Sandy Creek Church Multiplying Micro-church Network • by Jay Judson
1755-1825 over 2,000 churches multiplied across 13 American states, and 4 countries. Shubal Stearns trained a handful of people at Sandy Creek North Carolina that started churches from the Chesapeake Bay to the Mississippi River. Shubal’s fourth generation trainees started illegal secret house churches among African slaves who started Black Baptist churches in Jamaica, the Bahamas, Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone, West Africa. North Carolina Colonial Governor’s efforts to force Baptists into the Church of England led to the pre-Revolutionary War, Regulator’s Rebellion that led to 6,000 baptist refugees fleeing over the mountains into what later became KY and Tennessee.
Baptist were forced to meet in underground house churches in oppressive Anglican controlled Virginia, Spanish Catholic controlled Mississippi, and Missouri.
Sandy Creek Baptist were then known for extremely passionate, often noisy worship and preaching. Both women and men were appointed as elders. They trained leaders through Paul-Timothy style chains. There were almost no salaried shepherds, no expensive church buildings, no Cooperative Program, no Sunday Schools, no mission agencies, and no conventions, yet these farmer-preachers multiplied and led their country to Christ.
Jeremiah 6:16 “This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
Below are just a small sample of the rapidly multiplying networks (associations) of new churches ignited by the leaders of the Sandy Creek MCN. Henry Blackaby and Claude King pointed out in Fresh Encounter, “Revivals are for the converted and Spiritual Awakening occur among the lost unchurched.” Sandy Creek has been labled a “Revival” by historians however it should be categorized as a “Spiritual Awakening.” MCNs are Spiritual Awakenings among unevangelized sinners.
Summary: A man named Shubal Stearns was used by God to start Sandy Creek Baptist Church in 1755. By 1758, Sandy Creek became three churches. By 1772, Sandy Creek had planted 42 daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter (4th generation) churches from the Chesapeake Bay to the Mississippi River and sent out George Lisle, their first missionary, outside the U.S.A. to Jamaica. By 1800, the Sandy Creek MCN became 1,000 churches, and by 1825 there were over 2,000. The Sandy Creek movement became the mother of the Southern Baptist Convention.!
Nine DNA practices of Sandy Creek MCN churches:!
- Love feasts!
- Healing (laying on of hands)!
- Washing feet (servant leadership)!
- Anointing the sick!
- Right hand of fellowship!
- Kiss of charity!
- Devoting children!
“This is what Yahweh says: Stand at the crossroads and look. Ask which paths are the old, reliable paths. Ask which way leads to blessings. Live that way, and find a resting place for yourselves. But you said that you wouldn’t live that way.” – Jeremiah 6:16!
Sandy Creek Multiplying Micro-church Network DNA:!
They rattled the rafters with theirs songs and were free to testify in church, say “amen” or, “glory,” and run or shout if they were moved by the Holy Spirit. They would not start their Association meeting without first being “led by the Spirit” to do so. The most distinctive feature of the Sandy Creek network leaders was their emotional style of preaching and worship: outcries, shaking, and ecstasies were common at their gatherings. Shouting, weeping, and falling down in a faint occurred often. Disciples often danced in the Spirit during worship. Women assumed a more prominent role in church gatherings as elderesses, deaconesses, and public preaching and prayer.!
The Sandy Creek network started the first underground micro-church networks among slaves. These disciples strongly opposed slavery. They sent George Lisle as a cross-cultural missionary to Jamaica. The charismatic nature of worship and prayer in African-American churches was deeply influenced by this movement. Jesse Bushyhead was also a cross-cultural missionary from this movement to the Cherokee nation. The vast majority of Sandy Creek movement churches gathered primarily in homes; a multiplying micro-church network!
Church elders apprenticed emerging leaders on their farms. Associational leaders distributed small resource libraries into the homes of micro-church leaders and missionaries where disciples could borrow books and study from their farm homes.!
Sandy Creek multiplying micro-church networks leaders were oppressed by the Virginia state-run church, which ended up imprisoning dozens of their leaders. Sandy Creek leaders preached to crowds through the bars of their jail cells. John Leeland, a movement leader, helped influence Thomas Jefferson to add the separation of church and state into the U.S.A. Constitution. !
Revivial, Awakening, or Multiplying Micro-church Network?
Sandy Creek Baptist Church became the mother church of over 40,000 Southern Baptist churches. Historians have called Sandy Creek a “revival.” However, this movement was not a revival but a continuation of the “Great Awakening.”