DALLAS -- Texas Baptists has named Ryan Jespersen director of urban missions.
With a majority of the population living in urban, inner-city areas, Jespersen believes these communities need more outreach, which he plans to encourage through his new position.
"You're typically not going to have as strong of churches in the inner-city," he said. "My goal is to eventually 'call out the called' of young people who want to pastor and work in urban churches."
In his new role, Jespersen will provide leadership and guidance for short-term, mid-term and long-term volunteers who can help strengthen existing urban churches and plant new ones.
As former pastor of the inner-city Grace Temple Baptist Church in Dallas, Jespersen has acquired a heart for ministry in the urban setting. When he began serving at Grace Temple, the church was in a rough situation. The community changed, and church membership was declining.
"We began to see God do some really great things when we began to seek the Lord and reach out to the community," he said.
After seven years of serving as pastor, he believes Grace Temple is now going strong and can help urban churches faced with similar dilemmas. He hopes to see other inner-city churches get to that same point.
As director of urban missions, Jespersen plans to encourage volunteers in the areas of evangelism, community missions, medical missions, collegiate and Baptist Student Ministry work, construction and a wide variety of other ministries to assist urban churches.
Encouraging volunteers from collegiate age to retired folk to get involved in urban missions will be beneficial for churches, said Josue Valerio, Texas Baptists director of Missions Mobilization.
"We want to bridge the generational gap," he said. With Jespersen's familiarity with urban settings and his heart for missions, Valerio believes he can provide the guidance to help bridge that gap.
Jespersen graduated from Dallas Baptist University with a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity, and is currently studying Spiritual Formation in the Doctor of Ministry Program at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary.
In 2006, he became pastor of Grace Temple. Prior to that, he served as pastoral assistant at The Oaks Baptist Church in Grand Prairie and in a variety of other ministry positions.
He and his wife, Joanna, reside in the Oak Cliff community and have two young daughters.
When Jespersen began to consider the opportunity to serve with urban missions for Texas Baptists, the Lord began to work on his heart, he said. He looks forward to answering that call and encouraging volunteers, young and old, to reach out to urban churches in Texas, North America and the ends of the world.
He will also work with Mission Service Corps volunteers and oversee the Church-Based Mission Sending fund.