It is an incredible thrill and humbling event to be a part of planting a new congregation of the Lord's church. Today has been a day of days, one that I will never forget. We are all exhausted but jubilant with all that happened in the past two days. We see God's hand clearly working through our efforts. So much has happened that I'm not sure I can capture it all.
Yesterday, at the suggestion of Molly Rivera and her children, we inaugurated the new congregation by naming her the, "Endless Mountains Church of Christ. We shared God's word together and praised him in song and prayer. This morning Jimmy Davis, Don Myers, Arthur Barry and his wife Sandy, my wife Lynne and I spent all day introducing ourselves to the Chamber of Commerce, news papers, and radio stations to let them know our existence and to begin the process of institutionalizing our presence in the area. We've made arrangements to place ads strategically in the local media outlets.
We are discussing a physical address with a local business and hope to know soon what that will be. By the way, the person we visited with and his sons were excited about this opportunity and plan to attend the first service on June 5th. They are open to God's word.
We do have a phone number. It is a mobile phone that will remain with the person serving as the minister in rotation until we secure a permanent evangelist. The phone number is: 570-219-3045.
We continue to ask for your prayers for the Endless Mountains Church and for the community where she serves. We ask for prayers for the city of Tunkhannock and surrounding area as we show Christ to the community. Please also pray for the man we spoke with about a physical location to meet. He has gone through some stressful times and is interested in attending and studying God's word through the congregation. He has an incredible spirit for all he's gone through recently. His name is Eric Schaefer. He has two sons, Stephan and Colin that work with him and are also seeking. All three plan to attend Bible class and worship on June 5th.
Please keep the Antioch Initiative in prayer as we continue our efforts here and are making plans to continue "Taking the nation back by taking Jesus to the Nation."
"Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Praise him all creatures here below. Praise God above ye heavenly hosts. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost."
Dave Laton, D.Min.
"Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight." (Proverbs 4:7 - ESV)
From May 12 – 14th, core leaders of the Antioch Initiative (Stan Taylor and Don Myers) will travel to Houston, TX to meet with brother Phillip Bailey (the son of brother George Bailey) and four other families regarding their recent planting of a congregation in a Houston suburb that is populated by more people than reside in Pittsburgh, PA. Phillip reports plans for the planting of a second congregation on a major thoroughfare in Houston that is expected to explode in population. Phillip and his team approached the elders of the Memorial Drive congregation in Houston seeking and receiving their blessings in going out from that congregation to launch this new work.
This meeting will be to share ideas and pray to God for ways to interface the goals of the Antioch Initiative with these visionary brethren. The Antioch Initiative had the joy entering in conversations with a very successful church planter with whom Phillip and his Houston team are now in conversation.
Apr.10, 2016 - Last night Ted Chacona and Jennifer Hicks were baptized into Christ. Some of you have been following my reports on the progress in regard to everyone making the right decision but we took care of that in Sayre at 7:00pm last night. I was able to get the folks at the Christian Church to let us use their baptistry.
God is good!
When God sends His people into the world to preach the gospel, they go.
When part of that world is Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania, God’s people come and they come from far and near.
Robin Barry, of Soldotna Alaska, has made flight reservations for all nine members of his family plus one young man who is joining this mission effort from Fairbanks, Alaska. Robin has also rented a house in Tunkhannock for the week of the campaign in early June. Efforts are now underway to find adequate transportation for this group to try to reduce some of the financial burden.
Daniel and Jenna Barry are already veterans of the Antioch Initiative campaign effort in Pennsylvania, having helped with the establishment of the Valley Cities church of Christ in Sayre last year, when they knocked doors with Jimmy Davis from Alabama and Clarence McDowell, from Tennessee, among others. This year the whole family has committed to travel from the far North to join with those who are coming from the other direction…J
God is good!
A call was received a few days ago from Bill Garrett of the congregation in Lewistown, PA. Bill has won the respect of all the core leaders of the Antioch Initiative as a wise and spiritually engaged man of God. He indicated that some brothers from the Lewistown congregation are planning to come to Tunkhannock, PA during the summer to assist with campaign follow-ups and to knock doors seeking people who may be interested in studying the Bible. Further, Bill said, "We are a small church, but we will begin supporting the Antioch Initiative with $50 per month beginning in May of this year." We consider this a tremendous step forward! A Pennsylvania congregation will begin to support a Pennsylvania church-plant with funds and boots on the ground. May God be praised!!
Stan Taylor (an elder, Elmore, AL) is spearheading the work of putting World Bible School Correspondence (WBS) before the residents of Wyoming County, PA (Tunkhannock being the county seat). One precious soul has already enrolled in the course! We are prayerful that numbers of contacts will have been developed through WBS before the summer campaigning begins in June and goes through August 2016. Publicizing WBS in Wyoming and Bradford Counties cost $200 per month, but we are excited about being able to visit WBS students face-to-face during the summer.
Roger Rives of Arab congregation in Arab, AL said last night, "The Arab church may want someone to come and make a presentation to the elders and/or church about the church planting efforts in Pennsylvania." Roger was one of the original brothers who traveled with Jimmy Davis, Terry and Winni Carlisle and myself to Kittanning, PA and onto Sayre, PA to participate in the first organizational meeting to pray and lay the groundwork for the first church plant in Valley Cities. It was during that trip that we had a 30-minute phone conference with Bill Garrett little knowing what a fraternal tie we would enjoy into the future.
Core leaders of the Antioch Initiative will meet with the elders and/or mission committee of West Side congregation in Searcy, AR on Sunday, April 17th exploring a partnership in church planting in the U.S.
Jimmy Davis, Larry Bills, Arthur & Sandy Barry have just on their way home from attending the Ohio Valley University's Annual Lectureship. Jimmy and Larry spoke at the lectureship and all assisted with an Antioch Initiative booth to seek partners in this work at the lectureship.
On Saturday, April 23rd, from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m., Elmore church of Christ (Elmore, AL) will host a Mission and Church-Planting workshop. Lunch will be provided. Please consider coming for a day of prayer, dreaming, and fellowship.
More later and God blesses.
The following is a brief sketch of upcoming efforts associated with the Antioch Initiative.
The backdrop of all theses efforts will be the continuing efforts of core leadership in the Antioch Initiative to promote church planting in the Northeast and to recruit permanent evangelists. All these efforts are scheduled to cease the day Jesus returns in His final coming.
As always, all of our readers are urged to become engaged with us in prayers, joining us in these efforts on the ground, and in financial support.
As you know, Dr. Dave Laton (deacon associated with Mission at Prattville congregation in Prattville, AL) is retiring effective May 1st to work with the Antioch Initiative. He will support himself in this work but needed $2000 per month from May through December 2016. The Elmore church ($500), Prattville church (total $500), and the Dalraida church ($1000) have committed to assist him with that $2000 need for eight months beginning May 1st.
The Moss congregation in Moss, TN called today committing $500 per month to the church planting efforts of the Antioch Initiative. As you know, there are expenses associated with a new church launch (e.g. a modest place to meet; utilities; etc.) Hence, the Moss commitment comes at a wonderful time.
Jimmy Davis (an elder of Elmore and the church treasurer) will be sending a complete financial report of all gifts and expenditures from the outset of this work through 2015 to all donors in the near future. Complete disclosure must be an ongoing feature of this work (cp. 2 Cor.8:21).
Arthur Barry, Jimmy Davis, and Larry Bills will be attending the Ohio Valley University Lectureship in April 2016 taking aim at brothers near graduation who might be interviewed as potential evangelists for Pennsylvania and/or the Northeast in general.
Bill Garrett (a brother deeply respected by the Antioch Core Leadership) is from Lewistown congregation in Lewistown, PA. Bill has agreed to be one of the faithful brothers circulating into Tunkhannock from September 2106 to do preaching and follow-up work until which time a permanent evangelist is located. Bill will be one of several the Antioch Core Leadership will be seeking to preach on a week-to-week schedule. An apartment or house would have been rented by September of 2016 providing living accommodations for visiting preachers, teachers, and evangelists. This, again, will be part of those start-up expenses for the new church plant.
Molly Rivera (the married daughter of Arthur Barry, preacher at Valley Cities' church in Sayre) lives with her husband and children about three miles from where the church will be planted in Tunkhannock, PA in June of this year. She expresses great excitement in becoming a part of the charter membership of the new church plant. She and family have been attending the congregation in Scranton, PA, but brother Davis (preacher at Scranton) agrees that it is only logical for Molly and family to attend the new church plant. God is so very good! What a joy to cooperate with regional brethren in God's universal work!
The elders of the Sycamore congregation in Cookeville, TN are planning to send a group of adult leaders and teens to Tunkhannock, PA the 3rd week of June to participate in campaign follow-ups, teaching studies, and, even, working the Arthur Barry in Sayre. Those leaders expressed excitement of being involved in a U.S. mission giving their young people the experience of seeing the church planted on American soil.
Jimmy Davis and Don Myers traveled to Sunset International Bible Institute in Lubbock, TX January 27 - 30th speaking in the SIBI chapel and meeting with thirteen (13) soon-to-be-graduates about their interest in church planting in the Northeast. Communications have been opened between those students and the elders and core leaders of the Antioch Initiative.
More later as God blesses.
As you have read, it is our prayer and intention to plant the church of the Lord Jesus in Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania in June of this year. If God permits this plant to take place, this will represent the only congregation of the Lord's church in Wyoming County Pennsylvania.
We want to explain one important feature of the strategy to plant this church. That element is that we plan to plant the church whether we have a permanent evangelist or not.
As you know, in the First Century, the Apostle Paul went into virgin territories and planted churches. He always went to Jewish synagogues in every city if one existed there. People in those synagogues had been studying the Old Testament Scriptures from childhood and were mighty in God's word. They believed in the one God, the inspiration of Old Testament Scripture, expected the appearance of the Messiah, and the establishment of an eternal kingdom. When Paul arrived in those synagogues, he affirmed all their beliefs just mentioned, but came to report the coming of the true Messiah born of the lineage of David, the good news of forgiveness of sins through His death, hope of eternal life through His resurrection, the outpouring of the Spirit, and the enthronement of the Messiah at the right hand of God on the throne of the eternal church kingdom. Those who obeyed in faith the gospel became the new church plant in that town or city.
Were those new congregations filled people who knew nothing of God and His word? As described above, among the newly saved where men who were mighty in the Old Testament Scripture who had been blessed to have Paul make the connections between the Old Testament prophecies/shadows and their New Testament fulfillments/realities. Further, an Apostle could lay his hands on people and the Holy Spirit was conferring supernatural gifts such as prophecy on whomever He willed. In that context, it is easier to see how elders could be appointed so quickly.
Yet, we do not have Apostles today who can lay their hands of people and the Spirit supernaturally confer gifts enabling people to become powerful in God's word overnight. Further, it would be rare to plant a church in the 21st Century and find people who are mighty in the Scriptures and mature in the Lord who could serve as elders and teachers of the word in new plants. (Of course, the exception to this would be congregations which plant new congregations close to home and who are unselfish in exporting some of their knowledgeable leaders to teach, shepherd, and guide the new congregation in the word of God.)
Thus, how can we seriously plan to plant a congregation in Tunkhannock, PA with or without an evangelist in June of this year. The answer is that we must employ a method that provides sound and great Bible teaching just as Paul was able to leave behind in the places he planted churches 2000 years ago.
Since we do not, generally, find men who are mighty in the word before they are converted and cannot lay hands on people expecting God's Spirit to supernaturally confer supernatural gifts, we ask, "Is there a way to find men mighty in God's word who can teach and speak those words to the new church plants and follow up on souls seeking the good news in the 21st Century?" Our answer is, "Yes."
Bill Garrett (a knowledgeable man of God in the Lewistown, PA congregation) working with Arthur Barry of Sayre, PA and Ben Wright of Kittanning, PA are planning on participating in and assisting in recruiting men who are mighty in God's word and mature in Christian character to rotate into Tunkhannock, PA each weekend to teach and preach God's word until a permanent evangelist is located.
Is that the same as finding men in the synagogues who were mighty in the word? Yes, it is! We see no difference. The point is that men mighty in God's word and mature in Christian character can take up part of the ownership in the Antioch Initiative to feed new Christians and to reach out to those who are seeking.
Frankly, for one, I believe this to have an advantage over having a permanent evangelist in at least one important way. What advantage? It spreads the fires of evangelism to every congregation from which these men of God hail. And, with God's power and blessing, who is to say what will come of that?!
The key to global evangelism is discipleship. Every member of the body must be brought to spiritual maturity in Christ and take up their assorted functions in the body of Christ. Every Christian must realize we are all missionaries.
May God bless us that the lost world will hear the gospel of grace.
We believe our strategy is sound and biblical. We have a world lost in sin. The cemeteries are filling up. The day of judgment is drawing nearer each day. We must be biblical, but adapt to fulfill the great commission of Jesus.
Jimmy Davis (elder, Elmore congregation, Elmore, AL) & Don Myers (Elmore preacher) traveled to Sunset International Bible Institute in Lubbock, TX on Wednesday (1/27) afforded the opportunity to speak in chapel on Thursday to present the vision of the Antioch Initiative to the faculty and students of the school. Following chapel, over twenty SIBI students met with them to discuss their interest in locating to the Northeast to preach Christ after graduation. The contact information of those students was collected. Antioch Initiative Core leaders will be communicating with these students as a group and/or individually to explore the role any number of them might play in church planting efforts in Pennsylvania and beyond in the future.
Truitt Adair (SIBI Director) met with Jimmy and Don to explore aspects of a partnership with the Antioch Initiative including the possible crafting of a six-month SIBI training program aimed at preparing students for domestic church-planting. Some SIBI faculty committed to join our campaign efforts in June and to be a part of the church-launching in Tunkhannock, PA, if God wills. Further, serious discussions took place regarding a package of services participating elderships overseeing church-planters would be handed by the Antioch Initiative to enhance the church-planters work and ministry, if they elect to use any or all of those services. This proposed package of benefits include: 1) Names and contact information on interested elderships willing to interview candidate evangelists following their graduation; 2) services of ASSIST--a brotherhood financial planning service insuring exploration of all legal tax advantages for preachers, retirement planning, budgeting, etc.; 3) volunteer personality and communication skills testing to show suitability based on general skill sets and personality traits; 4) a list of churches and individuals willing to consider financial support for graduates going to the field to plant churches.
Sunset has trained 4000 preachers of the gospel over the last 50 years. Trained men dedicated to preaching the gospel of grace is a crying need in the Northeast, hence, Antioch Initiative Core leaders plan to visit SIBI annually to broaden their base of acquaintance with qualified candidate evangelists.
During this trip, Jimmy and Don received a spiritual feast meeting with Darrell Price (one of 25 elders at the Green Lawn congregation in Lubbock, TX). Darrell is a deeply spiritual man of God who enriched Jimmy and Don's souls. Their congregation has recently placed a missionary in New Hampshire, but brother Price expressed sincere interest in continuing communications with the Antioch Initiative leaders. His vision is that of ours--taking Christ to a lost world beginning with the church leaderships in our own home congregations.
Jimmy Davis & Larry Bills will visit Ohio Valley University in early February to raise awareness of the church-planting vision of the Antioch Initiative in that brotherhood institution.
More later as God blesses.