LAWTON—A former satellite location of Wichita Falls, Texas, First has made the transition from the venue of a Texas church to full-fledged Oklahoma church plant. The church, which meets in the Armed Service YMCA, 900 NW Cache Road, in Lawton, began the transition one year ago to become Lawton, Credence. As of this month, the church is now a church plant of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO).
Church Planting Pastor Brady Sharp explains, “We took the (Lawton) campus and worked with the (Texas) church to figure out a good way for them to make the transition and for us to stand up on our own. Sept. 9 was our official celebration service of standing up on our own as an Oklahoma church.”
During the period before becoming a church plant, the Texas satellite faced a cultural disconnect in Lawton. “The communities of Lawton and Wichita Falls are distinct,” Sharp said, “and it was a mismatch from the start. I can understand why it didn’t work, and I can see how the local pastors were not enthusiastic about it. We could tell the venue was not going to be a success, and yet we believed there was still a great need here.”
Wichita, First leaders determined the best course of action would be to let the church stand on its own as an indigenous Oklahoma church. They tasked Sharp, one of their campus pastors with moving his family to Lawton and focusing entirely on forming the church location into an Oklahoma church plant. Sharp began the task in March, 2017.
Sharp recalls the status when he first arrived. “When I first got here we were the recipients of somewhat of a chilly relationship,” he said. “I think it was due to some old wounds that were here (from previous leadership of the campus location). However, once I got a chance to meet the pastors—and I think they understood our hearts to reach the folks in Lawton who weren’t being reached by churches—the relationships became very warm and we have built several good friendships here with local pastors.”
Troy Taylor, director of missions in Comanche-Cotton Association, said he believes there is great potential for Lawton, Credence.
“It has been a blessing getting to know Brady Sharp,” Taylor said. “I see Christ Jesus in him and his genuine desire to be obedient to what the Lord has called them to do. This church plant will impact the Kingdom work in our area and beyond. I pray for God to bless this family of believers and for the name Jesus to bring salvation and transformation to our area. I look forward to seeing what God intends to do as we stand side by side for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
BGCO Church Planting Specialist Jimmy Kinnaird expressed confidence in the new plant and in Brady and his wife Melissa as church planters in the state.
“Brady and Melissa came through our church planting assessment, training and coaching the same way all our church planters do,” Kinnaird said. “They have had a humble servant heart and have sought to mend misunderstandings and build trust within the community. I can say they are up to the task and are committed to Oklahoma.”
Sharp looks toward a long future for the plant and hopes it will lead to more churches in the Lawton area.
“Our goal from the very beginning of planting Credence was to do so for the purpose of planting more churches with the mindset of planting multiple churches that are smaller, over having one larger church. And our hope is as our Credence Communities grow in bedroom communities, they will plant outside of our church,” he said.