After nearly fives years of implementation, the North American Mission Board’s strategy to reach the major cities is making a significant impact. A recent study of on-going results and benefits of the initiative in Phoenix has illustrated the gains made through the initiative.
NAMB’s Strategic Focus Cities (SFC) Initiative was launched in 1998 to provide substantial resources to Southern Baptist efforts to reach major US cities, beginning with Chicago and Phoenix in 2000. Since that year, nearly 50,000 professions of faith have been recorded, more than 3000 new SBC churches have been established, and 37,000 volunteers have served alongside NAMB missionaries and state and associational partners in the focus cities of Chicago, Phoenix, Boston, Los Vegas, Philadelphia, Seattle, Miami, and New York City.
The study of on-going results and benefits of the focus on Phoenix since 2000 illustrated the gains made in evangelism, church planting, and mission support. Such results and benefits include the following:
- At the start of SFC, only two Phoenix area SBC churches averaged 400 attendants for Sunday worship. Today, there are two churches averaging more than 1,000, several averaging more than 750, and ten others averaging in excess of 500 for worship.
- Fellowship Church At Anthem, one of those large churches, averages 1,300 worshippers each week since the SFC implementation began in 2000.
- 2003 was the best giving year in the history of the Phoenix Assoication and the first quarter of 2004 was the best quarter in its history. Mission giving through the Association is three times what it was eight years ago.
- 18 SBC Phoenix Association churches combined to give $36,000 extra each year to start new churches and another dozen have committed to giving a combined $60,000 each year to guarantee church loans for new church starts.
- Ten of the strongest churches in Phoenix are partnering to start a new church in a new planned community, and seven of the ten are less than eight years old.
- More than 40 churches in the Central Association are involved in church planting efforts, which accounts for nearly 50 percent of the churches.
Current SFC cities are Miami and New York City, with an emphasis developing in Vancouver, British Columbia for 2006. Further information can be found at http://www.namb.net/root/beonmission/sfc/citylife.asp.