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Church plant reaching emerging adults

During the first weekend of May, the new movie, “The Avengers,” broke opening-weekend ticket sales records. On Sunday morning, May 6, a group of believers met at the Riverside Movie Theatre in Jenks—not for a Marvel comic turned movie, but to worship the risen Savior.

Doxa Church, a Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma church plant, has been meeting at that location for more than a year and has been in existence for nearly five years. Led by Pastor Jimmy Shaw, the congregation, which hovers around 80 members, consists of predominantly young adults.

“Our average member is 24 years old,” said Shaw. “I have churches ask me all the time how they can reach young adults like we do. We did not set out to be a young church, it is just who we are.”

“Some of these younger people are confused like crazy and adrift,” said Shaw. “Many of our people were not un-churched, they were de-churched. Maybe they grew up in the church but somewhere fell out. We are helping a lot of them work through that.”

Shaw and his wife Beth, who have three young children, are often asked about the church’s name. “Doxa is the Greek word for the glory of God,” he explained.

On this particular Sunday, Shaw preached on repentance and the example of King David. Each week, the congregation takes the Lord’s Supper and has a time for worship through music and an offering.

“We started out of my house, out of my living room,” he said. “We were in an event center before moving to the movie theatre.”

“We do some things backwards in the minds of some people,” said Shaw. “We have the sermon first and the worship music at the end.”

“If our goal was to have a church of 300 or 400 young adults, we could probably do that,” said Shaw. “We are trying to ‘age up’ a little.”

Shaw said the congregation has people from every age group 50 and below, including children. Helping him expand are volunteers Andrew and Daleen Nimick. “When we made the decision to join our hearts at Doxa, it was a logical step for us,” said Andrew Nimick. “I really enjoy this age group. It has been a blessing to fellowship or hold Bible studies at our house.”

“We love the energy of the younger congregation. I also really enjoy hearing Jimmy preach,” he said. “Even before we joined Doxa, we listened to his sermons online.”

Research shows that the emerging generation of Christians has a heart for missions, and Doxa Church is no different. “I would guess we have 25 to 30 of our people going on mission this summer alone. We have a group going to Romania and Haiti for example,” he added. “Some of our people will go on mission for two weeks, some for more or less.”

Shaw and Doxa Church did not begin as a BGCO plant. “We were initially an Acts 29 church plant, but we were struggling in that,” explained Shaw. “We decided to distance from them and were solo, which is not where we wanted to be. We started an 18-month process of looking for a denomination where to belong. We came up with a list of criteria and wanted someone who believed in missions and upheld the autonomy of the local church,” he said.

“We also wanted to belong to a (denomination) that held a conservative view of the Scriptures. That left us with a few options, and we then connected with the BGCO team,” said Shaw.

Doxa Church has worked closely with the BGCO church planting office and Bo Holland, church planting specialist. “Jimmy and his ministry team are doing a fantastic work reaching the emerging adult population in Jenks and the Tulsa area,” said Holland. “Their relational approach is really resonating with young people.”

Shaw has already seen tangible benefits from the BGCO partnership. He and scores of other church planters recently took part in a two-day church planting conference sponsored by the BGCO. Shaw also is enrolled in the Ph.D. program at Golden Gate Seminary.

“We are excited to be part of this work and connected to the (BGCO),” he added.

Doxa Church is one of the many BGCO church planting partnerships that are made possible through Cooperative Program giving. For more information on BGCO church planting, visit bgco.org/ministries/church-planting.

Brian Hobbs

Author: Brian Hobbs

Brian is editor of The Baptist Messenger.

View more articles by Brian Hobbs.

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