NEW YORK (BP) -- Easter Sundays and new school years often are chosen as "birthdays" for church plants. The North American Mission Board (@NAMB_SBC) expects to see Southern Baptists celebrate many more such birthdays in the coming years -- especially in under-reached and under-served areas.
On Easter Sunday church planter Stephen Kim (@stephenkimnyc) celebrated the public launch of Mustard Seed Church in New York City. Kim was a 3-year-old child when his family moved from South Korea to be part of an earlier church plant in the city.
The church's name encapsulates its vision. "[The mustard seed] is a seed that's not noticeable to anyone and insignificant to everyone," Kim said. "But in the process of time, God's hand germinates it, and it grows into a tree that not only reaches the lost coming into New York City but it supports missions all around the world."
The church's Easter launch came after nearly a year of weekly meetings with a core group. With a strong focus on discipleship reflecting the need he sees for theologically sound churches in the city, Kim has a long-term view of church membership, in which prospective members participate in the fellowship for a year before joining. Church planter Stephen Kim says God led him to start Mustard Seed because of the great need for theologically sound churches in the city.
During the public launch, 20 people from the church's core team officially committed to and joined the church, as Kim preached on the comparison between marriage and the relationship to Jesus and the church.
"We had a small induction ceremony at the end of the service," Kim said. "It was very special. One lady commented that she felt like she was walking down the aisle for her own wedding!"
Kim said 30 prospective members and guests also attended the public launch.
A bivocational planter, Kim also works as a substitute math teacher. Because the church doesn't need to provide a salary for him, it is able to give half its budget to the Southern Baptists' Cooperative Program and other missions opportunities.
"The lostness in New York City and the world is so immense that I think we all have to roll up our sleeves and do whatever it takes to spread the Gospel as far as we can," Kim said.Also in Ontario & metro Indy
New Baptist churches were born on Easter in other underserved North American cities as well. On Sunday 77 people attended the first preview service for Fellowship Streetsville in Mississauga, Ontario, located about a half-hour from Toronto. The metro area of Toronto has only one Canadian National Baptist church for every 167,000 people.
"We want to get a healthy expression of the church into every neighborhood we can get into," said John Worcester, the veteran church planter who has launched 20 churches throughout North America in the past 33 years. "And it is all through evangelism. Evangelism pushes everything we do."
Worcester told of a widower still grieving his wife and away from church for years who visited Fellowship Streetsville searching for hope.
"After the service he came up to me and said, 'This is really interesting material,'" said Worcester (@johnworcester). "He wants to come back next week. He wants to get together to talk with me, too, so I'll be getting together with him this week to share the Gospel on a more personal basis."
In the Midwest Indianapolis-area church planter Jeremiah Brown (@jeremiahjbrown) chose Easter to introduce Generation Church to Noblesville, Ind.
Since his move to Indiana two years ago, Brown has focused on building a core team and encouraging them to reach out to the Noblesville community. Attendance at earlier preview services was disappointing but this year nearly 60 people were in attendance for the Easter preview service -- five times the size of the plant's core group. At least one person made a decision to receive Christ as Lord.
One of the most exciting developments for Brown came when three neighbor couples showed up at the service after months of being invited to church activities. None of them were regular churchgoers and all said they'd be coming back.
To help with the church's launch, Travis Humerick from partnering Thompson Station Church in Thompson Station, Tenn., drove to Noblesville to personally support, encourage and help the new church throughout the weekend. Brown said Humerick helped clean the meeting location beforehand and greet visitors.
"We know God is getting ready to do something in Noblesville and the north Indy area," Brown said. "Something big is happening. We're just pursuing Him as deeply as possible."
Tobin Perry writes for the North American Mission Board. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress
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