Re-engaging for the first time in 15 months, more than 140 San Diego Southern Baptist Association pastors, church planters, and ministry leaders gathered at Bethel Baptist Church in Escondido on June 8.
Mike Carlisle, director of missions for the association, introduced a new plan to divide the 4,200 square mile county into six regions to provide a more localized contextual strategy for each region. Additionally, the association will provide communications, prayer cover, and administrative support through a new Vision San Diego website being developed.
Carlisle explained, “While Baptist associations provide support for churches, they also have a purpose of mobilizing churches for a larger outreach to the region. Mobilizing churches to work together and impact its region is much like what Nehemiah did when he mobilized families to rebuild the broken-down city wall of Jerusalem in their neighborhood.”
The new regional strategy serves two purposes – to encourage pastors and leaders and to build relationships with community and city leaders. He explained that pastors and leaders will gather each month in their regions to encourage each other with prayer, peer-to-peer learning, and a fellowship meal. The regional teams also will build relationships with community and city leaders to better serve community needs.
One goal, according to Carlisle, is to build the relational strength of the churches and leaders in the region. Another, he said, is to create a more robust outreach in each region by identifying and serving community needs such as poverty, mentoring and school support.
The combined goal he said is for every region to be a valued partner as churches and communities flourish.
Judy Carlisle, who serves as director of ministry operations and discipleship, introduced new plans to support women in leadership by partnering with Pam Neighbour, women’s ministry network coordinator for California Southern Baptist Convention, to provide opportunities for women in each region to build stronger relationships and ministry skills.
After introducing the new structure and strategy, groups from each region prayed for the impact they could make in San Diego.
The meeting concluded with a fellowship luncheon where CSBC staff members Ralph Neighbour and Jason Blankenship explained the Convention’s goal of “empowering the vision of churches.” Adam Groza from Gateway Seminary, D.A. Horton from California Baptist University, and Tom Jones from The Baptist Foundation of California, also explained how their institutions support California Southern Baptist churches.