Project Documents

Date of Award

2013

Document Type

Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

Russell Burrill

Second Advisor

Eduard Schmidt

Third Advisor

Hyveth Williams

Abstract

Problem. Recent statistics reveal that Texas has eight of the 15 most rapidly growing large cities in the United States. Annual growth rates for Texas are double the average for the rest of the United States. Due to a strong economy and a reasonable cost of living, both documented and undocumented immigration is on the rise. People in transition are more open to the gospel, but there needs to be a plan to reach them. Between 1995 and 2001, Texas added 18 churches (an average of only 2.6 churches per year). Based on 200 churches and companies, the average increase was only 1.3 percent per year. The addition of churches is not keeping pace with the population growth. This project seeks to develop a church planting strategy to reach Texas’ growing population.

Method. A strategy for church planting was initiated in the Texas Conference with an emphasis on lay-led churches that were pastor coached. Various methods of vision-casting were utilized to inspire church planting conference-wide. Support systems were developed to meet the needs of church planters and the church plants. The effectiveness of the project was evaluated through tracking growth trends, church plant survivability, and Natural Church Development (NCD) survey results.

Results. From 2002 to 2010, 114 new churches were planted in the Texas Conference. These church plants were worshipping every Sabbath at the close of the project in 2010. In 2010, a study was done of the churches started from 2002 to 2006. The survival rate was 87 percent. This exceeds the average of other denominations, which is 68 percent after four years. Healthy mother churches and consistent, quality coaching contributed to the high survivability. In 2009, new church plants (excluding groups in development) produced $3,669,548 in tithe and baptized 482 people. Extensive research was conducted by NCD International in Germany of established churches compared to church plants in the Texas Conference. Established churches had a cumulative average score of 50.8, which is slightly above the average of 50, while church plants had a cumulative average score of 66.7. A score above 65 places the level of health in the top 15 percent of all churches surveyed in the United States.

Conclusion. Church planting is evangelism at its best. It brings out the pioneering spirit and creates within those involved a greater dependency on God. Taking territory for God will incite enemy attack. These obstacles become an opportunity to witness God working powerfully. Strategy is good and necessary, but God-dependence is better. As a conference, the most important role is to provide a support system for those engaged in this frontline work. Ensuring the involvement of a mother church, providing a consistent coaching relationship with a supportive pastor, offering ongoing training, and expressing appreciation, all go a long way to show church planters that they are well supported. This partnership of conference, pastor, and lay leaders can and will result in great advances for God’s kingdom.

Future. Development Following the close of this project in 2010, further resources were developed to enhance the support of church planting. In 2011, I completed a church planting manual entitled Steps to Church Planting: From Inception to Launch. This tool assists core groups during their incubation period, as they develop their church plant strategy ahead of their opening Sabbath. In 2012, a training program for church plant coaches was introduced: “Church Plant Coaching Certification.” The certification involves a six month follow-up in the local field coaching a church planter and church plant. Further resources are yet to be developed, including a workshop on bi-vocational church planting and church-planter assessment. Visit nadei.org for the latest developments.

Subject Area

Church development, New--Texas--Seventh-day Adventists, Church growth--Seventh-day Adventists

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