The United States is now the third largest mission field in the world. The most effective way to bring light into this darkness is by starting new churches committed to reaching people with the gospel, says Clare Jewell.
Jewell is the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches’ national church planting coordinator, appointed on March 31. He will direct the GARBC’s new National Church Planting Initiative, created by the Council of Eighteen, that will help fellowshipping churches plant new churches. National Representative John Greening says Jewell “is uniquely prepared and positioned to help lead the GARBC church-planting initiative through its initial phase. He has already invested in the process of developing this initiative, and has a solid understanding of our goals and how to reach them.”
From the association’s earliest days, GARBC churches have been committed to missions. This commitment has primarily involved planting churches, Greening says. “Regular Baptist churches sent missionaries to make disciples of all nations and start churches where the disciples would grow in the faith, do the work of the ministry, and repeat the process again and again. In large part, the growth of the fellowship was the result of church planting.”
Greening points out that over the years, the rate at which churches have been planted in the U.S. has gradually begun to diminish. Church planting “is a vital component of God’s plan for Great Commission implementation. The time is now for us to put into action a Regular Baptist church-planting strategy.” The goal is to facilitate church planting among Regular Baptist congregations to see 100 new Regular Baptist churches established by 2025.
Jewell himself heard the gospel for the first time at age 17. Having lived in rebellion against God, he was overwhelmed by the concept of His grace. “Jesus changed my life, and I’ve never recovered.”
Since that time, Jewell has focused on helping others experience the power of the gospel. While he was pastor of Lakewood Park Baptist Church in Auburn, Indiana, God provided opportunities for him to engage in church-planting partnerships in Russia, Ukraine, India, Nepal, Jamaica, and Brazil. God used those ministry opportunities and Jewell’s personal story to stir within him a desire to multiply disciples, leaders, and churches. When the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism asked him to facilitate church planting in North America, he accepted, knowing it was the best way to live out God’s calling on his life.
Jewell believes the GARBC can provide resources to help churches, local Regular Baptist fellowships, and mission agencies fulfill their mission of making disciples. The GARBC already has a financial structure in place, through Regular Baptist Builders Club, to encourage and promote church planting. Now the GARBC will also help churches and fellowships develop strategic initiatives, connect them with mission agencies and educational institutions, and work with them throughout the process.
“We want to do what we can to bring these constituencies together to help accomplish the Great Commission,” Jewell says. “The GARBC is not interested in duplicating the work of the committed agencies that have been engaged in church planting for years. Our goal is to facilitate, network, and further support the work that is already being done. Our desire is to bring resources together in a focused manner that will encourage the multiplication of churches committed to redeeming those who are lost.”
Greening adds, “The GARBC can cast a compelling vision to engage young leaders in this vital work. Essentially, we can be a hub of networking that helps facilitate a church-planting movement.”
Jewell plans on personally meeting with state leaders across the association to better understand the dynamics of their situation and determine how he and the GARBC can best help them accomplish their church-planting goals.
Jewell hopes that leaders, churches, and agencies will be empowered to reproduce and multiply—that planting churches will be not so much a GARBC initiative as an organic movement sustained by the vision and capacity of those who choose to engage in it. He also hopes to see scores of young leaders shepherding thousands of new converts in hundreds of new communities of believers across the U.S. for God’s glory. “I can give my life to that. I hope others can too.”