Michael Johnson joined the U.S. Army almost ten years ago. He is currently a staff sergeant in the Army Band stationed at Fort Rucker. Over the last few years while a member at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Enterprise, Michael felt a strong sense that the Lord was calling him, his wife Cheryl and their four daughters to return to the Yakima Valley near their home to plant a church that plants churches.
Just as they were making peace with this call on their lives, Travis Dunham, the missions pastor at Hillcrest was entering into a discussion with me about starting a church planting residency. Michael Johnson and Aaron Wine are the very first residents to be admitted into this pilot project which began August 1, 2013.
God’s timing is always perfect. The Johnsons will end their time in the Army as of December 31, 2013, and will move to Washington state. They have already secured a sponsor/sending church in that area and are using Skype and other methods to gather a core group for The River Church. Michael will continue his contact with the Hillcrest residency through Skype after they move.
So how do you get from Enterprise, Alabama, to the Yakima Valley, Washington? For the Johnsons, the answer is to follow after the Lord!
Here are some ways you can get involved in the exciting Alabama Baptist church planting experience:
By the end of 2013, we will have trained approximately 250 persons in the basics of church planting during this calendar year. This training is called Basic Training Journey for Church Planting. It is taught from the perspective of the planter and the core group of a new church. We will have seven such trainings across Alabama by year’s end. It is not too late for you to get into the mix. Basic Training Journey will be offered October 3-5, 2013, at South Roebuck Baptist Church in the Birmingham Association and October 17-19, 2013, at North Mobile Baptist Church in the Mobile Association. These trainings begin at noon on Thursday and continue through approximately 4:30 pm on Saturday.
We are also offering training for Churches Planting Churches from the perspective of the sending/sponsoring/partnering church. Our first such experience was recently held at Shocco Springs Conference Center. The next opportunity for you to take part in this training will be October 24-26, 2013, at First Baptist Church, Foley. This event will begin at 8 a.m. on Thursday, October 24 and will end by noon on Saturday, October 26. If your church is considering the possibility of planting a church, this training will provide you with a clear six-step process to follow.
Looking forward to serving you!
Lamar Duke, Lead Church Planting Strategist, Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions