(Photo: The Christian Post)
The Southern Baptist Convention's North American Mission Board will focus part of its efforts on planting churches in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, with the aim of reaching nearly six million people.
In order to implement its plan, organizers are recruiting Southern Baptist churches to partner and commit to the vision of planting and multiplying churches over the next five years.
"We're focusing on D.C. because the Gospel is declining as D.C. grows in size and influence, so we want to provide a growing Gospel witness," Clint Clifton, city coordinator for the Send North America: D.C., told The Christian Post.
The evangelical population in D.C. is only 12 percent, according to NAMB, and currently, there are only 607 active Southern Baptist congregations in the D.C. area serving 5.8 million, which means that there is only one Southern Baptist congregation for every 9,571 people.
Clifton calls the effort an "all hands on deck" initiative and says D.C. SBC churches as well as churches from around the country have jumped in to help. In addition, state conventions and local associations are on board as well as individual Christians who are making sacrificial moves into the city to work for the progress of the Gospel.
"We're seeing unity and momentum like never before and I couldn't be more excited about what's happening," said Clifton.
So far, NAMB has also recruited the help of the leadership and congregation of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Ga., for the initiative. Under their direction, the church planting strategy will take off while they aim to recruit others along the way.
"Cross Pointe Church is leading the charge to see healthy churches planted in our nation's capital. We have committed prayer teams, short term mission teams and $30,000 per year for five years to this critical church planting initiative," Mark Maynard, missions pastor at Cross Pointe Church told The Christian Post.
In addition to planting churches throughout the city, Clifton says he is also focused on planting churches at every United States Marine Corps base in the world. Pillar D.C. is going to be planted at Quantico base in Northern Virginia. However, Pillar Churches already exist at major USMC bases throughout North Carolina and California.
"The church is being planted by Shawn Branscum, a veteran marine and Thomas Hudson," said Clifton. "These two men have rearranged their lives to plant in D.C. and are fully equipped to accomplish the task. Thanks to the generosity of Cross Pointe and other Southern Baptists, they are able to move their families into this tremendously expensive and difficult city."
Although D.C. is a city of two extremes where the poor and affluent reside, Clifton is hoping their initiative will reach everyone on the spectrum.
"The truth is, lost people don't see a need for new churches so the communities are always resistant to churches, especially churches that are clear on the gospel," said Clifton. "It's an uphill battle planting churches in a city that doesn't see a use for them. The challenges are numerous, the city is expensive, the culture is diverse but Jesus saves! His gospel is powerful and will grow wherever it's planted, even in the concrete of a city like D.C.!"