Missionary Derek Osburn models healthy church planting
Mar 27, 2012

CLOVIS, N.M. (NAMB)—Derek Osburn never set out to be a poster child for missional church staff members. He was minding his own business as a youth minister at Central Baptist Church in Clovis, N.M., when God broadened his horizons.

The pivotal decision point for Osburn came at a New Mexico state evangelism conference where Ed Stetzer challenged the audience. Stetzer, vice president of Research and Ministry Development for LifeWay Christian Resources, is a long-time church planter and church planting advocate.

“He said you will not change your circumstances until the discomfort of staying outweighs the discomfort of leaving,” Osburn shared. “That was the turning point for me. I knew it was time to go.”

And by go Osburn thought he and his family would have to leave their home in Clovis, N.M., and start a church elsewhere. The last thing he wanted to do was hurt his church. Turns out Central Baptist had another idea.

STUDY Derek Osburn, center with red shirt, leads a community group Bible study in his home. Left to right are members Amy Baca, Bill Baca and at far right, Kristi Willis. NAMB Photo by John Swain
Osburn and his wife, Sharla, are among five North American Mission Board missionaries featured as part of the annual Week of Prayer for North American Missions, March 4-11, 2012, and Annie Armstrong Easter Offering®. The offering helps support Osburn and other missionaries like him who serve on behalf of Southern Baptists throughout North America. With a goal of $70 million, this year’s offering theme is “Whatever It Takes.”

In 2005 Osburn began wrestling with the concept of planting a church that would reach the unchurched. But from the beginning his concern was for the health and welfare of Central. He went so far as to resign from Central and explored the possibility of planting a church in Oklahoma. Osburn visited and weighed the options, but a call from Central Baptist senior pastor Alan McAlister changed his plans.

McAlister suggested Osburn try exactly what he was planning, but do it at Central as associate pastor. That opened the door for a new Sunday night service and new small groups to build community. In three years a core group was ready to plant The Vine Community Church.

“Why would we want to start another church?” asked McAlister. “Well, over 80 percent of the population of this county is lost. If you sense that God is leading you to start a new work, the best thing you can do is do that, in spite of what logic might tell you. We’re a testimony that He truly blesses.”

The Vine now averages 210 in worship and pulls approximately 65 percent of its members from Cannon Air Force Base. They have a leased building that seats 300. 

“Because of Central doing this, they’ve gained 100 new members in a year and the Vine has gained 200,” said Osburn. “It proved to be the most biblical, godly thing they could do for the kingdom. And so it was good in God’s eyes. It was good spiritually. It was good for our community. It is a success.”

That multiplication, coming from a position of health and maturity, makes Osburn and Central Baptist a model for how church staff and churches can approach church planting. 

“Church planting is done best when healthy churches do what healthy living things do—reproduce,” said Ed Stetzer. “When the process includes healthy reproducing churches and prepared and healthy planters, it is a powerful and effective combination.”

The North American Mission Board is committed to helping churches prepare for partnership in church planting, wherever those churches find themselves, through Send North America. Clearing the hurdles for the healthy is important, but healing the hurting, and even dysfunctional, will only help the overall effectiveness of church planting efforts.

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