Church makes impact on mission mobilization
A small, rural church in lower South Carolina has made a huge impact on mission mobilization.
Members of George’s Creek Baptist in Olar “felt convicted to not hold on to financial resources in reserve and to release these resources for kingdom impact,” said Lee Clamp, associate executive director-treasurer of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.
As a result of their undisclosed but “substantial” gift, 54 college students who feel called to missions, ministry, or living their lives intentionally on mission are being deployed all over the world through the Palmetto Collective program, Clamp said.
“Knowing that not only could we support missions, but we could also benefit students, it was a no-brainer,” Deacon Franklin McCormick said. “What really sold us on it was that we’re helping build a pipeline (of students going) to the mission field.”
Through the Palmetto Collective, the church’s members learned, collegiate students will be afforded an opportunity to gain knowledge and experience in sharing their faith, and when the matter was brought before the congregation, “they were 100 percent supportive,” Pastor Ted Still added.
The Palmetto Collective is comprised of juniors and seniors from university campuses across South Carolina who are passionate about being missional leaders for the gospel. The students are committed to discovering God’s mission in the world and in their lives through studying God’s Word together, sharing with ministry mentors, participating in leadership retreats, and serving in mission opportunities during school breaks, summers, and even two years after college.
Because of the church’s generosity, SCBaptists were able to not only add four additional students to the Palmetto Collective, but also to fund almost the entire program for a year.
“I am so encouraged by a small church that would take a big step of faith,” Clamp said. “Their heart to generously give away the security of funding for potential needs in their future from their reserves to launch missionaries today will reap eternal benefits.
“They are setting the standard for having a willingness to release reserves to be used for Great Commission kingdom impact today,” he added.
The Palmetto Collective is a premiere strategy of SCBaptists in mission mobilization efforts, Clamp explained. Its graduates are being deployed all over the world — some to reach people groups who have never had a gospel witness, he said.
“We identify college students called to missions full time or willing to leverage their careers and lives for the gospel, and we give them training and opportunities to launch them full time in the future,” Clamp said. “We hope to elevate the numbers of fully funded South Carolina ‘sent ones’ through the International Mission Board and North American Mission board through the Palmetto Collective.”
Charlie Swain, SCBaptists’ Next Generation Mobilization strategist, oversees the program, which, although still in its infancy, already has some impressive statistics.
So far, 45 students have graduated from the program since its inception in 2020. “Many of them come from our three Baptist schools and are studying missions and ministry, but we also have several students who are connected to our Baptist Campus Ministries at public universities,” Swain said.
“Twenty-three seniors will graduate this May, and because of the generosity of this SCBC church and the Janie Chapman Missions Offering, we will add 25 incoming juniors to the program in the spring,” Swain said. The goal, he said, is to have 50 in the program at one time.
Nine students have been deployed to the International Mission Board — six Journeymen and three Project 3000 Missionary Explorers. “We have students in four of the IMB Affinities,” Swain noted. Currently 16 students are in the IMB’s application process, with six set to deploy across the world this summer.
Graduates also have been deployed to work with North American Mission Board church planters in the “Send Cities” of Salt Lake, Los Angeles, and New England. Three more will deploy to Send Cities after graduation.
“God is at work through the Palmetto Collective to reach the nations,” Ken Owens, leader of the SCBaptist Send Team, asserted.
“Students who are passionate about the gospel are being discipled intentionally and deeply to live on mission,” Owens said. “And God is sending them out to share Jesus in our state, across North America and throughout the world.”