FLORENCE–Although the emphasis is named SEND Cincinnati, its goal of planting 77 new churches in the Queen City area by 2017 features a distinct Kentucky flavor.
That’s because, along with Ohio’s Cincinnati Area Baptist Association, Florence Baptist Church at Mt. Zion is the lead church helping sponsor the emphasis.
Florence Baptist will host a pastors luncheon May 20 that organizers hope will inspire more churches to join the initiative. The speaker will be Louisville native Aaron Coe, vice president of mobilization at the North American Mission Board.
The experienced church planter will review the SEND emphasis, which seeks to start churches in 32 metropolitan areas across North America.
Coe will also discuss the upcoming “Cast the Vision Tour.” The three-day event includes a Sept. 18 afternoon roundtable for urban church planters at Florence Baptist. Well-known pastor and bestselling author David Platt will speak that evening.
SEND Cincinnati coordinator Dennis Holmes hopes to see at least 100 pastors at the May 20 luncheon. Both it and the September events will help mobilize churches to support church planting, Holmes said.
“It’s like two audiences,” said Holmes, noting that Platt will speak at nearly all 25 regional SEND events this year.
“First, our desire at these events is to reach pastors and church leaders. These events are also attended by church planters and others who are challenged to live out their call to church planting.”
Stretching back two years to the first steering committee meeting, SEND Cincinnati has received support thus far from six Kentucky Baptist churches.
The assistance includes finances, prayers and practical support. The latter has included mission teams and a church van donated by New Friendship Baptist Church of Auburn to a new Nepali congregation in Cincinnati.
Florence Baptist’s lead pastor, Corey Abney, helped Holmes lead a breakout session on SEND Cincinnati at the 2013 national conference at Prestonwood Baptist Church near Dallas.
“I can’t say enough how much we appreciate Florence at Mt. Zion’s participation,” Holmes said.
The feeling is mutual, said Travis Kaiser, teaching pastor at the Northern Kentucky church.
“We’re already seeing God do a great work through the church plant efforts in Cincinnati,” Kaiser said. “Our church wants to be involved where God is at work.
“The longer we’re involved in partnership with church planters, the more we hear about life change. That motivates our church to be more involved in God’s kingdom work.”
In addition to Abney’s leadership, Kaiser said Florence Baptist’s involvement stems from two former staff members starting new churches as part of this emphasis.
Robert Wooten is pastor of Connection Point Church in New Richmond, Ohio; Ben Brown is an intern at a new work in nearby Covington.
Florence is supporting four other church planters in the area, including Michael Clary at Christ the King Church in Cincinnati.
Support isn’t always direct financial aid. Florence Baptist has invited church planters to its Christmas luncheon and sometimes saves fledgling congregations money by handling printing projects for them.
Members are also reaching out individually. A group of businessmen who attend Florence and work in downtown Cincinnati met with Clary recently to learn more about his church and prayer needs.
Florence Baptist maintains ties with planters in other cities, such as Philadelphia. One morning in April, a member who works for a major airline hopped a free flight to Philadelphia. After taking his spouse to lunch and encouraging his family, she returned to Kentucky that evening.
“The number one thing we’ve heard from planters is they need relational support,” Kaiser said. “Loneliness is one of their greatest struggles. When we asked one guy what we could do, he said, ‘This. I don’t have staff members to hang out with.”
Florence has helped spread this vision to others. After learning about SEND: Cincinnati, Indian Baptist Church of Bagdad voted to send $150 a month to one of the new churches.
Participating in starting churches has created an awareness at Florence Baptist that God’s kingdom extends far beyond their weekly ministries, Kaiser said.
“It’s led to where we partner with an organization in Haiti that is also about church planting,” the teaching pastor said. “A member just gave a large sum of money to buy some land in Haiti (for a church).
“These stories keep coming. It’s motivating us to push the kingdom ball further down the field.”
There is no charge for the May 20 luncheon, which runs from noon to 1:30 p.m. However, registration is required and can be done here.
Ken Walker is a longtime freelance writer for the KBC Communications Department.