Winfield Bevins refers to himself as an accidental church planter. In fact, Winfield planned to be a professor, but God changed his direction with a phone call. A friend called and asked if he’d be interested in starting a church in Outer Banks, N.C. In faith and prayer, Winfield and his wife answered the call.
“This wasn’t part of my dream, but God planted me in the Outer Banks,” Winfield, Director of Asbury Seminary’s Church Planting Initiative, said. “Fifteen years ago I wanted to be a seminary professor, but through God’s providence I’m at a seminary, but as a practitioner instead of a professor.”
Winfield’s mission is to live out the Great Commission and to help others do likewise. He started the Church of the Outer Banks, N.C., with five people. In a few months, the church grew to several hundred and began meeting in a YMCA.
Winfield and his congregation explored new ways of expressing an age-old truth. They considered themselves a “fresh expression of an ancient faith.” The church took Christ’s command in Matthew 28:20 seriously, starting with local outreaches and then expanding to a global mission. These outreaches included adopting local beach accesses, sponsoring children, organizing surf camps, sending cows to Rwanda, opening an art gallery, sending Christmas shoeboxes and hosting a songwriter’s workshop.
The church experienced exponential growth.
Soon other church planters started coming to learn best practices from the Church of the Outer Banks. As a result of this interest, Winfield started a church planting network in North Carolina that ended up planting about 40 churches across the state. He is the co-founder of of two church planting networks, Mission Carolina and Kardia and has been responsible for dozens of new church planting networks.
But for Winfield, church planting isn’t just a movement. It’s discipling others and preparing, equipping and training them to do the same. A year ago, Winfield joined Asbury Seminary as the director of the Church Planting Initiative. Through his hands-on experience and relationships with students and global church planters, he seeks to train and equip others to live out God’s mission.
“We live in a truly global and multicultural world where we must be missionally minded and globally engaged Christians,” Winfield said. “As we look at the world around us, there is a tremendous need for learning from global church planting movements.”