GRAPEVINE, Texas (BP) — International Mission Board missionaries returning from the mission field as part of a voluntary staff reduction could find immediate opportunities to reach ethnic people groups in one of America’s most diverse megacities — Houston.
The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s Executive Board will consider a recommendation in its November meeting to set aside $1 million to facilitate returning missionaries as church planters or church revitalizers for the convention’s Reach Houston initiative.
“Reach Houston is a SBTC plan to increase church planting and revitalization in the greater Houston area,” Executive Director Jim Richards said.
“With Houston being the most ethnically diverse city in the United States,” Richards said, “there is a need for language and cultural skills possessed by IMB personnel who have already served among the various people groups of the world.”
Richards also noted that Houston’s burgeoning population “calls for all types of churches to be planted as well as revitalization of existing churches in multi-ethnic neighborhoods by intentionally helping churches to become multi-ethnic congregations.”
Richards estimates the $1 million could support as many as 25 church planters and church revitalizers. The administrative committee of the convention’s Executive Board will present the proposal, which would be taken out of reserve funds, for approval during the board’s Nov. 11 fall meeting.
Robert Welch Jr., chairman of the administrative committee and pastor of Rock Hill Baptist Church in Brownsboro, said, “The missionaries coming off the field as a result of the IMB’s VRI [Voluntary Retirement Incentive] bring huge ministry opportunities to stateside churches and communities. While the SBC family of churches prays for those who will be in transition, we also believe that it’s important for the SBC family to consider ways they can open ministry opportunities for them.
“Houston is a very diverse city with many of the world’s people groups residing the city,” Welch said. “IMB missionaries are some of the most highly trained and highly cultured leaders that we have in the SBC. We believe that by providing these missionaries with opportunities for church planting and revitalization in Houston, we could see a ministry surge that could have transformational Kingdom impact throughout Houston.”
SBTC is currently seeking a Reach Houston coordinator to live in the city and direct church planting and revitalization efforts. During the search, former SBTC missions director Terry Coy will serve as interim coordinator.
“Although we know the adjustment for many returning missionaries could be difficult, we are excited that God is going to use this time to join some of the returning missionaries with SBTC’s focus on reaching Houston,” said Coy, who grew up in Chile as a child of Southern Baptist missionaries.
“The revitalization and church planting needs in the Houston area are great. We are asking the Lord to call the right people with the right experience to join with us in this Kingdom adventure. Look forward to great things!”