AP story on SBC church planting in the Northeast features Fall River planter, BCNE exec

Boston Church Planting’s Planter / Pastor Tom Cabral of Fall River, MA, along with the BCNE’s Jim Wideman were featured today in an Associated Press (AP) wire story about Southern Baptist Church Planting in the Northeast.

Praise God for the AP writer Jay Lindsay, and for how the name of Jesus Christ is glorified faithfully through the witness of Cabral, Wideman, and of Lyandon Warren in Vermont, and  Shaun Pillay in Connecticut.

The story has already been picked up by Fox News, Boston.com and more.  Read the entire story as it appears on Sunherald.com here.

Check out the photo spread here.

West Roxbury planter, Josh Wyatt, featured on NAMB.net

Published on NAMB.net (September 13, 2012) – click here for the original post

Charles River Church: a Focus on Discipleship

The Brown FamilySara Shelton is a writer for the North American Mission Board and covers the Northeast Region.

By Sara Shelton
North American Mission Board

When church planter Josh Wyatt first met Boston resident Sherdain, it was at her home on Washington Street. A resident of the low-income housing project that Wyatt and his team had recently decided to sponsor, Sherdain was unemployed and hardened by her struggle to make ends meet. She attended a resume building seminar hosted by Wyatt’s team in her complex with the hope that she might come away with a better chance at finding a job. What she got was so much more.

“After that seminar, we stuck with Sherdain,” Wyatt recalls. “We walked with her as she applied for jobs and tried to get back on her feet, and slowly, the walls started to come down.”

Eventually, Sherdain came to faith in Christ. Baptized by Wyatt, she now serves in leading children’s ministry events at her complex on Washington Street, hoping to lead other families to faith just as she was.

Sherdain’s is just one of the hearts in and around the Boston metro area that Wyatt and his team are reaching through Charles River Church. Started just two years ago, they have already developed a strong discipleship community, seeing 23 professions of faith since they opened their doors. This type of response is unique for a city like Boston. The majority of the population is transient, making it difficult for churches to see any sort of long-term commitment. The city boasts a large community of well-educated, young professionals, many of whom bear the weight of past hurts and hang ups in regards to the Christian faith.

“We have found that people are really frank with their beliefs and disbeliefs here,” Wyatt says. “But we love that. We love the honesty of the people in our city in regards to the Christian faith. Even when it’s negative, it’s still a starting point.”

This culture is a far cry from the Bible-saturated South where Wyatt was raised. Growing up in a suburb just outside of Atlanta, Ga., opportunities to be involved in church were abundant for Wyatt. Part of a church plant meeting in his high school, Josh’s eyes were opened to the missional nature of church planting.

“I was deeply impacted by this young church and its commitment to missions,” he recalls. “It was the first time I saw how God can use a strategic new work to really impact an entire region.”

After developing a growing burden for underserved areas like the Northeast while in college, Wyatt and his wife, Becky, were asked to be a part of a new church plant in Princeton, Mass. Seven years later, the Wyatts made the decision to step out on faith and put down roots in Boston by planting Charles River Church.

“It was God’s providence that let us serve in Princeton first. He gave us seven years of fruitful ministry and preparation. I was able to acclimate to the culture and learn the needs of the area firsthand. When Boston began growing heavy on our hearts, we knew we had to go. If we wanted to impact the region, the best place to start was the hub.”

Wyatt and his team at Charles River Church are working diligently to reach the hub of New England with the gospel of Christ. Slowly but surely, they are working to evangelize the city of Boston, encouraging members of their church to connect in discipleship wherever they may be.

“We really have this vision that the members of our church will seek out their own personal ministries and it may not be things like being a greeter or a group leader,” Wyatt explains. “Their personal ministry may be unique relationships with neighbors on their block or with the small group of people they work with in their offices. It could be a mom’s group they attend outside of work or the group of families they see every week at soccer practice. We are asking our people to commit and invest deeply in those relationships because that’s what it will take to lead the people of Boston back to Christ.”

Wyatt is encouraging the members of Charles River Church to think missionally, not just in the city of Boston but also for the entire New England area.

“We want to become a church that serves as a training ground for church planters, eventually sending out church planters and teams out all over New England. We have a vision not to build up our own little kingdom here but to see the kingdom of God built in Boston, New England, and, truly, all over the world.”

For more on Josh Wyatt and Charles River Church, visit thecharlesriverchurch.com.

Sara Shelton is a writer for the North American Mission Board and covers the Northeast Region.

Date Created: 9/13/2012 6:28:41 PM

Stoneham planter, Steve Brown, featured on NAMB.net

Published on NAMB.net (September 13, 2012) – click here for the original post

From Hurricane to Fenway Park

The Brown FamilySara Shelton is a writer for the North American Mission Board and covers the Northeast Region.

By Sara Shelton
North American Mission Board

God has a history of using a variety of means to move His followers along in His will. For Moses, it was a basket along the Nile. For Jonah, it was the belly of a whale. And for church planters Steve and Merri Brown, it was a hurricane.

Just last year the Browns were planning a weekend away from their home in Grand Prairie, Texas to a quiet vacation in Vermont. Tickets were booked and bags were packed when hurricane Irene suddenly came barreling towards the Northeast.

“The day before we were supposed to leave, the hurricane hit the East coast and derailed our entire plan,” Steve Brown recalls. He chuckles and continues, “Knowing what I know now, I realize that was the plan.”

With their destination in Vermont now in the eye of the storm, the Browns opted instead to spend the weekend in the city they were scheduled to fly into the next day: Boston.

“We didn’t want to lose our flights or our vacation so we decided to spend some time in and around Boston,” Brown says. “We hung out in the area for a few days and just really started to fall in love with the area. We had already been praying that we would be available as a family to do whatever God called us to and, in Boston, we started wondering if this was it.”

Their call was confirmed in Fenway Park. Attending a Red Sox game one night in the city, the Browns met another couple from Texas who had recently relocated to the northeast. Both Christians, the couple shared with the Browns their struggle to find a church home in the area.

“They expressed to us how hard it had been to find a church and connect with other believers. The need for the presence of a gospel-centered church is palpable in the city and, talking with this couple, Merri and I really felt like God was asking us to step up and meet that need.”

The need and culture of the Northeast is something Steve understands all too well. A native of New Jersey, he grew up attending church but never really connecting with the message being preached.

“I went to a church in a traditional, protestant kind of way. I heard all the stories and just believed I was ‘good.’ But when I got to college, I heard the gospel presented for the first time and I just realized, I’d been in church my whole life and never truly heard the gospel.”

As a student at the University of Oklahoma, Steve came to Christ. He soon met his wife Merri on a mission trip to Russia and the two were married the next year. Upon graduating college, the couple moved to Idaho where Steve was stationed while serving in the U.S. Air Force. Like many, he was deployed after September 11th.

“That environment was obviously really unique,” Steve explains. “When you’re put in a situation like that, people tend to talk more about spiritual things. It was surprising to me how many guys didn’t really know what they believed. And even more so, they never thought to go to the church to figure it out.”

It was there in the Middle East that Brown first felt a call to ministry. When his time of service was complete, Steve and his family made the decision to move back to Texas so that Steve could attend Southwestern seminary. Upon graduating in 2006, he took a position on staff at Inglewood Baptist Church.

“What I love about Inglewood is their commitment to missions. They are such a giving church and have really made missions and supporting missionaries the heartbeat of their church.”

When the Browns approached the team at Inglewood last year to tell them of their call to Boston, the staff was incredibly supportive.

“They didn’t see it as losing us; they saw it as sending us out. They are behind us 100%.”

The Browns applied for mobilization at the beginning of the year through the North American Mission Board and the Baptist Convention of New England and, just seven months later, moved their family to Stoneham, Mass., a suburb ten miles from Boston.

“We really have a heart to reach the families of the city and that’s what attracted us to Stoneham,” says Steve’s wife Merri. “There are great parks here and a zoo and a lot of things that would attract families to the area, but not one SBC church or even a strong evangelical presence to support them. That’s what we’re looking to be at our church plant, Wellspring Church.”

Though the couple is a least a year off from opening the doors of their church plant, they are spending time in preparation serving with Celebration Church, a suburban Boston church helping the Browns get connected to the people and the city.

“As we get established here in Stoneham, that church will help in supporting and sending us out to launch Wellspring Church,” Steve explains. “They want to build us up and go with us as we multiply and grow the church here.”

For now, Steve, Merri, and their kids Nathan and Cora are settling into Stoneham, acclimating to this new culture and setting to work building relationships within their community.

“The people we have met are friendly and welcoming, yet the challenge remains to encourage those we connect with to think beyond traditional religion. The need to communicate the gospel message here is great. We trust that as we go out in faith, God will respond in the hearts of the people of Stoneham.”

To follow the Brown’s journey in Boston, visit their blog at john414journey.com

Date Created: 9/13/2012 6:04:42 PM