USMB is pleased to announce the hiring of Brian Harris as the new church planting mobilizer. Harris brings pastoral leadership and church planting experience to the role, having served since 2004 as lead pastor of Pine Acres Church, a USMB congregation in Weatherford, Oklahoma.
“I am thrilled to have Brian stepping into this role,” says USMB Leadership Board chair Luke Haidle. “As Mennonite Brethren, church planting remains one of our core values, and we are thrilled to have someone provide focused leadership.”
Harris is a member of the Southern District Conference Church Extension and Evangelism Commission (CEEC), the district’s church planting and renewal commission, and has a heart for church planting.
Before coming to Oklahoma, Harris planted Southern Hills Community Church in North Royalton, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. He has also served as an assistant pastor at Ashland (Ohio) Grace Brethren from 1997 to 2001 and as youth pastor at Bethany Church in Long Beach, Calif., from 1993 to 1997.
Harris earned his bachelor’s degree in Bible/theology from Moody Bible Institute and his master’s degree in ministry—and later his doctor of ministry degree in pastoral studies—from Grace Theological Seminary.
“Ever since I planted a church, I’ve had a heart for planters and the hard work it takes,” Harris says. “I remember the prayers and financial support from so many to allow me to start a new work. Being connected and encouraging plants and planters is an energizing place to be. What could be better than spending your life literally assisting in the Great Commission? I love dreamers and visionaries who wake up hungry to see new disciples. I get energized working with planters and church planting teams.”
In his role as church planting mobilizer, Harris will be responsible for establishing a national MB church multiplication vision through church planting with the goal of producing new disciple-making, reproducing Mennonite Brethren churches.
Harris will also oversee the Church Planting Council (CPC); connect networks of Mennonite Brethren churches and encourage organic church planting development; collaborate with the districts and aid with church planter discernment, recruitment, evaluation and assessments in collaboration with the independent Church Planting Network. He will also work with church renewal and revitalization.
Harris will oversee national fundraising for USMB church planting and will report to USMB national director Don Morris.
Harris will be formally introduced at USMB Gathering 2022 in July before beginning his new role on Aug. 1, 2022.
“It is fitting and timely that Brian will be introduced this summer at our USMB convention as the theme this year is focused on evangelism,” says CPC member Andy Owen. “I believe the success of Brian in the church planting mobilizer position will depend not so much on his own abilities or strategies, nor in the effectiveness of the Church Planting Council, but more so on all of us as USMB churches and members to commit ourselves to following Jesus in his mission. As we collectively humble ourselves and seek the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit, he will lead us forward and increase our impact in a world that desperately needs the hope of the gospel.”
Harris says he is excited to not only encourage local pastors and their dreams for church growth, but also serve districts as an extension of their vision for church planting and support planters along the way.
“I want to be a servant that walks alongside you for the Great Commission,” he says. “I am so thankful for everyone who invests.”
Harris and his wife, Stephanie, have been married 30 years and have two daughters, Reagan and Macie. Because of the extensive traveling required by the position, the couple plans to relocate to Owasso, Oklahoma, to be near an airport.