News Articles

Southwestern mag focuses on church planting in N. America

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–The fall issue of Southwestern News magazine focuses on church planting in North America and also includes guidelines for innovative church planting from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson.

The issue, a publication of Southwestern Seminary, features graduates who are serving in locations throughout the United States where the people traditionally have been difficult to reach for Christ. Feature stories focus on church planters in South Texas and Northern Mexico, Vermont, Washington state and an alumnus serving among the Oglala-Lakota Sioux nation in Pine Ridge, S.D.

Patterson’s contribution to the magazine comes in an article titled, “Iconoclastic Church Planting.”

“Both friends and detractors have sometimes alleged that I am a bit of an iconoclast,” Patterson writes. “I plead perfectly guilty to the charge and add that my own observation of ‘conventional wisdom’ on almost any subject is that it often suffers from little cogent thinking. The area of church planting is no different.”

In the article, Patterson offers 10 rules for planting churches in 21st century America. Among the rules are: going on the field as a tentmaker, if necessary; disavowing the notion that people are essentially different in different regions of the country; and becoming a fixture in the community through ministry as a chaplain even if that means working among those who frequent bars.

“On almost every point I realize that there is a certain iconoclasm, a certain rejection of practiced ideas of church planting,” Patterson writes. “… Church planting success lies in resolution, faith, prayer and the witness of the church planter and his family.”

Patterson also cautions against buying into the usual methods of church planting. He asserts that church planters should plant their churches “on biblical truth and methods and not on someone’s program.”

“Church planting is not about administrative reports, monetary support or preconceived methods,” Patterson writes. “It is about a Savior, a cross and empty tomb, lost men and women, a compassionate heart, knees that evidence the march of prayer, and a quiet devotion to do something new and significant in gratitude to our Lord who saved us. Do not buy into Willowcreek, the Purpose Driven Church, or even Paige Patterson’s ’10 Rules.’ Learn from anyone who is godly, scriptural and not in a grand business with you as the customer.”

Also included in the magazine is an essay by Bob Roberts, a 1983 graduate of Southwestern Seminary who serves as pastor of Northwood Church in Keller, Texas. Roberts’ article, “Starting churches vs. multiplying kingdom communities,” focuses on the role of established churches in church planting.

“No church that ignores either the world or church planting is following biblical instruction,” Roberts writes. “When I hear someone say, ‘We’re going to grow here first and then we’ll start another church’ or ‘we’re going to start churches instead of growing our church,’ I know that person doesn’t understand this principle of advancing the kingdom in the world. It’s not an either-or proposition; it’s a both-and proposition. Churches are supposed to grow and plant at the same time.”

The release of the magazine during the seminary’s weeklong emphasis on church planting in cooperation with the North American Mission Board’s Nehemiah Church Planting project is meant to encourage students to venture out to establish new congregations in non-traditional locales. The work is hard, Patterson said, but necessary.

The fall issue of Southwestern News magazine will be available to the public Sept. 21. It is posted online at http://www.swbts.edu/pr/southwesternnews/. For a free subscription to Southwestern News magazine, contact Brent Thompson, associate director of news and information at Southwestern Seminary, at [email protected].

    About the Author

  • Gregory Tomlin