ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) -- Dean Sisk is bringing four men to Georgia in July from Belle Aire Baptist Church hoping they gain new vision and new connections for expanding their reach.
"We came to a conclusion that our primary focus in missions needed to be on planting churches," said Sisk, who has led the Tennessee congregation in assisting a half-dozen church starts across North America.
Belle Aire began seeking out ways to engage its people in reaching out locally and globally a number of years ago. This led the Murfreesboro church into sponsoring new churches and sending out its people to start new works.
"I grew up in a generation whose concept of missions was giving and praying," Sisk said. "The personalized concept of missions has caught on and we've had hundreds of people go on dozens of mission trips.
"But we also want to be strategic in sending people and resources long-term to the places with the greatest needs," the pastor said.
Sisk and the other Belle Aire leaders will join hundreds of leaders in an effort to refine their strategy for the difficult, heavily populated areas of the continent.
This could mean sending members or it could mean supporting a missionary already working in a critical area.
"There are very few of us who are truly original thinkers, and often a mission strategy will be the result of putting together bits and pieces of lots of conversations," Sisk said, noting what he sees as a key need to interact with leaders and planters. "I think the relationships are a big part of what makes the mission effort work."
And relationships are a key ingredient to the Send North America Conference July 30-31.
Designed to draw leaders interested in partnering to reach North America, the North American Mission Board's Send North America Conference at First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., will feature leading practitioners in church planting and other key ministry areas.
Send North America is NAMB's strategy to mobilize Southern Baptists to share Christ and start churches in 29 major cities and elsewhere throughout North America.
The Send North America Conference will provide a new focus for leaders who have attended the Church Planting Missionary Forum and Summer State Leadership Meeting in the past, and will engage a broader range of lay leaders.
"We hope this gathering will inspire and inform leaders who are seeking to plant healthy, evangelistic Southern Baptist churches," said Aaron Coe, NAMB's vice president of mobilization and equipping. "When you can get key people under one roof for a few days praying, learning and networking together, God can work in some pretty big ways. And not just for church planters but for anyone who wants to plug into this strategy."
Among the keynote speakers at the conference: David Platt, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills, Birmingham, Ala.; Vance Pitman, pastor of Hope Baptist Church, Las Vegas; Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church, Woodstock; Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research; Louis Giglio, pastor of Passion City Church, Atlanta; Matt Redman, Dove Award-winning songwriter and worship leader; and Kevin Ezell, president of NAMB.
A schedule of workshops will include breakout sessions on church planting, evangelism, leadership, effective partnerships and role-specific training.
"This year's conference will also seek to involve people from all walks of SBC life, including pastors, churches, church planters, missionaries and denominational leaders," Coe said. "If a church is thinking about planting a church or has already committed to doing so, this conference will provide the next steps in the church planting process."
The Send North America Conference is the first in a series of gatherings planned for 2012-13 to train, equip and involve Southern Baptists in the Send North America church planting strategy.
For more information, visit namb.net/SNAconference
Adam Miller is a writer for the North American Mission Board.