JEFFERSON CITY – Baptist Builders may be one of the best kept secrets in Missouri, but one of its most active members wants to help it grow into a well-known and often-used ministry.
Leighton Clemons, a member of Country Meadows in Independence said he thinks Baptist Builders can take an already established ministry and build – pun intended – something even better.
Baptist Builders offers a simple way to help construct a new building while being good stewards: a church provides the materials, and Baptist Builders provide the labor at zero cost. It may be a little bit more time-consuming than paying a contractor, but it is substantially cheaper. Volunteers pay their own expenses, use their own tools and even carry their own insurance.
Elm Spring Baptist Church in Kingsville benefited from Baptist Builders from Missouri and Texas.
“Sure, it saved us money, but it also implanted in our church the desire to go out and help other churches,” said Debbie Briscoe, the church’s building team leader. “Our own first volunteer builder mission team of 23 went this year to Flag Springs Baptist Church to help them rebuild their building which had been destroyed by fire.”
Clemons wants to build on that contagious desire for service and sees potential for Baptist Builders to go beyond its traditional role of building churches. He said he thinks it can become a follow-up and complimentary ministry for Disaster Relief. The idea is that when the disaster relief volunteers are sent home, Baptist Builders can come in and do some of the specialized work.
One woman Clemons met in Colorado while working with Missouri Baptists’ Disaster Relief was planning on taking two months off of work to get her home back into shape.
“In a situation like that, if we had enough Baptist Builders, we could help her rebuild in no time,” he said. “We love building churches, and we’ll always build churches, but this could be a huge ministry.”
Baptist Builders was formerly a ministry organized through the Home Mission Board, which became the North American Mission Board (NAMB). NAMB turned the ministry over to individual state conventions several years, ago, but it never gained the wide-spread reach of Disaster Relief.
“We’ve got churches all over the state and country that have teams that go out and do work and do a great job, but none of them know what the others are doing,” Clemons said. “They don’t need me, but if we could collectively come together somehow in a network, we could be a lot stronger.”
Clemons said one church may have a team of finish carpenters or painters that team up with Clemons, a retired electrician, who can complete a job that neither could do alone.
“If a job can be planned out correctly, one team with a particular skill leaves, and the next team comes in and does their particular skill,” he said.
The planning and networking is where Dwain Carter, director of Disaster Relief for the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC), can help. Along with Clemons, he said he sees potential to build up a network of skilled workers and better connect the chapters that already exist.
“We’d like get to where we have regional coordinators and the multiple teams that can do different types of work,” Carter said. “Right now it’s splintered, but think of what we can do with some organization.”
“We would be unlimited,” Clemons said.
Koonce earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Oklahoma Baptist University in 2005.