Church planter to lead CBF initiative

In what the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s Harry Rowland calls a “new season” for the organization’s church-starting efforts, the CBF has selected Andy Hale to oversee its Church Starts Initiative. 

By Bob Allen

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has contracted with an experienced church planter in North Carolina to oversee a decade-old initiative begun to encourage and support the starting of new churches.

Andy haleAndy Hale, pastor of Mosaic of Clayton in Clayton, N.C., will take over the Decatur, Ga.-based Fellowship’s Church Starting Initiative, CBF Missional Congregations Director Harry Rowland announced June 17.

Hale, a graduate of Campbell University with both a bachelor’s and the master of divinity degree, launched Mosaic in 2011 in an effort to reach young adults not connecting with established churches. Clayton is a formerly rural community marked by new businesses, hospitals and rapid economic growth.

Hale will remain in Clayton and continue as pastor of Mosaic while working alongside Rowland as a contractor.

Rowland described Hale’s addition as “new season” for the organization’s church-starting efforts.

Unlike large denominations with fully funded church-planting programs, the 1,800-church Fellowship doesn’t have a single model for starting a new church. CBF church planters work in both economically deprived and affluent communities, reach out to groups like immigrants and those in need of pastoral care and worship in styles from liturgical to cowboy churches. Some are led by women, who today make up about 40 percent of the student population at CBF-affiliated theology schools.

The CBF Church Starting Initiative begins with a discernment process in online cohorts that provide coaching to church starters and a network for mutual support. The next cohort begins July 6.

The cohort lasts eight weeks, followed by an exploratory conference in October. Those completing the process will be commissioned as church planters at the 2015 CBF General Assembly in Dallas.

Hale, previously associate pastor at First Baptist Church of Clayton, completed the process and was commissioned as a CBF church starter at the 2012 General Assembly in Fort Worth, Texas.

Rowland said he expects Hale’s creativity and proven track record as a church starter to increase participation in the Church Starting Initiative.

“Andy’s love for the church, experience on the staff of an established church and his courageous calling to begin a new church start make him the ideal person to take CBF’s Church Starting Initiative to the next level,” Rowland said.

“Andy is an eager learner, listens well, is creative, energetic and has a proven track record of faithfulness in all he has undertaken,” Rowland said. “I am confident that the Fellowship will be enriched by Andy’s ministry.”

Hale said he plans to build on the work of his predecessor, David King, who served CBF in the area of church starts for 10 years.

“To be asked to join such an excellent group of people is quite humbling,” Hale said. “It is exciting to step into a role with such an excellent foundation from the work of David King and to begin exploring new and innovative ways to grow the kingdom of God.”

— With reporting by Aaron Weaver of CBF communications.