Church Planters

Spiritual Change Can Start at Home

city lights of Salt Lake City

Seven years ago, Adam and Paige Madden moved to the Salt Lake City metro after growing up and serving churches in the Midwest. It was a definite change in scenery. While the mountains of Utah are beautiful, the dismal spiritual landscape is where these North American Mission Board church planters are hoping to see change.

Much of the area is steeped in Mormonism, and less than 3% of the population of northern Utah claims to believe the gospel. The Maddens are part of a church-planting effort called Christ Fellowship, and as the executive director of the Golden Spike Baptist Network, Adam is seeking to see more churches planted.

In church planting, changes don’t happen quickly, but the same isn’t true of the Maddens’ family life.

“A couple years ago, our family experienced a pretty significant transition. We went from a family of 7 to 11 in 1 year,” Paige said.

Share Who You Are by What You Share

sharing over coffee

When people ask you to share a little about yourself, are you inclined to begin by describing the different hats you wear: mentor, mother, teacher, or the like? Some titles indicate relationships we have formed, while others describe a status. For Ross and Shirley Mackin, sharing who they are means living out their Christian faith in their relationships. The Mackins, International Mission Board church planters in Thailand, are active in sharing who they are by what they share with the people around them.

On one occasion, the couple went to see a woman named Rose* at her chicken and rice stand on the main road where Ross had once distributed tracts. But Rose was not there. She had pointed out to Ross the direction where she lived, so Ross and Shirley decided to drive that way, hoping they might spot Rose outside her house. As the couple were driving, they saw Rose in her garden. God had led them to her, and they were able to follow up with some good conversations.

To Refugees, with Love

refugee children registering for school

It looked like a normal apartment complex in the western part of Las Vegas, Nevada. Vickie McDaniel and her husband, Eric, went to check it out, but they weren’t interested in the actual facilities . . . just the occupants—refugees.

It was just supposed to be a time of prayerwalking and asking God’s love to shine. But God had bigger plans! He asked the North American Mission Board church planters to move to this complex and let the refugees experience His love firsthand.

“We prayed daily, spent time in His Word, and allowed the Holy Spirit to show us where God is at work in our community,” Vickie McDaniel explained. “God spoke to Eric and I. He wanted us to move so as to be more accessible. . . . This allowed us to meet, help, love, and build relationships.”

No Longer Alone

“Our work is all about building relationships,” Kandi Ostertag said. She, husband Matt, and children Kaitlyn and Mckenzie have served in Guadalajara, Mexico, for 10 years. They lead a team of International Mission Board (IMB) church planting missionaries in the Bajío (central highlands of Mexico). They also encourage and help Mexican church planters as needed.

The Bajío covers a large area. As a result, many house/simple churches planted by the IMB and national partners over the last several years feel alone. Kandi Ostertag said the church plants often feel like “the ugly duckling and different from everyone else.” Since they differ so much from traditional churches, the house/simple churches’ sense of isolation can grow intense.         

To help overcome such feelings, the Ostertags host retreats and other events for these churches. Those activities allow church members to “get away from everything and have time with the Lord.” They also foster prayer support, encouragement, and friendships.

Missionary Spotlight Update: Ryan and Seane’ Rice

Ryan and Seane’ Rice continue to minister and see God doing great things through Connect Church of Algiers in New Orleans. Their church is ethnically diverse and they reach out to help many on the fringes of society.

Oak Park Baptist Church, a sister church that had served the community for more than 60 years, fell on some difficult times with declining membership and problems reaching out to the community. The leaders of Connect Church and Oak Park began to talk about the possibility of merging the 2 churches. As the leaders of both congregations talked, they felt the Holy Spirit leading them to come together to better serve their community.

Become a Church Plant Supporter

Planting a new church can be stressful, rewarding, lonely, exhilarating, and exhausting all at once. This is why the North American Mission Board (NAMB) is constantly looking for supporting churches to partner with church planters by praying for them, participating in their work, and providing for their needs. You can help!

Talk to your missions group about supporting a church plant. Here is what your group can do:

Connecting New Orleans with Jesus

Mardi Gras, great food, and the Saints equal New Orleans. It is one big city made up of unique and very diverse neighborhoods. It’s a city where only 11.6% of the population is evangelical Christian, said Ryan Rice, lead pastor of Connect Church of Algiers.

Rice, a church planter, spent his childhood in the Algiers neighborhood and in January 2009, returned to the neighborhood with his wife, Seane’. Here they are raising their 4 children: Ryan Jr., Brayden, Reagan, and Bailey. Reaching the residents and meeting their needs has required a “tailored approach.” The vision has been to find ways to proclaim a message of hope, healing, and restoration through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

It began with family-centered outreaches such as movie nights, meeting at coffee shops, Easter events, and family nights at the park. Over time, trust has been built, allowing the Rices to work through the layers of beliefs that people have regarding what it means to know Jesus.

From College Campus to Church Planters

Brian Frye, collegiate ministries missionary

Seventeen years ago, Brian and Heidi Frye were married, after meeting in college through the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at Oklahoma State University. After earning their degrees from Oklahoma State, they moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where Heidi earned a Masters of Art in Christian Education (Women’s Ministry Focus), and Brian earned a M.Div. in Theology and Ph.D. in Evangelism and Church Growth.

In December 2006, Brian and Heidi, with their 3 sons, moved to Toledo, Ohio, to start collegiate ministries at Bowling Green State University and the University of Toledo. Two years later, they moved to Delaware, Ohio, where they still reside and are actively engaged in Lifepoint Church. “Our family’s favorite verse, and core verse, is Colossians 3:2, ‘Set your minds on things above and not on earthly things.’ As a family, we seek to live in such a way that we live, love and show the gospel in order that we can see others come to know Christ and spend eternity with Him,” shares Brian.

Missionary Spotlight Update: Brian and Heidi Frye

Because there are so few activities targeting children of collegiate church planters, they are immersed in church-planting events alongside their parents. “Children spend far more time learning the gospel and seeing it work in the lives of college students who come to their homes, teach them on Sunday mornings, and who babysit as their parents lead, teach, disciple, and mentor,” explained Brian Frye, collegiate evangelism strategist in Ohio. The end result is a life-changing experience for them. “It is very normal for children of collegiate church planters to say, ‘I want to plant collegiate churches when I grow up.’”

Ministry/Witnessing Tools

Below are examples of ways Frye and his wife, Heidi, successfully plant collegiate churches in Ohio:

Missions Field of Many Languages for California Missionary

In his missions field, California missionary Howard Burkhart is often surrounded by people whose language he can’t always understand. That one daunting fact hasn’t stopped him from founding churches among 21 different language groups for the past 3 decades.

In 1984, Burkhart signed on with the North American Mission Board, then called the Home Mission Board, as the state missionary for Deaf people. His wife, a high school teacher for Deaf students in Southern California, taught him sign language. For 16 years, Burkhart worked with hearing-impaired people, all the while learning.

“Deaf people don’t expect everyone to learn their language,” he said. “They do expect to be treated as peers and as equals.”

Further, Burkhart said, hearing-impaired individuals have just as much right to pursue God’s call in their lives as anyone else.

“It has been extremely rewarding to have helped start several Deaf churches and trained Deaf pastors and leaders,” he said. “To see them fulfill God’s calling in their life and to see the impact they have made has been rewarding and fulfilling.”

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