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Making Church Planting Easier AND Harder

The Jacksonville Baptist Association has a long history of networking and supporting Baptist churches in Jacksonville and surrounding regions. As our city has changed, so too have our methods for reaching the city with the gospel and for equipping the saints to engage those in our community so that God’s kingdom will continue to expand where we live.

The Expand Team of our Association focuses on helping legacy churches and church plants experience the synergy of working together for the sake of the gospel. As our Lead Missional Strategist, Bob Bumgarner has stated on many occasions, our goal in church planting is this:

“We want to make it easier to plant churches while making it harder to do so alone.”

We know that God blesses healthy, God-focused, community-engaging church plants. We also know that anyone called by God can plant a church on his own if he chooses. We just do not believe that is the healthiest strategy and based on what we have seen here in years past, it is not the best long-term model for city-reaching. So, we ask the question to those seeking to do church planting alone, “Why?”

At some point we must shift the phrase “Better Together” away from simply being a tagline, hashtag, or bumper sticker phrase to a theme we believe in and express through actions.

Over the next few months our JBA leaders will use emails, social media posts and video clips to show you how we are positioning our network to engage our city. We want to help every church experience the blessings that come through our shared values and vision – to serve, send, and support the work of reaching the city together.

This is more than a short-term fix that packs an initial punch then fades; it is a way to serve all our member churches and truly connect us. We want to be more than church names on a JBA roster – we want to be a force for gospel movement in the city so that people can know Jesus Christ personally, hear the gospel clearly, and prayerfully respond to His good news throughout Jacksonville and the surrounding communities that make-up the Greater Jacksonville area – Southside, Northside, Westside, Beaches, Mandarin, Avondale, and Springfield as well as Clay, St. Johns, and Nassau counties and beyond.

The Expand Team continues to move forward, building on the rich JBA legacy of serving pastors and churches. We want to help churches discover planters within their memberships. We want to equip legacy churches of all sizes to be sending and supporting churches. We want to bridge the gap between planting, replanting, revitalization, equipping, and engaging.

We don’t want to sit back and ponder what could be; we want to be true boots on the ground, serving local pastors, planters, and churches. That way we can be sure that over the next few years the number of healthy churches and new church plants and planters increase within our city.

Though it sounds cliché, it is true – we are better together. For any pastor or planter interested in knowing more, feel free to contact me at Oh, that’s right, my role as the Expand Team Champion is to help every church within our network in the areas mentioned above, but I also serve as a pastor of one of our local churches. I know our local church cannot reach Jacksonville on our own. You know that, too. So, let’s do this together.

Church Planting Champion

David Tarkington