It’s crazy the journey that Jesus has taken me on since moving to Norfolk in July/Aug. of 2008. My desire in all of this is that no church planter would ever be alone and that he would have a walk-alongside, side-by-side coach during the first two years of church planting.
– Jamie Limato, coaching church planters
When Jamie Limato came through the enlistment process to serve as an SBCV church planter apprentice, the year was 2007. Limato had been serving as a children’s minister when God began to lead him in a direction that would multiply the reach of the Gospel beyond anything he could have imagined.
He served for a year under the direction of two SBCV church planters—Clint Clifton at Pillar Church in Dumfries and Dave Proffitt at Aletheia Church in Harrisonburg. Apprenticing with Clifton and Proffitt was a formative experience for Limato. Their coaching influenced him in ways that are still evident in his ministry 10 years later.
In 2008, Limato made the shift from apprentice to church planter. He moved to Norfolk with his family and another apprentice to begin planting Aletheia Norfolk, a church focused on reaching students at Old Dominion University (ODU). As he began to look for available locations for the new church to worship, he thought about the future. He told Mark Custalow, SBCV’s Church Planting Team leader, “I can see us meeting one day in the Ted Constant Center” (ODU’s 9,100-seat basketball arena). Every week, he’d faithfully strap on a backpack full of Gospel pamphlets, bring one or more students with him, and share Christ on campus. Students came to repentance and faith in Christ; small groups started on and off campus; students were discipled in their faith and became evangelism and ministry leaders; and the church met weekly for worship.
Limato shifted from church planter to catalytic church planter in 2011. A catalytic church planter makes a commitment to plant at least one church every two years. Limato adopted the model of enlisting church planter candidates and investing in them as Clifton and Proffitt had done for him.
In 2012, Aletheia joined with Bethel Baptist Church of Yorktown as it commissioned and sent out its student pastor with a launch team to start Catalyst Church near the campus of Christopher Newport University in Newport News. Limato’s role was to provide coaching to Catalyst planter Jeff Mingee. In 2015, Limato began to invest in church planter apprentice Charles Shannon. The next year, he led Aletheia to send out Shannon and a team to start The Mission Church in Norfolk with a partial focus of reaching students at Norfolk State University.
It was during this period of investing in planter candidates that Limato found a new facet of what God created him to do. He found great joy in coaching church planters. Through God’s providence, leaders at the North American Mission Board (NAMB) invited Limato to participate as a coach for NAMB church planters. Recognizing that God had uniquely gifted him, NAMB began to utilize Limato to equip other church planting coaches. His help was instrumental last year in assisting the SBCV to add another layer of nurturing to its church planters—by training enough SBCV pastors to provide a coach for every SBCV church planter in his first two years of planting.
Limato accepted a part-time position with NAMB at the beginning of this year. He serves as NAMB’s East Coast coaching coordinator, leading the church planter coaching system for Detroit, Cincinnati, Columbus, New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Atlanta, and Miami. In this role, he contributes regularly to the NAMB church planter coaching podcast and the Send Network coaching blog. He is helping develop the leadership pipeline and training materials for the national coaching system. Limato continues to pastor Aletheia Norfolk, where the mission is to make disciples and multiply leaders. He also works together with Jeff Mingee to assist the SBCV in continuing its focus on collegiate church planting.
My desire in all of this is that no church planter would ever be alone and that [he] would have a walk-alongside, side-by-side coach during the first two years of church planting. My desire is that through the systems that provide training, development, and multiplication of coaches, that we truly will be able to deliver great coaching to every church planter.
It’s crazy the journey that Jesus has taken me on since moving to Norfolk in July/August of 2008. Back then, I would have most certainly thought I would have had a big, “successful” church plant [by now] and would have had no time for things like this. God most certainly had different plans.
It was through the path of pain and frustration that God allowed me to find my greater contribution to the Kingdom of God. I am learning to accept that sometimes our idea of success may not be God’s idea and He may use us to help others to be successful—and that is success.
Although Aletheia has yet to meet at the Ted, God has certainly extended the Gospel on the campus and in the community surrounding ODU. Aletheia is still making disciples, and there is yet another church planter apprentice learning the ropes of ministry at Aletheia to be commissioned and sent out to plant. Moreover, there are scores of church planters today who are grateful that God’s plan for Jamie Limato extended beyond his immediate community.