A group of Arkansas Baptist church planters recently spent a few days, March 20-23, in Alpharetta, Georgia, attending Send Network Orientation.
It was the North American Mission Board’s first Send Network Orientation of 2023. Two hundred church planting missionaries from 174 different churches were in attendance. Together, they will plant in 34 states and three Canadian provinces, sharing the gospel in seven different languages.
More than 60 of the church planters who attended are working through Send Network Español to plant Hispanic churches.
The nine Arkansas Baptist church planters in attendance were:
• Daniel Armendariz – All Nations Community Church En Español, Siloam Springs
• Chris DuBose – The Oaks Church, Cave Springs
• Jeff Estes – True Hope Church, Sheridan
• Norberto Gutiérrez – Woodland Heights En Español, Conway
• Aaron Johnson – Story Church, Bentonville
• Courtney Miller – City of Refuge Church, Little Rock
• Ahmad Muqtasid – The City of Mosaic, Conway
• Robby Tingle – Living Hope Baptist Church, North Little Rock
• Manolo Vazquez – Iglesia Bautista Bíblica, Texarkana
These church planters were accompanied by Arkansas Baptist State Convention staff members NWA Lead Strategist Tim Wicker and Hispanic Church Planting Strategist Francisco Gomez.
Send Network’s Orientation welcomes church planters to the Send Network family and further equips them to fulfill their calling of church planting.
“It was really good. I’ve been to these kinds of things before, so I knew what to expect. But our planters, who are mostly younger guys, have not been a part of anything related to NAMB. It was really helpful. It was a good introduction,” Wicker said.
Wicker said the North American Mission Board made the church planters feel loved and important, like they were part of something bigger than just their own church plant.
“We’re part of a national organization that does things well and loves us and cares for us. It was really encouraging for several of our guys. It went well,” Wicker said.
Estes, who is now with his third church plant/replant, said church planters can never be trained or encouraged too much.
“It is a grind. But it’s a wonderful grind. Send Network Orientation 2023 was the best planting training event I’ve been to so far. At this point in my life, I don’t need a lot of ‘how to’ sessions. And Send Network Orientation 2023 was not. It was exactly what I needed — ‘how to be,’” Estes said. “It was about dependency on Jesus, intimacy with Jesus, and focus on Jesus and the Kingdom in our church. Way less of me and my vision and way more of Jesus and His vision for the Church.”
And not just his church. Estes said he met many other church planters from different ethnicities from across North America.
“There is nothing like connecting with other brothers and sisters and knowing we are all fighting together,” Estes said. “I want to thank our Send Network Arkansas staff and state for deciding to partner with NAMB and Send Network to provide resources like this so we can expand the Kingdom here in Sheridan with True Hope Church and beyond. Thank you, Arkansas Baptists, for giving so these events can happen.”
Johnson, who grew up in northeast Oklahoma, and his wife, who grew up in Benton, moved their family to Washington, Pennsylvania, to plant their first church in 2005. They recently moved back to Arkansas in December of 2018 pursuing what was next for their family. After much prayer, they decided God was calling us to plant our second church in Bentonville.
Their family launched Story Church in April of 2021.
Johnson said he loved the Send Network Orientation.
“It was hand downs the best conference I have ever attended,” he said. After 17 years of church planting, Johnson has attended a lot of different conferences.
A few of Johnson’s big takeaways were:
- I’m not alone and Send Network is for me. They want to see me succeed in planting a church. I left feeling so encouraged, loved and valued. There is an entire team working, dreaming, praying and checking me on. I couldn’t be more excited to partner with such an amazing network.
- I was challenged by Vance Pitman that our main goal is not to plant a church but rather to advance The Kingdom. If we will give our lives to advancing God’s Kingdom, a church will be planted. Church Planting is just the tool God has given us to advance His Kingdom.
- The most important things I can do as a church planter is read my bible and pray! (There’s a lot of things vying for my time and attention, but this is the most important thing that MUST be part of my life if I want to see a church planted in Bentonville.
In August, the Arkansas Baptist State Convention and the North American Mission Board partnered to create Send Network Arkansas. The partnership is a collaboration between NAMB and the Arkansas Baptist State Convention in assessing, training, caring for and supporting church planters.