What in the World Are We Doing?

Any questions?

Any questions?

Do you ever have times when you study something so much for school or you do something over and over for so long at your job that when you try to talk to someone about it you forget that they haven’t done the same? You get to a point where you just assume everyone knows what you’re talking about. In other words, you forget that everyone else lives in the real world rather than residing inside your head.

I felt that way the first few times someone tried to show me how to play guitar chords. Uh, excuse me. I know you’ve been doing this for years, but I’m new here. Could you please slow down and give me a little more detail?

I think preachers do this a lot. Or maybe just I do. But I’ve noticed that as I talk to people about planting a church in Norman, a lot of them have questions. And they’re not dumb questions; they’re perfectly reasonable questions for those who live outside of my head. Since I think that for every person who asks questions, there are more who are wondering but afraid to ask, I’m going to take some of the questions that people have asked and answer them here. If you have additional questions, feel free to contact me using the contact information provided in the right hand column.

***And as a little disclaimer, this web site is my personal blog, not an “official” site for the Norman church plant or its supporting church. Just thought you should know.***

Feel free to skip around and read only the topics that interest you.
I’ll add to and revise these answers as needed.

What is a “church plant?”
A church plant is just a fancy term for what is also called a mission. It is a new congregation, started and supported by an existing church for a time, in hopes that it too will eventually grow into a mature, self-supporting church itself. I often use the terms mission and church plant interchangeably. I’m not sure how everyone else in the world defines these terms, but that is what I mean when I use them.

Where is your church building located?
We don’t have one. We’ll probably have one at some point, but right now it looks like we’re going to start with small groups. These may meet in homes, borrowed meeting rooms, a rented building, or some combination thereof. But even if we were to rent a building to hold meetings in the beginning, it would probably be something like a storefront, instead of a traditional church building.

What is the church called?
We don’t have a name yet. We’re still in the planning stages of this ministry, and we trust that God will give us some more specific direction soon.

Aren’t there enough churches in Norman?
No! I don’t have the exact figures in front of me, but I feel pretty confident in speculating that if every Bible-believing church in Norman had their facilities filled to capacity on Sunday mornings there would still be tens of thousands of people who were not hearing the Word.

Why start more churches in Oklahoma when there are people in other countries who’ve never heard?
The sad truth is that even here in the so-called Bible Belt, there are people who haven’t heard the Gospel either. The souls of people in Sub-Saharan Africa or Southeast Asia are no less valuable than the souls of people in the Sooner Nation, but this is the mission field God has called us to now. Incidentally, a friend of mine told me about a study he’d seen that shows Norman to be the most un-evangelized community in Oklahoma. In 2000, only 22.0% of residents in Cleveland County identified as members of evangelical churches, while 43.5% claimed no religion (ARDA). We need to take the Gospel to the people who need to hear it, whether they’re in Oklahoma or Okinawa.

What kind of church is it?
We are Missionary Baptists. If you’re unfamiliar with who we are, you can find our doctrinal statement here. The church plant in Norman is a ministry of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church (PHBC) in Blanchard, Oklahoma. PHBC is a part of the Baptist Missionary Association of Oklahoma and the Baptist Missionary Association of America.

Do you think it will be a big church?
That’s really a difficult question to answer. I don’t ever want to get to a point where we’re so big that we develop a “there’s no room for you–we have everyone we need” attitude. But at the same time, we’re not trying to start a mega-church. Instead of one gigantic church in Norman, I would like to see us plant a dozen or more good-sized, healthy, biblically-sound churches in Norman.

Is church planting biblical?
Absolutely! When the early Christians fled the persecution in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1) they preached the Gospel everywhere they went (Acts 8:4). One result was that another church was started in Antioch (Acts 11:19-30). A few other examples of churches that were planted as a result were Derbe, Lystra, Philippi, Thessalonica, and Athens. And of course, Jesus started and grew the first church in Jerusalem (Matthew 4:18-22; 16:18).

How does this work?
This is one of those questions that I’ll have to come back and revise later. As I’ve said already, we’re still in the planning stages. If you want to know about strategy, we’re still working that out. I can give you a kind of general overview of things–if you’ll promise to keep in mind that things may change. So, here is the process as I understand it now.

  • Missions begins with God calling someone to do something; over the past several years, both Steve and I have felt God calling us to start a church in Norman.
  • Each team member discussed this call with his home church and obtained a letter of recommendation from the church. (March 2010)
  • With this recommendation in hand, each of us submitted an application to the BMA of Oklahoma, seeking financial and other support for this ministry. (March 2010)
  • Pleasant Hill Baptist Church formally agreed to sponsor this new church as a mission and to send us as their missionaries. This gives us church authority to go and start a new church plant. (July 2010)
  • The team members began assessments that will be used by the associations. (approx. July-September 2010)
  • Team members go for additional training. (approx. August-September 2010)
  • The relevant committees for the local, state, and national associations will consider whether or not to support Pleasant Hill in this work. (approx. September-October 2010)
  • Team members will begin assembling a core group of people to help in the ministry.
  • The core group will begin work in Norman with evangelism, discipleship, and other ministry opportunities.
  • As we make contact with people in Norman, small groups will begin meeting in various places throughout the week.
  • Eventually we will begin holding regular Sunday services in Norman.
  • Sometime later, as soon as the mission organizes into an autonomous church, that church will begin the process of sending people out to start a second church.

That is a very rough outline of what will happen. But God doesn’t always show us what lies ten steps ahead; often He shows us only the next step and expects us to trust Him in that step. At this point we feel a little like Abraham when God told him, “[…] Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee” (Genesis 12:1). God only told him the first step: getting up. He expected Abraham to trust that his destination would be revealed at the appropriate time.

I have a friend/relative/etc. living in Norman. Could they come?
Absolutely! If you live in Norman and want to be part of this church plant–or know someone else who does and would–please call or e-mail us using the contact information in the column to the right.