ALAPHARETTA, Ga. (TEXAN) — As the cities across North America have continued to grow, Christianity has been on the decline. The United States Census Bureau recently posted that although cities only comprise about 3.5 percent of U.S. land area, the majority of the U.S. population (62.7 percent) live within them.
Along with population density comes influence, and the Send North America strategy works to come alongside pastors and church planters to provide the training and resources needed to be influencers and plant churches in these cities. One of the best ways to learn more about one of the 32 Send Cities and gain clarity on how God can use you and your church to be an influence for his Kingdom is through the Catch The Vision tours.
"We, as Southern Baptists, need to realize that the North American Mission Board is us. And we need to know what we are about," said Steve Kramm, pastor of Troutman Baptist Church in Troutman, N.C. "I am thankful for the experience to become a little bit more aware of what the North American Mission Board is doing."
Kramm, along with several other pastors, had the chance to be a part of a Catch The Vision tour in Baltimore in 2015. These three-day, two-night tours introduce pastors and church leaders to church planters and ministries within one of the 32 Send Cities to show them how God is already moving and for them to explore how they can get involved.
By going and experiencing the city in-person, pastors gain a better understanding of what it means to plant churches within an unban context and also gain a heart for the people within that context.
I was nationally aware of Baltimore and what has happened there in the past few years, but I was never broken for Baltimore. Now I find myself praying for Baltimore every day."
~ Brad Harrison, pastor, Wrightsboro Baptist Church, Wilmington, North Carolina
"I did not previously have a heart for Baltimore," said Brad Harrison, pastor of Wrightsboro Baptist Church in Wilmington, N.C. "I was nationally aware of Baltimore and what has happened there in the past few years, but I was never broken for Baltimore. Now I find myself praying for Baltimore every day. It seems somewhat of a different world than where I come from, but it is still a world that needs Jesus.
"Every church is called to fulfill the Great Commission and make disciples," said Harrison on getting involved in church planting. "There will be revival in Baltimore. It's going to happen with or without us, and the question is, are you going to be in it?"
"We need Southern Baptist Churches involved in these cities," stated Kramm. "This is the job of the church—to get outside our comfort zones and reach into the hard places. It can be really hard. I don't spend a lot of time in a downtown location; I just don't live there. We have to be on mission though. Part of that is going outside of our Jerusalem."
NAMB scholarships for the ground expenses are available for participants who have not yet partnered with a church plant or a planter in a Send City. Travel expenses to and from the Send Cities are to be arranged and covered by the attendee for all CTVs.
Watch a video and learn more about Catch The Vision tours at namb.net/ctv32.
This article appeared in the Southern Baptist Texan, the official newspaper of the Southern Baptist of Texas Convention and is used with permission from the Texan Online.