TGC Profiles Summit Church's Incredible Sending Capacity

This was originally posted at SBC Voices.
If you want to get fired up about how a local church can develop a culture of sending its members on mission, go read the Gospel Coalition's profile of Summit Church. Titled How One Baptist Church Has Seven Times More Missionaries Than Anyone Else, Sarah Zylstra details the history of Summit: From a church plant, to quickly growing, to plateaued & declining, and then to revitalization and exponential growth, the focus isn't on the numbers attending the church but the pipeline of leaders and workers going out to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. In the 17 years since the church called J.D. Greear as senior pastor, the church has been on an amazing journey.

Some of the highlights:

  • Middle school students encouraged to do a short-term, domestic mission trip with their families.

  • Early high school students encouraged to go on a mission trip "somewhere in the Americas".

  • About 10% of their high school seniors will spend 3 weeks living overseas with missionaries.

  • College students asked to give one full summer to missions.

  • Summit has planted 40 churches in the U.S. and over 200 overseas whose combined attendance (10,171) now eclipses Summit's own attendance (9,973).

  • The number of IMB missionaries serving from Summit is 7 times higher than the next-highest SBC church.

  • Summit spends 17% of its budget on missions.

  • Every month they commission the next group being sent. Every month.

  • Services end with pastors giving the charge: "Summit, You are sent."

Even reading about this culture that's been intentionally developed gets my mind thinking about how our church can be more involved, orienting our church and members toward a mindset and lifestyle like this. Summit's sending pastor, Todd Unzicker, is quoted throughout the piece:
'About 48 percent of our people doing local outreach ministry have been on a one-week international trip,' Unzicker said. 'The people who tithe the most, who are involved in small groups, who are involved in their local community—it all came back to one thing. They’d been on a short-term trip.'

Unzicker and  J.D. Greear work together weekly to make sure at least one church planter or missionary is highlighted in Summit's service. J.D. served himself with the IMB before becoming Summit's pastor, and says he never felt called off of the mission field, just to a different role:
'When God directed me to pastor this church, he never relinquished my call to the mission field,' Greear said. 'He showed me I was supposed to reach the nations by mobilizing the American church.'

Make sure to head over to The Gospel Coalition's website and read about the work that God's doing in the Raleigh/Durham area and across the world through Summit.

Felix Cabrera to Be Nominated for SBC Second Vice President

This article was originally posted at SBC Voices.
Felix Cabrera, Pastor of Iglesia Bautista Central in Oklahoma City, will be nominated for SBC Second Vice President. The initial announcement came Friday afternoon through Baptist Press. Pastor Ed Litton (Redemption Church, Mobile, Alabama) will nominate Cabrera at the Annual Meeting in Dallas, June 12-13.
Cabrera's list of accomplishments and service are impressive. You can see all the details in the BP article, but I wanted to pull a few highlights here. Iglesia Bautista Central was planted in 2015 and has grown to over 200 in weekly attendance. They've been recognized twice for their high Cooperative Program giving and also for per capita baptisms. IBC is  active in several other areas of missions in addition to their CP gifts: church planting, Baptist Global Response, and their local association among others. He's served on the SBC's Hispanic Leaders Council, ERLC's Leadership Council, is co-founder of the Hispanic Baptist Pastors Alliance, and is the Founder of the RED 1:8 church planting network. When I met Felix, he may have been as excited to talk about the church planting network as any other single aspect of the work he's involved with. They've planted 35 churches, some here in the U. S., but also churches in Puerto Rico, Central America, and other areas. (The churches located in the U. S. are affiliated with the SBC, but obviously those outside the country are not eligible to participate.)
I was really excited to hear that Felix would be nominated. I started hearing his name about a year and half ago in relation to the success of his church plant and leadership among Hispanic SBC pastors. He sets an example all of us would do well to follow. Dr. A. B. Vines will be nominated for First Vice President this year. Seeing the leadership of these two men recognized and celebrated through their respective VP nominations is a day we as Southern Baptists should be grateful for.

Dr. A. B. Vines to Be Nominated for SBC First Vice President

This article was originally published at SBC Voices.
Baptist Press just reported that Dr. Johnny Hunt will nominate Dr. A. B. Vines for SBC First Vice President this summer at the Annual Meeting in Dallas. Vines is pastor of New Seasons Church in San Diego, President of the California Southern Baptist Convention,  and is a recent past president of the National African American Fellowship of the SBC. You'll see all those details and more in the BP article.

The announcement notes the extensive missions work of New Seasons Church, Cooperative Program and Great Commission Giving, "community clothing and feeding ministries, at least two church plants, missions in Africa, and a school in the Philippines." Also notable is the multi-ethnic nature of New Seasons Church, which across five campuses includes an Arabic-speaking campus and Spanish-speaking campus. But I'm just repeating what you can read for yourself at BP.

I've not met Dr. Vines personally but I've heard in the last hour from a few different friends who know Vines and have worked with him. They are thrilled to see him nominated and speak very highly of him. I'm really thankful for Dr. Vines' past leadership in various convention roles and his willingness to be nominated, as well as for Johnny Hunt's desire to nominate him as a leader who will be a blessing for Southern Baptists at this important time.