Erlanger—Send Cincinnati is stretching across the Ohio River to include northern Kentucky, a move that one Kentucky Baptist leader hopes will lead to 20 new churches.
“We can’t start them fast enough,” said Jim Woolums, Northern Kentucky Baptist Association’s director of missions.
Woolums said he could stroll along any Main Street in his association and for every four people he met, three would not know Christ.
North American Mission Board statistics back up that assessment. At least 65 percent of Boone County residents are unreached and unchurched, while neighboring Campbell and Kenton counties are even higher at 75 and 85 percent, respectively.
“We need to have a greater sense of urgency,” Woolums said. “We need to go places we’ve never been before and do things we’ve never done before to reach people we’ve never reached before.”
For months, Woolums has worked to fast-track the association’s involvement with Send Cincinnati, one of 32 Send Cities designated by the North American Mission Board, because the region shares so much in common with Cincinnati.
“The Cincinnati airport is in Kentucky; we’re always reminding people that,” Woolums said.
The mission board’s online map of Send Cincinnati shows more than 100 communities in and around the metropolitan area as sites for new church plants. So far, about 20 churches have been created.
Woolums said five churches have launched in his association. He envisions 20 more churches planted across Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties, with four focused on reaching the region’s growing Hispanic population.
Planting new churches is paramount to the Send North America strategy.
“Jesus has commissioned us to take the gospel, and we have found one of the most effective ways to do that is planting churches,” said Send City Missionary Travis Smalley.
Estimates are that 60 to 80 percent of growth at church plants comes from people who do not attend any church body. In contrast, churches that are 10 to 15 years old gain 90 percent of their new members through transfer growth from other churches.
Smalley, pastor of Lakota Hills Baptist Church in West Chester Township, Ohio, will lead the Send Cincinnati City Vision Tour Sept. 28-29. During the tour, pastors and missions leaders will hear from church planters, learn about their vision for reaching the lost, and discover ways churches can get involved.
“This vision tour is about connecting pastors with church planters,” Smalley said.
Woolums, who also is a trustee of the Western Recorder, said he will be there.
“We have an overwhelming number of people who are disconnected from church, from Christ, (and) who are walking into eternity without Him,” Woolums said. “Now more than ever, we need to fall on our faces before God and align our hearts with His.” (KBC)