Las Cruces (BNM) - 60 people attended a church-planting luncheon hosted by The Baptist Convention of New Mexico’s Mission Mobilization Team at Calvary Baptist Church, Las Cruces, on Tuesday, October 23. The team invited pastors, directors of missions and other interested individuals to hear how churches could become involved in church planting.

Scott Wilson, the team’s leader, encouraged attendees to view the history of Baptist missions in New Mexico, beginning in the 1950s, through a special display located in the exhibit area of the 2018 Annual Meeting, especially to see the progress of church planting.  Modern day church planting, he said, has increased in pace over the last 8-10 years.  Since 2010, 30 churches have been planted. Of those 30 church plants, only five did not survive. 

Combining all of the church plants across the state, approximately 1,200 people attend their worship services on any given weekend. Wilson emphasized, though, that church plants are still needed in the area of in the area of deaf ministry and Millennials. 

Wilson also shared some facts about church plants. Currently, the BCNM includes seven affinity churches: two rural churches, two cowboy churches, two churches for those over 55 and one Native American church. Newly planted churches, together, have given $340,000 to the Cooperative Program. Two of those new CP-giving churches are among the top 10% of CP giving churches in the convention.

Chad Spriggs, the BCNM’s church planting catalyst for northern New Mexico, challenged those attending to “leverage who we are to the Lord and put that part of ourselves into church planting.” The questions of “What if?” and “What could be?” influence whether or not a person partners to pray with others regarding church planting issues, he explained. He encouraged those at the luncheon to examine their lives, looking to see what impact God wants them to participate in. “Maybe you want to plant, but you don't know how,” he said.  “There are resources we can share with you.  Now is the time to lean on one another, to train and equip.  Ask God, ‘What is the next step for me and for my church.’”

Dennis Garcia, the convention’s church planting catalyst for southern New Mexico, similarly encouraged luncheon attenders to pray and evaluate, asking themselves, “Where is God moving?” He explained how New Mexico has a big gap in services: people are unreached, underserved and unengaged. Lost people make up 91-93 percent of the state’s population - that is 1.7-1.9 million people without a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Right now, the convention is focusing on church plants in Sunland Park, Chaparral and Hatch - all down south. Hatch has population of 5,500; 4,500 of them are Hispanic, and 3,800 of them speak only Spanish.  One struggling church serves that area. In another area, outside Silver City, one church and one new church plant are trying to reach 25,000 people. In the North, Bernalillo, Placitas, Las Vegas and Espanola need new church plants. Beyond these focus areas, the convention is partnered with churches and associations in other parts of the state, too.

Garcia said, “Each one of us can be a point of light. We can start a Bible study.  We can reach those people that are around us.  In our own areas of church life, where should we plant?” Both catalysts agreed, “Pick a place and start praying.” They said they were “eager” to provide resources, identify areas of need, and encourage people to work together to take the Gospel to those who do not have it.

Debbie Bizzell served as a volunteer StoryTeller with the convention’s Information Services Team staff, onsite, at the 2018 BCNM Annual Meeting in Las Cruces.

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