Southern Baptist church planting and evangelism this summer through the North American Mission Board’s 2008 edition of PowerPlant.
The middle-school to college-aged students represent a 29 percent increase in the number of PowerPlant participants over previous summer, reported Jonathan Wilson, a NAMB student volunteer mobilization consultant in Alpharetta, Ga.
“This year, PowerPlant is emphasizing how students can use their God-given gifts and abilities in their own spheres of influence to infiltrate the world for God,” Wilson said. “They don’t have to be called to ministry, they can go to their jobs in the marketplace and serve, realizing God has wired them for a particular profession for this very reason.”
Twenty PowerPlant projects -– all connected to newly started churches — are scheduled for 20 U.S. cities from June 7 through Aug. 1. A project may require from 60 to 200 volunteer student workers.
“Austin, Texas, is a first-year PowerPlant city and from the beginning registrations have been high,” Wilson said. “We have some great SBC churches there. We’ll have a large project there for 200 volunteers, involving between eight and 10 church plants.”
Jeremy Webb, bivocational church planting minister for Capital City Fellowship, said although the 200 PowerPlant students will benefit his ministry in north Austin, “I’m more excited about the experiences the students coming to Austin will have. It will get the kids out of their comfort zones and help them understand the difference between ‘doing’ church and ‘being’ the church -– being Jesus in the community.”
Webb, an Austin native, said his hometown not only is the capital of Texas, it’s a very young city, where the average age is only 32. With a metro population of 1.5 million, Austin also is one of the three fastest-growing areas in the United States — expected to double in 25-30 years.
“The world is coming to Austin,” Webb said, referring to the high-tech companies located there, which enhance Austin’s already diverse culture, including 48,000 University of Texas students, Asians, Indians and Hispanics.
“So it’s a no-brainer when it comes to the obvious need to plant new churches in Austin.”
The 200 PowerPlant volunteers will give Capital City Fellowship the “people power” to get out and do some things in the community that the new church is not yet able to do on its own, Webb said.
“During PowerPlant, we’ll simply serve the community by distributing cold drinks and snow cones at local events, mow lawns, do street clean-up and other services,” he said. “We just want to make ourselves available and let Austin people know that Capital City Fellowship is here to bless the community –- with no strings attached. PowerPlant will help us communicate that message.”
In addition to Austin, from June 21-27, other 2008 PowerPlant projects are set for Nashville, Phoenix and Savannah, Ga., June 7-13; Atlanta, Denver and Pittsburgh, June 14-20; Cleveland and Sioux Falls, S.D., June 21-27; Baltimore, June 28-July 4; Chicago, Greenville/Spartanburg, S.C., and San Diego, July 5-11; Buffalo, N.Y., Charleston, W.Va., and the San Francisco Bay Area, July 12-18; Cincinnati and Halifax, Nova Scotia, July 19-25; and Seattle and Ottawa, Ontario, July 26-Aug. 1.
PowerPlant is based on a Saturday-Friday schedule. On Sunday, the students attend a worship service at a local church plant and then prayer walks, go door-to-door and start preparing for the week.
Monday through Thursday mornings, the students will be taught church planting and evangelism techniques by area Southern Baptist church planting strategists.
Teaching turns into action during the afternoons, when qualified PowerPlant volunteers conduct sports camps (soccer, basketball and cheerleading), Vacation Bible Schools, backyard Bible clubs and block parties. Others will undertake servant evangelism such as bottled-water distribution, free oil changes and car window-washing. Nights will be spent in worship and sharing sessions called “The Gathering.” Parents are invited to PowerPlant’s end-of-the-week celebration.
“Our sports camps, for example, will be excellent because students will be taught by experts for those sports,” Wilson said. “But it just won’t be a time to play. Integrated into the camps will be Bible study and testimony-sharing.”
PowerPlant’s overarching goal, Wilson said, is for students to share their faith in Christ at least once during the week.
Although PowerPlant activities fill up on a first-come, first-served basis, some projects –- including those in Cincinnati, Seattle and Canada — still have openings. Costs range from $269 per person to $319 per person, depending on location. For more information or a free DVD on PowerPlant, visit www.power-plant.net. Questions can also be directed to 1-800-462-8657 (ext. 6431) or to [email protected]
Wilson said 2009 PowerPlant project cities have been announced by NAMB and include Phoenix; Savannah; Memphis and Nashville, Tenn.; Pittsburgh; Sioux Falls; Atlanta; Salt Lake City; Austin; Greenville, S.C.; Minneapolis; Indianapolis; Charleston, W.Va.; San Diego; Halifax, Nova Scotia; St. Louis; San Francisco; Cincinnati; Wichita, Kan.; Vancouver, B.C.; and Chicago.
Mickey Noah is a staff writer for the North American Mission Board.