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Bethlehem Blogs

February 8, 2017

Church Planting at Bethlehem: Updates & Action Points

Kenny Stokes

Pastor for Church Planting


I’m eager to share these recent highlights in our church planting efforts ... 

  • Last Fall, Paul Przybylowski was approved by the elders for the Jumpstart Revitalization of Word of Grace Baptist Church in South Minneapolis. The church called Paul to be their pastor, with Tyler Mykkanen (currently a Bethlehem College & Seminary student) approved as a fellow pastor/elder.
  • Likewise, the elders also approved Jonathon Woodyard, (a 2016 Bethlehem College & Seminary graduate) for the planting of Northfield Community Church in Northfield, Minnesota. The initial core group for this new church has come from the South Campus and included one of our elders, Dave Filzen. Last month, I officiated a covenant affirmation service for their 23 founding church members. The church is on track for a public launch before Easter 2017.

These churches are the first two of our 25 new churches or revitalizations for the “Fill These Cities: 25 x ’25” vision. Looking forward, I’ll tell you about three men currently finishing at our seminary: 

  • The Downtown Elders approved Adam Pohlman as our church planting resident for 2017. Last month, about 35 people attended an informational meeting in Rochester, Minnesota, to hear the vision for the new church.
  • Likewise, the North Elders approved Ryan Eagy as our church planting resident for 2017. Last month, Ryan and I spent a few days in Boise, Idaho, meeting with potential core group members and leaders of a church that will become a supporting partner church with us.
  • Brent Fischer is interning at the Heights Church in St. Paul and hopes to plant another TCTN (Treasuring Christ Together Network) church after graduation.

In addition to these developments, we are also involved in the following areas:

  • At least three other Bethlehem Seminary graduates are presently in the early stages of planting new churches: Dan Shambro in Eau Clarie (Ekklesia), Wisconsin; Michel Galeano in Miami; and Joel Aubrey in Granville, New York. 
  • One of our Bethlehem Ministry Initiatives ministry partners, Greg Mott, is being assessed next month for planting a new church in the Native American community of South Minneapolis.
  • We continue to receive inquiries from declining churches about potential revitalization through our Jumpstart program.
  • Over the last two years, I have taught three seminary church planting concentration courses, which are yielding fruit.
  • Many of the new students applying for the seminary have expressed an interest in church planting. Please pray for the admissions committee as we will soon be evaluating—and inviting—a new cohort of seminary students to begin study in Fall 2017.
  • The Treasuring Christ Together Network has grown to about 20 network churches around the country, providing ongoing vision, care, coaching, and catalyzing one another for evangelism and further church planting.

Action Points

We invite you to join our church planting vision for “25 x ’25” in three ways ... 

  1. Pray for God to give grace to us to plant churches—from Bethlehem College & Seminary, through our church planting residencies, and the TCT Network of churches.
  2. Give to the Fill These Cities: 25 x ’25 vision. Beyond that, give to support our church planting residents who raise half of their support during their residencies. 
  3. Go! Join a church plant or a Jumpstart revitalization effort. A large core group is not necessarily required to plant a new church or revitalize an old one, but it does require a core group of believers who are willing to go and make disciples.

If you have questions at all about church planting, please contact me. I would love to connect with you!

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”—Acts 1:8

Photo: First Covenant Affirmation of the Northfield Community Church, January 29, 2017