Every year, new Texas Baptists churches are started to reach out to their communities and shine God’s love and light. These new churches are created to meet Texas’ rapidly growing population and increased diversity.
“Our population is continuing to grow, and we need more churches for that new population. This is not to replace churches, this is in addition to the churches that we have,” Tom Howe, associate director of Missions, explained. “Our population is also changing. We’re getting more and more diversity from people coming from all over the world. So some of these churches are to meet the needs of people that have come from different parts of the world.”
These new churches are started by local churches who are passionate about ministering to changing communities across Texas. The Texas Baptists Church Starting Team works alongside these new churches and associations to provide resources and encouragement.
“Churches start churches and we assist them. Our process is built on church sponsorship and our partnership with associations and churches,” Howe explained.
There are 334 church starts working with Texas Baptists currently, with new churches being added monthly. Through their partnership with Texas Baptists, these church starts, and their planters, are given access to training, mentorship, counseling resources, discipleship curriculum and more.
Six church starting strategists work with new churches as they begin their journey. Clay Jacobson, the service area 4 church starting strategist, explained that his job is to come alongside people interested in starting a church and support them throughout the process. This includes discerning their call in ministry and connecting them with the resources Texas Baptists has to offer.
Jacobson explained that though church starts may have small beginnings, they make a huge difference in the Kingdom work that is being done across Texas.
“These are future churches that are going to invest in and support the work that Texas Baptists do. These are future leaders of the convention. I see a lot of our future in these planters,” Jacobson said.
One of the church starts that Jacobson has connected with is Trailview Church in Crowley. Led by Pastor Derek Kimes, the church strives to reach people in the far south suburbs of Fort Worth. This includes towns such as Burleson, Crowley and Joshua.
Kimes explained that the area has seen massive amounts of growth in the past few years. More churches need to be planted to keep up with the growing population. Trailview seeks to engage young singles, who make up 18% of the local population, and those with no religious affiliation, who make up 54% of the local population.
“A lot of people wonder why we need church planting in Texas, and especially in Dallas-Fort Worth, which many people view as the “belt buckle” of the Bible belt. But with the amount of growth we’re seeing, Texas is supposed to double by 2050 in population,” Jacobson explained. “We’re not able to keep up with this growth with just our established churches. So, church plants are one of the most effective ways to reach people and keep up with the growth in the metroplex.”
Kimes, who has lived in Burleson for over 18 years, noticed the growing need for new churches in his community. He reached out to Stonegate Church in Midlothian, where Pastor Rodney Hobbs invited Kimes to partner with Stonegate as they began Trailview Church.
The church planting process began in July 2019, when Kimes gathered 16 fellow mature believers who he believed had potential to be leaders in the church. The group met together weekly for training in ministry and praying together. A monthly worship gathering also started for people in the community interested in joining the church.
In March 2020, Kimes planned to split the original group of 16 into four smaller groups who would lead weekly gatherings in their homes on weeknights. However, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lock-down that followed prevented them from gathering. Instead, the groups began meeting virtually. Despite never meeting
together in person, the four groups have grown to a total of 110 people, including adults and children. Weekly worship services were also held virtually on Sunday mornings.
Though the growth was exciting, it led to an interesting dilemma for Kimes and other Trailview leaders. The congregation had never actually gathered together. Most of them had never even been in the same room together.
“Trailview has grown as a church plant in COVID-19, but our people have never met each other. They’re in these four virtual home groups, but they’ve never gathered together. And that does some weird things to the culture of the church. We’ve had to spend a lot of time on our Sunday virtual gatherings to press in deeper the shared aspects of who we are,” Kimes explained.
Trailview was able to celebrate their first official in-person worship service on September 13. They met at a local church in Crowley and were also able to offer children’s programs. Kimes looks forward to the continuing growth of the church as they grow stronger in their faith together.
Down south in Conroe, another church start has also adapted their ministry to better reach their community during COVID-19. The Conroe Hispanic Baptist Church was started in 2017 by Under Over Fellowship. Under Over Fellowship Pastor Jerry Vineyard desired to plant a Hispanic church in Conroe for years. The city’s population is roughly 30% Hispanic, and the number continues to increase each year.
Vineyard found a church planting partner in Isaias Martinez, who arrived in Conroe a week after Hurricane Harvey devastated the city. Under Over already had a strong outreach ministry aimed at helping those in need, but with the hurricane the church was overwhelmed with requests. Martinez started Conroe Hispanic Baptist Church, and the newly started church quickly began assisting Under Over with meeting the needs of the hurting community.
“Many people came to the church asking for help. And we made a lot of contacts with Hispanic families,” Martinez explained.
Despite these connections, the first year of the church was a struggle, with 20-25 people attending the weekly services. Still, Martinez persevered and continued serving the community. The church has seen steady growth since then, but the COVID-19 crisis has seen an explosion of ministry for the church.
The church is now distributing 13,000-18,000 pounds of food a week in partnership with Under Over through a door-to-door ministry. Jair Campos, a former church starter for Texas Baptists, has helped create a map of the Hispanic communities in Conroe. This helps the church see where they have distributed food and shared the Gospel and where they have not.
“The food is the key to open the door of the houses of these families. We tell them we do it because Jesus Christ loves you and He sent us here to meet your needs. That allows us to start a conversation, and if the families allow us, we share the Gospel,” Campos explained.
The church has reached almost the entire Conroe Hispanic community during the pandemic, and Martinez estimates that over 1,000 houses have been visited, and many houses have been visited multiple times. Over 250 people have accepted Christ because of the door-to-door ministry that is being conducted.
Trailview Church and Conroe Hispanic Baptist Church are just two of the hundreds of Texas Baptists church starts that are reaching out to their communities in unique ways.
To learn more about church starting, go to: txb.org/churchstarting.