GRAPEVINE, Texas (BP) – A new church-planting collaboration with the North American Mission Board, the election of two ministry staff leaders and the posthumous conferral of the Leaders Legacy Award upon Jimmy D. Pritchard highlighted the Tuesday (Aug. 24) meeting of the executive board of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC). The board met at the convention’s Grapevine offices and also approved a $26.5 million proposed budget for 2022 (see related story.) Annual meeting messengers will consider the budget during the convention’s November meeting.
Texas to become Send state
Beginning in 2022, Texas will become a Send state through the North American Mission Board’s Send Network. Until recently, the Send initiative targeted significant cities in North America. Send states, like Send cities, will be the focus of church-planting resources to address rising populations and lostness. Under the plan, NAMB will take on a significant role in planter assessment, training and coaching, orientation, care and funding. SBTC staff and consultants will be trained in Send Network processes. While NAMB will fund planter support and other areas, the SBTC will continue to make grants, host church planter retreats and provide additional care for planters. All Texas churches planted under this program will be SBTC-affiliated and affirm the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.
The expectation for the collaboration is that SBTC church planting will be enhanced, resulting in increases in the number, health and sustainability of church plants. Either party may terminate the relationship with a six-month written notice. Statewide church planting relationships currently exist between NAMB and state conventions in Florida, Missouri, Oklahoma and Virginia.
NAMB president Kevin Ezell said of the effort: “We really are stronger together. I know we say that all the time, but this shows that it’s true.”
SBTC executive director Nathan Lorick expressed confidence that the agreement would result in an increase in the number of church planters in Texas, calling the Send Network the “gold standard” in church planting.
New leaders for missional ministries, TEXAN
Pastor Tony Mathews was elected senior strategist for the largest of the SBTC’s ministry divisions – missional ministries, which includes evangelism, missions and church planting. Mathews, who has been pastor of North Garland (Texas) Fellowship Baptist Church for 29 years, has been serving as the interim director for SBTC missional ministries. He will continue in an interim role with the SBTC until March, when he transitions out of his pastorate.
Under Mathews’ leadership, North Garland Fellowship has assisted with 10 church starts, traveled on mission in 17 countries and grown from 70 members to about 700.
His service to the denomination includes being vice president of the SBTC, president of the SBTC African American Fellowship and vice chairman of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary board of trustees.
Mathews holds a Doctor of Ministry and a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Seminary as well as a Master of Arts in Christian leadership from Criswell College and a Bachelor of business administration from Angelo State University. He is married to Angela and they have three children.
The board also approved the hiring of Jayson Larson as digital ministries and communications associate. Larson will become editor of the TEXAN, the print and digital newsjournal of the SBTC, in 2022 as Gary Ledbetter moves to an advisory position with the publication.
Larson, currently senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Prineville, Ore., served as associate pastor of First Baptist Church Vidor, Texas, from 2015-2019. He earned a degree in journalism/communication from Trinity Valley Community College and a Bachelor of Arts in communication and biblical study from Liberty University. He is currently pursuing a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Seminary.
DMC Senior Strategist Lance Crowell described Larson as “understanding the news side of the TEXAN and also having a pastor’s heart.”
Larson has extensive experience in journalism, having been a sports and news writer and editor for the Athens Daily Review and other newspapers. He has won numerous awards from the Associated Press Managing Editors Association, Texas Press Association and Northeast Texas Press Association. He also formerly served as a public relations officer for Trinity Valley Community College.
He is married to Brandi and they have two children.
The board voted unanimously to honor the late Jimmy D. Pritchard with the first Leaders Legacy Award from the Southern Baptists of Texas Foundation. The foundation recently voted to create the award to honor individuals who have distinguished themselves by their service to Christ through the SBTC.
Pritchard, who died of COVID-19 on Feb. 24, was SBTC president from 2014-2015. For 39 years, he served churches in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas. During his long tenure at First Baptist Forney, Texas, Pritchard led the church in its move to a $36 million suburban facility and saw 38 men and women surrender to vocational ministry. In that time, the church welcomed 6,500 new members, more than 2,900 through baptism.
In addition to his time as SBTC president, Pritchard also served the denomination as trustee and chairman of the International Mission Board from 2006-2014, and trustee and board chairman of Criswell College from 2002-2007 and 2010-2015.
The Leaders Legacy Award will be awarded by the SBTC Executive Board’s executive committee and the SBT Foundation and is funded by the foundation’s Leaders Legacy Endowment.