Leaders with Oklahoma Baptists and the North American Mission Board (NAMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention recently announced a new church planting partnership being launched to enhance church planting across Oklahoma.
During the Oklahoma Baptists’ recent Board of Directors meeting, board members officially approved the “Send Network Oklahoma,” a new church planting partnership between NAMB and Oklahoma Baptists’ state convention.
Hance Dilbeck, executive director-treasurer for Oklahoma Baptists, said, “This partnership will fully leverage our Cooperative Program commitment. I believe we will continue to advance the Gospel together by planting healthy churches and do so even more efficiently.”
Dilbeck emphasized that the Send Network Oklahoma will work alongside churches and associations to find strategic opportunities to plant churches.
He said, “We are pastor-focused, church-centered and associational partnered through all of this process.” Dilbeck and NAMB announced that three Oklahomans have been selected to help lead the new network.
Pastor Doug Melton will serve as the Send Network Oklahoma director, while he maintains his current role as senior pastor of Oklahoma City, Southern Hills. Melton will serve as the primary advocate with pastors for church planting in Oklahoma, as well as help Oklahoma pastors and potential planters connect with church planting throughout the convention.
Pastor Rusty Gunn of Sand Springs, Church That Matters, will serve as the network’s church planting catalyst in the Tulsa area. Gunn will cultivate relationships, coach toward multiplication and catalyze movement with pastors and church planters. He also will shepherd potential and existing planters through Send Network Oklahoma planter pathway, including assessment, orientation, training/coaching and care. Gunn will be primarily working in the Tulsa area, and he also will work with pastors and planters throughout the convention area.
Pastor Ray Strauss of Edmond, Edmond Community was named church planting catalyst for the Oklahoma City area. Like Gunn, Strauss will cultivate relationships, coach toward multiplication, and catalyze movement with pastors and church planters, among other responsibilities. He will primarily work in the Oklahoma City area, and he also will work with pastors and planters throughout the convention area.
All three leaders—Melton, Gunn and Strauss—will continue to pastor full time in their local churches, as they take on these Send Network Oklahoma roles.
NAMB President Kevin Ezell expressed his enthusiasm and support for the effort.
“We are incredibly excited to be entering this new partnership with Oklahoma Baptists,” Ezell said. “The Send Network Oklahoma will combine all of the strengths Oklahoma Baptists are known for with the resources, training, coaching and care we have utilized nationally with hundreds of new church plants our Send Network helps launch each year. I am grateful for Hance Dilbeck’s strong leadership and for this opportunity to join arms in such an important effort.”
The Send Network Oklahoma’s stated vision is “to see a multiplying church in every community within our state.”
Alan Quigley, associate executive director with Oklahoma Baptists, said, “These multiplying churches will assist in discovering, developing and deploying church planting teams from within their congregations. Send Oklahoma desires to plant churches everywhere in our state, so that everyone has an opportunity to be a part of a local congregation.”
For more information, visit oklahomabaptists.org and click on the “Send Oklahoma” tab.