New church plants deep roots via Reach Texas Missions Offering
August 27th, 2018 / By: Karen L. Willoughby | TEXAN Correspondent / comments
KELLER Kason Branch knew God had led him to plant a church, but how? Where?
With ministry plan in hand—plus resources and encouragement—provided by the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s church planting team, Keystone Fellowship of Fort Worth pastored by Damon Halliday as a sponsoring church and Concord Church of Dallas as a sending church, Branch started Creekstone Baptist Church in Keller in April of 2016.
Joining with SBTC “seemed to be a fit; we shared the same values,” Branch told the TEXAN. “Richard Taylor [SBTC associate for personal evangelism and fellowships] did a great job of shepherding and encouraging me through the process during the initial stages.”
“It feels like a warm family as we’re about 80 people,” Branch continued. “We’re in a great facility and have baptized 19 new believers since last August. God is moving!”
The Reach Texas State Missions Offering helps churches like Creekstone Keller get started.
Branch left the corporate world in 2010 to be chief operating officer at Concord Baptist Church, a sizable independent Baptist church in south Dallas, where he’d been discipled and mentored since 2005 by the senior pastor, Bryan Carter.
Being part of the leadership of an established church that grew to 9,000 members while he served there would be vastly different from planting a church, especially one in Keller, a north Tarrant County suburb of Fort Worth, where he felt led. Branch sought advice and was referred to the SBTC by trusted mentors and peers.
“The SBTC helped further my understanding of church planting, and also the encouragement I’ve received has given me great hope and has strengthened me,” Branch said. “I feel like there’s a team of people who are rooting for our kingdom success.”
The Branch family, including his wife Shanea, son Owen and daughter Kayden Grace, sold their home in DeSoto, south of I-20 in suburban Dallas, and moved into an apartment in the Keller area, north of I-30, where they’ve been living for three years as they plant the church.
Shanea Branch found a teaching job at the school their children attend. The youngsters are involved in baseball, soccer and dance, and the family has adapted well to its new culture, Branch said.
“The Lord really did bless us in the transition,” he noted. “We changed our whole life for this, but it’s been worth it because we’ve seen God move in an amazing way in the lives of other people.”
Finding a meeting place for the church was difficult. “I was told ‘No’ 22 times as to a [church] location,” Branch said. Finally a discount movie theater in nearby North Richland Hills said ‘Yes.’ Six months later the church moved to its current location in the Keller Pointe indoor/outdoor community recreation center.
While Creekstone does do some door-to-door ministry, the church’s main outreach has been through partnering with the City of Keller, and with the recreation center.
“All the training I went to talked about ‘blessing the city,’” Branch said. “Nic Burleson [pastor] of Timber Ridge Church in Stephenville was one who talked about it, and it got me to thinking about how we could bless the city with the events they already have.”
For Keller’s Daddy-Daughter Dance in February, Creekstone Church sets up and cleans up before and after the event, with time in between to build relationships and share their faith with participants. There’s an Easter Egg Scramble, September “Rec the Park” and, in December, Holly Days, plus a “Trash Bash” twice a year to pick up along city roadways. Four partnership events with the community center last year included a carnival-type Pumpkin Splash, with dozens of pumpkins floating in the pool.
Creekstone Church has received funds from the Reach Texas State Missions Offering in hopes that it will help establish another strong, evangelistic church, and the support is greatly appreciated.
“The money we’ve received from Reach Texas has helped us advance the ministry,” Branch said. “There are a lot of people in the SBTC with a heart for God and his people, who want to see the kingdom of God expanded among all people.
“Creekstone Church has the same desire,” Branch said. “That’s what I see in the SBTC’s initiatives. We have the same heart.” Creekstone Church gives 5 percent of undesignated offerings to missions through the Cooperative Program, the SBC’s method of supporting missions and ministries in Texas and throughout the world.
Branch said he was drawn to Keller, with its 45,000 residents—up from 27,000 residents in 2000—because “this area is growing rapidly and all the numbers point to it continuing to grow.” In 2009 the town was listed by Money magazine as 7th of the nation’s 10 best places to live.
“We wanted to establish a presence in the community so we can reach people here. There are a lot of people who have come to the area who haven’t connected with a church. We have an opportunity to help them come to know Jesus Christ and to grow, and to give people a great big glimpse of God.”
That being said, “We live in a culture increasingly neglectful of God and preoccupied with other things: rodeo, baseball, kids’ sports,” Branch said. “We’re battling the culture in regards to getting people to church, but those we’ve been able to reach are becoming family.
“People aren’t rushing out after services,” Branch said. “As a pastor I see us growing deep in relationship with God and with one another, and that warms my heart. You want to grow deep before you grow wide and we’re doing just that. It just confirms we’re headed in the right direction, doing it God’s way.”