ALLEN—In addressing a regular item of business regarding church planting, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Executive Board heard news worth celebrating during its April 25 meeting.
First, the business: the board unanimously approved setting aside $500,000 to strengthen the convention’s church planting efforts through the rest of the decade. Send Network SBTC—a church planting collaboration struck in 2021 between the SBTC and the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) Send Network—anticipates planting approximately 50 churches per year through at least 2030. The reserve funding would be used to supplement support already provided through the SBTC and NAMB.
In hearing the recommendation to reserve funding, the board received an update on the effectiveness of Send Network SBTC, which is funding 70 planters:
- By the end of 2022, 50% more planters had been assessed than during the previous year, with a total of 35 churches planted.
- Understanding the need to plant more Hispanic churches to minister to an ever-growing Hispanic population in Texas, Send Network SBTC has created a Spanish Assessment Center—one of only two of its kind in the country.
- Since Send Network SBTC began, 37 couples have been assessed (including 21 English and 15 Spanish) and 14 church planting residencies have been funded. Residencies provide future planters with 12-18 months of direct ministry experience working with an SBTC multiplying church.
“Things are looking incredible,” SBTC Executive Director Nathan Lorick said to the board. “There are challenges in the future, but they’re good challenges. If I’m going to have a problem with church planting, I’d rather it be how we can create more funds to plant more churches. I’m very encouraged by that. … Pray with us and ask the Lord to send us more planters. I believe God will help us fund as many planters as He will send to us.”
Lightner approved as next associate executive director
Joe Lightner—a pastor, church planter, and former college president—was unanimously approved by the executive board to serve as the SBTC’s next associate executive director. He steps into the role vacated by Tony Wolfe, who left the SBTC earlier this year to become executive director of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.
Lightner most recently served as interim senior strategist for the SBTC’s Digital Ministries and Communications (DMC) department, a role he has held since November 2022. As associate executive director, his duties will include strategy development and implementation for the convention. He will also continue to assist DMC until its next senior strategist is hired.
“Dr. Nathan Lorick, our executive director, has built an incredible team, culture, and vision that I am excited to join,” Lightner said.
No stranger to the SBTC, Lightner has preached at convention events including its Bible conference, annual meeting, and chapel services. He has also served on the SBTC Nominating Committee.