News Articles

Pastoring by e-mail one result of Southwestern Summer Praxis

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–When Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary student Brian Iverson became pastor of a church 1,200 miles from school, he decided to mail it in. E-mail it in, that is.
What may be the first pastorate via e-mail is just one result of Southwestern’s Summer Praxis, which sent 16 students to six states resulting in three new churches and at least eight Bible studies. Iverson, Karla Turner and Kyle Cunningham shared their experiences during a recent chapel at Southwestern.
“It is impossible to pastor a church this way (via e-mail) (long-term), but it is the least that I can do `til I can get back there,” Iverson said. “The church is such a wonderful group of people who are mainly caring for each other.”
Iverson, a master of divinity student, went to his home state of Wisconsin to start a Bible study in Stevens Point and returned as pastor of a church barely two months old.
A few weeks after arriving, Iverson felt led to start another Bible study in his hometown of Amherst, 15 minutes away. The fellowship grew and became the Amherst Bible Church July 19. Iverson was called as pastor even though he has another year of seminary in faraway Fort Worth, Texas.
Church members use the Internet to stay close to their pastor, sharing concerns and questions via e-mail, and waiting for a response. Every Saturday evening, Iverson prepares an encouraging message that is read during the Sunday worship service.
Iverson plans to spend a couple of weeks with the church during Christmas break and to return to pastor in person after graduating in spring 1999. Until then, Iverson will keep sending e-mail messages, have area pastors fill the pulpit and pray for the church.
Turner ministered in Las Vegas. “I found out the reason Las Vegas is called the Sin City,” she said. “You can see the oppression and the darkness over the city.”
Working with Las Vegas Christians, Turner went door-to-door handing out tracts and inviting people to Bible studies. “People were tired of opening their doors to people from all religions, and they were not very receptive,” Turner said.
The persistence of spreading tracts to over 900 homes paid off when Turner saw God use her to help start an adult Bible study and call a pastor to continue the work.
Cunningham spent his summer in Albuquerque, N.M. “The Summer Praxis provides the opportunity to give legs to our faith,” he said. “Our goal was to start adult Bible studies in multi-housing complexes.”
Cunningham started backyard Bible clubs and other ministry opportunities for children in apartment complexes in an effort to reach parents and start an adult Bible study.
“It is exciting to know that two adult Bible studies are going on today that weren’t before this summer,” he said. “We were able to direct people who had been misdirected in knowing the person of Christ.”
The program is a cooperative effort. “The North American Mission Board provides the funding, the seminary provides part of the supervision and six hours of credit to the student, and local people provide housing and supervision,” said Ebbie Smith, associate director of Southwestern’s Scarborough Institute associate director and Summer Praxis supervisor.

    About the Author

  • D. Chad McConnell & Matt Sanders