Crossroads Baptist Church is the working title for a project in its very early stages that, God willing, will become a church planted in Greenfield, Massachusetts in the near(ish) future. There is already a history for this project, as it is rising out of an attempted plant that fell apart largely due to a shift in leadership in its first few months. That story may, itself, be of interest to some of you, but it will not be told in this post, and will likely only be told in part when our story necessitates it.
But first, some quick bits of information to use going forward.
Who runs this blog?
My name is Tim McLaughlin Jr. I have varying degrees of participation in a number of other blogs on tumblr, but my primary can be found here. I’m an import, having moved here from western PA as part of a different church planting team working in Boston. Through a series of growth, setbacks, and major life changes, I believe God has laid the Greenfield/Montague area on my heart and is sending me to plant there.
What is a church plant?
There are a few different ways a new church body arises. Sadly, one of the most significant over the last few centuries has been church splits - that is, a group of people within an established body, for some reason or another which may or may not be valid, feel that the only way they can properly serve God is to break away from their church and become their own body. This has caused a great deal of division and pain in the Christian faith and has, at times, greatly hindered the Church’s effectiveness in the world. Because of how common this has been through recent history, a lot of people assume it to be the case when a new church is being established.
But that is not what church planting is.
In the book of Acts, Paul, Barnabas, Silas, Mark, and others were sent (or called, depending on the case) out of their local churches to go forward and establish a new body of believers in an area that needed the gospel, with the blessing and prayerful support of the sending body. Due to the traveling nature of many of these early figures, we tend to talk about them as missionaries and only really apply their accounts to situations where we are sending a lone person or family off into some far-flung corner of the world. But it is important to note that what they actually did in each place, along with others who they met along the way who never moved, was pull together a body of believers, largely new converts, and put them on mission to establish a local church and continue spreading the gospel to everyone there. These churches were then in community with each other, sharing people and resources as needed and encouraging and praying for one another.
This is church planting. Finding a place that needs the gospel, whether it is near or far, and with the cooperation and prayer of other churches, pulling together a team on mission to spread the gospel in that place - and then to replicate that process by partnering with other teams looking to impact new places for God.
What denomination of church is this?
The churches that we are working with are part of the Southern Baptist Convention, and I am working with a NAMB (a missional arm of the SBC) coordinator to plant the church within the Baptist Convention of New England. As such, assuming they don’t reject us for some reason, the church will also be Southern Baptist. However, it is understood that the denomination itself is not the focus, but Christ is - all will be welcome.
When will the church be planted?
My wife and I are expecting to move our family to Greenfield in a couple weeks, at which point we will begin work on gathering a planting team and reaching out to the community. Technically, a church body exists anywhere there is a group of believers who are in covenant community with each other, serving under shared leadership, and consider each other their church family. As such, the church itself may well exist almost immediately, if that is God’s plan for it. To be in full communion with the SBC and to receive all the benefits of being affiliated with the other local churches we’ve been working with, as well as another church planting network I have made contact with, however, there is a period of training which they do to ensure that the pastor they are endorsing has a solid grasp on the gospel and is capable of leading well. I have been working on this process, and there is at least a year left in it. In the eyes of many, the church will not exist until this process has reached the point where we are fully recognized. I understand both lines of reasoning, and despite my preference for the former, will use whichever seems most appropriate for the context. You are welcome to use whichever you like.
I think that’s a good place to stop for now. Please drop by the ask box if there’s anything else you’d like to know, feel free to keep an eye on this site as things grow and change, and most importantly, please be in prayer for this mission and the souls of the people in and around Greenfield.