MOORE—With the theme “Coloring Outside the Box,” church planters from across the state were urged to be different, to walk passionately with God and realize God is doing things they can’t see, as they gathered at Moore, First March 25-26 for the annual Church Planting Conference.
KJ Jackson told the group four years ago, he was sitting where they were, not wanting to plant a church. Yet just a few years later, he is pastor of a growing congregation, New Beginnings Community Church in Tulsa.
He said he was excited as the church started and determined their box was not going to look like anyone else’s.
“You need to take whatever crayon the creative God has placed in your hand, and apply that color all over your church,” he said.
He said in starting New Beginnings, they did a few things differently, such as writing a grant and approaching the city to let them use a closed up community center.
Speaking from Joshua 1, Jackson told the church planters they each have a Joshua call.
“God called you out of your environment and said He is going to do something different in your life,” he said. “As you go into new areas, realize God has given them to you, just as He gave the land to the Israelites.”
Jackson said the first thing God told him to do was prayerwalk.
“You have to prayerwalk it so God can say it is yours,” he declared. “Don’t stop praying and walking. That’s the way God increases your boundaries—how He tells you what’s yours.”
Jackson emphasized that God’s plans cannot be thwarted or stopped by any person.
“Those plans are not determined by funding from the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma,” he said. “You are going to face resistance, but if you know you’ve heard from the Lord and have what God put in your hand, you do it.”
Oklahoma City evangelist Mike Keahbone said we live in a time when walking with God passionately is outside the box.
“God has worked uniquely in your life to get you in the position you are in now—in the middle of the sheep He has called you to,” revealed Keahbone. “It is important that you are passionately walking with Jesus.”
Yet, he said, in the midst of all God has done, there is “an enemy amongst us.”
“It’s easy to forget what God has done when the enemy is on you,” he observed. “You don’t have to know what to do, but you’d better have your eyes on Jesus.
“If you are a born-again believer in Christ, you have seen the power of God. If God has used you to lead someone from death to life, you have experienced the power of God.”
Keahbone, referring to Jehoshaphat in II Chronicles 20, told the church planters not to be afraid, because the battle is not theirs.
“It’s God’s fight, and He’s the One Who can win.”
Joshua del Risco, Hispanic and multiethnic evangelism coordinator at the North American Mission Board, encouraged the group to take advantage of God changing the course of their lives.
First, he said, when change comes, you have to be obedient like Philip was when God changed his course to put him in the path of the Ethiopian eunuch.
“Every time God alters our plan, look for a man or woman he has for us,” he stressed. “God does not alter our lives without giving us someone to present the Gospel to.”
He said too many are not walking in the Spirit and seeking God for direction with people they come in contact with.
“If we are going to witness, it is all about obedience,” he said. “A LifeWay survey indicated 78 percent of people are willing to have a conversation with Christians about spiritual matters. When we draw near to God, it’s amazing how we have the opportunity to engage people in spiritual conversations.”
Cris Lowery, emerging generations evangelism specialist with the BGCO, gave the church planters snapshots of the young adult today. He said most young adults do not see the church as relevant for impacting the world.
Lowery listed five milestones which young adults pass through from their teenage years—completing school, leaving home, becoming financially independent, marrying and having children. He noted that less than 50 percent of women and 33 percent of men had passed through all five milestones by age 30.
“This generation is making the jump into adulthood at a slower pace,” he said.
Lowery also said two major influences on young adults as they were growing up have affected their outlook.
“They have a hyper-inflated ego, being told they were special and they could accomplish anything,” he explained. “This has created pressure on them, and now they have something called a quarter-life crisis. They feel they have to be fabulously successful by their 30s, but realize life is a lot harder than they thought.”
Lowery said, secondly, the world has always been at their fingertips.
“The Internet was there when they were born,” he noted. “Therefore, students no longer necessarily believe their professors, or that a person of authority is speaking the truth. They can find someone on the Internet who is saying the exact opposite.”
Lowery acknowledged that, with this group, relationship is imperative.
“We are not going to impact them without relationships,” he said. “We have to be open with them and focus on truth through relationships, we have to involve them in conversation and we have to respect them as thinkers.”
Bo Holland, BGCO church planting specialist, wrapped up the event by telling the church planters “when things get difficult and people don’t like what you are doing, God is doing things you can’t see,” referring to Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac when he couldn’t see the sacrificial lamb.
Holland admitted a lot of people don’t understand the role of church planters, but he said, “If God is going to make a difference in Oklahoma, He’s going to do it through us.”
He said while 80-83 percent of people in Oklahoma are not in church on any given Sunday, 85 percent of churches are plateauing or declining.
“The church is the instrument God chose, so we have to plant new churches,”Holland said.