Brad and Sarah Newman knew they felt called to plant a church. They were already active members and family pastors in their own church, South Georgia Baptist Church, in Amarillo, TX. Furthermore, the Newmans had been involved with a church plant in Denver, where they had learned how to set up a new church. They began looking at options all over the country, waiting for God to call them somewhere.
“We kind of thought we’d go far away,” Brad Newman explained. “But at that same time, the church we served at got a heart for church planting.”
South Georgia Baptist wanted to start a new church, and they had their eyes on a neighborhood in Amarillo.The Tradewind community was a booming suburb in southeast Amarillo. Young families were flocking to the area, drawn by new affordable housing opportunities. Cut off by a small local airport, the community felt isolated from the rest of the city.
“The idea of this Tradewind community kind of looked us in the face… here’s a place with tremendous growth and no church,” Newman said.
So in May 2018, South Georgia Baptist Church began planning the new Tradewind Community Church, the first church in the area. Things quickly began falling into place.
Their first challenge was finding somewhere to meet. With no traditional church buildings available, they began looking at non-traditional options. Through God’s providence, the new Tradewind associate pastor, Jonathan Dindinger, found himself seated next to the principal of the Tradewind Elementary School. She turned to him and began talking about her desire to partner the school with a church who would provide activities and outreach to the school.
When Dindinger told her about their vision for a church in Tradewind, the principal offered the school auditorium as a meeting location. The kids would have Sunday school in the library and nursery in the hall. The church happily accepted.
Though Tradewind Community Church did not officially begin until September 8, 2019, they began hosting preview services throughout the spring and summer. Their first preview service took place on Easter Sunday, where they had about 40 families from their sending church, South Georgia, as well as around 30 people from the Tradewind community.
Newman explained that the purpose for these previews was twofold. One reason was to garner attention and excitement for the church before it had even opened. But a second important, but often overlooked reason, was to make sure everything goes smoothly. Making sure that sound equipment works, Sunday schools have places to meet, and doors are unlocked and ready are all vital things that need to be worked out before a church can ever officially begin.
“When you have a church building, it’s all built-in, but we have to think of all this stuff,” Newman said.
Texas Baptists church plants like Tradewind Community Church do not have everything readily available like a traditional church. Equipment for services must be unloaded and set up each week, and they have to ensure that everything is neatly cleaned up at the end of the day so that school can resume Monday morning.
Despite these technicalities, Newman is excited about the church and its future. “Church planting is the most exciting thing I’ve ever been a part of in my entire life.”
Loving thy neighbor
The biggest focus for Newman and the other leaders of the church is simply getting to know the local community. The church has hosted a number of events to spread the word and build relationships. They have hosted an Easter festival, a summer kickoff, and even a movie night.
The Easter festival was their first community outreach event. Funds from the Mary Hill Davis Offering, an offering focused on Texas-based missions coordinated by WMU of Texas, were essential to pull everything off. The money went towards purchasing Easter eggs, games, and food for the community. Hundreds of people attended, and it provided a great opportunity to minister to Tradewind Community Church’s new neighbors.
“All of this outreach… we try to be intentional,” Newman said. “You’re here to have fun, but we want you to hear about Jesus.”
Approaches such as fun events and building personal relationships are essential to church planting. People are more likely to accept an invitation to church from someone they know and trust. Newman and Dindinger felt that it was important to relocate their families to the heart of the Tradewind neighborhood. They wanted to get to know the people they would be ministering to as friends and neighbors.
“Jesus loved people. He met them where they were, he knew their names… that’s what we’re trying to do,” Newman said.
Tradewind Community Church is working hard to emulate the love of Jesus Christ. They are building relationships, whether it is through volunteering at the elementary crosswalk or handing out free popcorn at a movie night. They know that each hand they shake, each smile they show, has the potential to draw someone into the church and God’s grace.
Newman acknowledges that they are hardly experts when it comes to church planting. But with God guiding them, he is confident they will succeed. The Tradewind community needs a church in the heart of their community, somewhere they can grow and worship together.
“The reasoning is simple,” Newman said. “Every place in our city should have an outpost of the Gospel.”
Church plants like Tradewind Community Church are made possible in part by the Mary Hill Davis Offering. The Mary Hill Davis Offering is a Texas WMU-led offering that supports missions around the state of Texas. The 2019 MHD Offering statewide goal is $3.8 million and the Week of Prayer for Texas Missions is September 8-15.
Click here to give to the MHD Offering to support missions and ministries for discipleship and church multiplication across Texas. Click here for promotional materials to share about the offering in your church.