Bakersfield Burning for Matthew 16:18

It was 109 degrees in Bakersfield, Calif., this week. It was hot like an oven is hot. It burned with smoldering intensity. It reminded me of the weeks and days before a church plant emerges for the first time. The pioneers in a church plant ought to burn with intense excitement as they prepare for that first public worship service. That excitement is what Cary and Maija Nack, their four children, and quite a few other pioneers are building as they prepare Vanguard Bible Church to emerge in Bakersfield.

The word vanguard is defined as troops moving at the head of an army or the forefront of an action or movement. The imagery of soldiers and action are biblical and excellent for church planting.

Vanguard Bible Church will be a partner in the FiveStone Churches network. We expect Vanguard to go public in spring 2015.

I've known planting pastor Cary Nack for about nine years, and I’ve appreciated both his character and his gifting. He meets the qualifications of an elder as described in Titus 1:5-9 and 1 Timothy 3:1-7, and does the work of an elder described in 1 Timothy 4:6-16. He’s also a fine preacher and leader and administrator.

We worked extensively together in planting what developed into a flourishing church in Illinois. That Illinois plant started with about eight of us gathering for a get-acquainted dinner. This California plant started with telephone discussions and planning meetings before I made the trip to Bakersfield to meet the planting core group and get to know the city of Bakersfield. (The city of 360,000 is 110 miles north of Los Angeles and 280 miles south of San Francisco. Bakersfield is growing fast; its population was 185,000 in 1990.)

While I was in town, Cary and the team hosted a most excellent meet-and-greet Coffee with the Pastor that included the core group and about 45 others who wanted to hear more about the vision and values of Vanguard Bible Church.

Here are a several of those values:

Preaching: bold exposition with application;

Worship: contemporary, passionate, contemplative;

Discipleship: intentional; built around Word, Worship, Walk, Work, Witness;

Gospel-centered Missions: service plus evangelism;

Excellence: honors God, removes distractions, attracts people;

Holiness without legalism.

A new, life-giving work in Bakersfield will please our Lord. I’m totally fired up about the Lord using Vanguard Bible Church and FiveStone Churches to take more California ground for His kingdom. It’s Matthew 16:18 all over again.

Read more about Cary, his family and the vision for Bakersfield in this news article on the FiveStone Churches website.