Couple drawn instantly to plant church

MIAMI (BP) -- God can change hearts in a flash. In one instant a person's reality is altered -- their drive, desire, vision. When Derek and Lindsay Allen felt called to move to Miami, their family left behind everything they knew of life before.

It happened at a church planting conference the couple attended.

"We went with open minds but thought we were gaining information to help equip others," Derek Allen, who served at the time as executive pastor at Smoke Rise Baptist Church, Warrior, Ala., said. "As I was sitting through one of the sessions, I had an instantaneous call to church planting. It was as if one second I was a church administrator, and the next instant I was a church planter. I knew I could do nothing else."

There was only one problem -- how would he tell Lindsay?

At lunch she sat at a table full of church planter wives. She was the only non-church planter wife in the group. After hearing their stories, Lindsay felt God confirm that this is what they needed to do. But how would she tell Derek?

The couple met after lunch to attend the next session together. Each had something they wanted to share.

"As I am praying, asking God how I tell my wife I am now a church planter, she slid a piece of paper over to me," Allen recalled. "It read, 'I'm sold.' It was the first of 1,000 confirmations."

As the couple began to explore cities where they might plant a church, Miami was near the top of their short list.

"We contacted the North American Mission Board about church planting and the Send North America strategy," Allen said. "I was connected with mobilizer Tim Wolfe. I asked him to tell me what church planting looked like in the cities. He said it was so different in each city. He asked, 'How about Miami?'

Though Miami has been described by some as a place where church plants go to die, the Allens were not intimidated.

"That's what we wanted," he said. "We wanted a hard place. Our attitude was to lay it all out there. We flew down for a vision tour and knew it was where God wanted us."

Moving to Miami without knowing anyone, the Allens worked quickly to introduce themselves to 75,714 people. At least that is how many they contacted prior to launch Sunday.

"We had volunteers and mission teams assist us," Allen said. "They were great. They helped us put out 10,000 door hangers. We did mailings to 60,000 people. We printed business cards with our launch date and put them out everywhere."

Christ Centered Church -- C2 for short -- launched on Feb. 9 with 170 in attendance and two baptisms already on the books. C2 meets on the north campus of Florida International University. The plant has experienced at least one profession of faith each week since it launched and has just started small group meetings.

C2 has a broad support network, including Christ Fellowship in Miami and those connected with NAMB's Send North America effort. C2 has already hosted seven mission teams.

"Our first goal is to become a self-sustaining church," Allen said. "We want to reach the under-resourced and under-served areas. We want to be involved in training church planters and supporting them financially. We are already praying for a specific area and the planter who will lead there. We hope to plant a new church within a year."

Joey Wood is C2's bivocational multiplying pastor. Wood and Allen served together in Alabama. Wood and his wife Brooke had served in Great Britain, but recently returned to the United States and were exploring their next ministry step when they reconnected with Allen.

"Joey and Brooke are wonderful," Allen said. "They sacrifice without complaining. They are a huge part of our team. Joey lives to disciple people. He moved here specifically to work with us, knowing he would have to be bivocational. He got a job at a carwash right after moving to the city."

One of C2's first baptisms was Daniel, a young man who had come to faith earlier, but had never followed in believer's baptism. The connection with Daniel came through Wood who met Daniel the first day on the job for both men. Wood began to disciple him.

"Daniel was so happy when we baptized him," Allen said. "It was great. He was our first baptism in the bay."

Connect with Send North America: Miami at www.namb.net/Miami. Learn more about Christ Centered Church at [http://www.christcenteredchurch.net/]www.christcenteredchurch.net.


Joe Conway writes for the North American Mission Board. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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