VisionOhio, the Buckeye State Grace Brethren church planting organization, has birthed a new ministry that will coordinate the ever-growing list of regional church plants in the U.S. that utilize the GSE (gatherer-shepherd-elder) method. Vision USA is helping many regions in the United States to mobilize a regional church planting effort. The number of regions and church-planting starts increase weekly as God’s people hear the command of our Lord to “Go . . . and make disciples.” GraceConnect recently asked them to share more about this new ministry. Dr. Ron Boehm, VisionOhio senior missionary, explained:
“Why has VisionOhio gone national? What compelled them to do so?” If that is what you were asking, here are my thoughts:
1. VisonOhio got the attention of others around the country. VisionOhio was experiencing success, especially in the GSE process, and this attracted other believers to inquire.
2. There was a great need to find a different way to plant churches––one that engaged lay leaders. Shortly after 2000, local churches were challenged to plant churches (“churches plant churches” was a challenge which meant taking the initiative, but then morphed to local funding and control). Because only a few churches were strong enough to plant churches in that way of thinking, church-planting attempts diminished instead of multiplied. There was a great need to find a different way to build God’s Kingdom via church planting and Dr. Tony Webb’s GSE process fit the bill. Mobilized believers can engage the work of church planting without the use of committed mission funds. Many FGBC people are willing to step into the call to missions and fund themselves. GSE gave them a way to do it––they enter the work of missions immediately without depending on overworked professional clergy.
3. Relational regionalism was appealing and fits FGBC mindset. VisionOhio operated by the principle that “Resources follow relationships and flow toward a clear and compelling vision, especially when there is some kind of local or regional connection.” VisionOhio, a regional effort, was more than eager to share with other regional entities (sometimes districts, sometime not) what they have found helpful. Hence, VisionOhio started working with regional leaders who were more inclined to get involved with what was near and relevant to their context. This relational approach of regional church planting fit the Brethren mindset better than a corporate model, and VisionOhio picked up traction with it.
4. Dr. Tony Webb was willing to step out on faith and turn his ideas into a workable plan to plant churches. His doctoral work was followed up with intense coaching. He was submissive to the Lord of the church and that projected him into a vision larger than Ohio.
5. Bottom line: the Spirit of God, the living God, was moving across our fellowship and pressed us to BE what pleases the only One who counts––a GOING church.
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