SBTC executive board hears reports on networks, church planting, and more

Julio Arriola (left) and Joe Lightner (right) pray for church planter Chris Millar of The Well Community Church during the SBTC executive board meeting April 23. SBTC PHOTO

HORSESHOE BAY—There is power in connecting.

That was a key message Spencer Plumlee, elder and senior pastor of First Baptist Church Mansfield, delivered to the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention executive board April 23 during its quarterly meeting. Plumlee was speaking about the SBTC’s Young Pastors Network (YPN), for which he serves as a consultant.

YPN is a networking and leadership development initiative offered by the SBTC for pastors 40 years old and younger. Several years ago, YPN was reorganized around three priorities, according to Plumlee: to encourage pastors with resources to help them grow in their calling; to empower them to have a voice in the future of the convention; and to connect them to lifelong ministry relationships and partnerships.

“What has made this network thrive is deep brotherhood and connections,” Plumlee said. “As we look to the future, let me encourage whatever networks we launch to have relationships at their heart. The SBTC is strategically positioned to convene—that is, to pull leaders together in these kind of meaningful connections. Networks are an amazing way to accomplish this.”

One of the ways YPN connects its members is through cohorts. Participating YPN pastors are placed in groups of five to 10, with each group being led by an experienced mentor. Cohorts meet several times over a two-year period to discuss current issues related to pastoral ministry, to connect and speak into each other’s lives, and to hold each other accountable. Plumlee said 80 pastors have participated in a cohort to date.

“What’s happening in the Young Pastors Network is a true brotherhood,” said Joe Lightner, SBTC’s associate executive director. “ … It’s something we want every pastor to experience in some way in our convention.”

Send Network SBTC: 

‘It’s been a great season’

The SBTC’s mission focus is to mobilize churches to multiply disciple-making movements in Texas and around the world. The Well Community Church in San Marcos is a great illustration of that.

Pastor Chris Millar gave testimony to the board about the vital role the SBTC has played in his journey from church member to church planter to leading The Well to become a church-planting church. That journey included getting connected to SBTC leaders through the annual collegiate Roundup event, connecting with SBTC pastors in college towns who encouraged and mentored him, and training that equipped him with the tools and training needed to reach people in San Marcos.

Now in its fourth year, The Well has baptized 60 people.

“I remember all the support that took place, all the relationships I had through the SBTC,” Millar said. “It was really as though there was this extended family of churches and people that said, ‘Chris, we’re going to come carry you.’ And the Lord really did carry us through that season.”

Julio Arriola, director of Send Network SBTC, said the SBTC’s partnership with the North American Mission Board is yielding a growing number of church plants like The Well across Texas each year—the result of God blessing faithful prayer and the convention’s unwavering commitment to “discover, develop, and deploy” pastors to launch new congregations.

Even so, there’s much more work to be done.

“It’s been a great season,” Arriola said. “The harvest is plentiful. Even though we’re seeing an increase in church planters, we need more laborers.”

Said SBTC Executive Director Nathan Lorick: “Not only are we seeing an increase in [churches planted], but we’re seeing momentum in planting. We’re seeing the energy of what God’s doing.”

Digital Editor
Jayson Larson
Southern Baptist Texan
Most Read

What does a special-needs family experience when they visit your church?

Editor’s note: The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention has designated July 14 as Disability Ministry Sunday. We walked up to the registration area for the children’s classes one Sunday at the church we were visiting in …

Stay informed on the news that matters most.

Stay connected to quality news affecting the lives of southern baptists in Texas and worldwide. Get Texan news delivered straight to your home and digital device.