Network of church planting veterans hopes to maximize SBTC efforts

Over the past six months, the SBTC church planting team has been diligently working to develop a statewide network of “church planting partners” to assist church planters with assessments, training, and coaching through the church planting process.

The network will function on three levels, said Terry Coy, SBTC senior church planting strategist. The first level is consultants, who generally spend half their time on church planting projects and strategies; the second is a network of planting partners?mostly experienced church planters?who will conduct assessments, train planters and serve as mentors and coaches; the third level includes associational and other partners who often have established church planting processes in place.

The network will also function according to a church plant’s regional location, affinity and ethnic language. Coy said, “The desire is to have as much localized and regionalized access to church planting as possible.”

Coy said the network’s goal is to connect, resource and train people to network with other church planters. The larger network, comprised of mini-networks, is designed to keep as much of the process as contextualized and local as possible. The SBTC church planting team will serve as connectors, resourcers and trainers helping the local networks and associations effectively plant and grow.

Church planting is a major part of the SBTC Missions Department, which receives nearly 40 percent of the SBTC budget. In its first six years, the SBTC has helped start more than 240 congregations.

Though planned for several years, the SBTC church planting network began functioning in earnest about six months ago. This year, several workshops and training programs are planned to expand the network and the SBTC church planting efforts, Coy said.

Such a workshop took place last year at First Baptist Church in Fairfield, led by Silvano Paiva, the SBTC’s Hispanic church planting consultant. The workshop drew 47 people from 17 Hispanic churches and included potential planters and key leaders?a success considering the workshop initially registered only 15 planters.

“We had participants from Northeast Texas, Austin, Galveston, the Rio Grande Valley, and even one person from Mexico,” Paiva said.

“Response to the workshop was outstanding,” Coy said. “Most left with a commitment to organizing or hosting similar workshops in their respective regions.”

One of the most exciting things to come from workshop was the “55-5=1” plan developed by Paiva. All who attended made a commitment to work toward growing their congregations to at least 55 adults in attendance. Once they reach 55, the church has a “calling out the called” service sending out five of their members to plant a new church.

Currently, Paiva along with other church planting consultants are working to coach regional leaders to create networks among other church planters.

“I am coaching regional leaders ? to plan local workshops related to church planting,” Paiva said. “If they are able to put together a group of 10 or more existing leaders and/or potential church planters, I go there and present the workshop.”

Coy and Paiva have worked recently to bring in new people to teach one or more of the workshop sessions from the existing pool of leaders. Less than a month after the Fairfield workshop, one of the SBTC’s newest planters, Jorge Cruz, organized a dinner for existing pastors and potential leaders at his home in Jacksonville that drew 18 people.

“As leaders such as Jorge Cruz emerge, we encourage them to get more training into becoming coaches of those with less experience in their region. I believe that God has people in each of the small churches that have a burden to reach people for Christ. Because they are members of a small, new church, the whole process is still fresh in their minds, so it is easier to reproduce,” Paiva said.

Many leaders are catching the church planting fever. Jose Vazquez, pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista in Pflugerville, is ministering in a new church. Already, they have more than 150 in attendance.

Of the new church, Paiva said, “Once [Vazquez] heard of the 55-5=1 plan, he immediately said that he wanted his church to be the first one to take on th

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