Week’s emphasis urges ministers to consider church-planting careers

by Joe David Smith, posted Thursday, April 22, 1999 (19 years ago)

NEW ORLEANS (BP)--"There are few things in our life that are worth our life. The one thing that is worth our life is the kingdom of God," said a veteran church planter.

Scott Weatherford, pastor of Parkway Baptist Church, Victoria, Texas, challenged students at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary to be kingdom-minded, not career-focused, when planting churches and seeking church growth.

Weatherford, an NOBTS alumnus whose church in southeastern Texas has grown from 38 to 1,750 in six years, highlighted a week of chapel services devoted to a church-planting emphasis.

One method Weatherford uses to facilitate church growth is cell groups meeting in homes throughout the Victoria area. Currently more than 700 people are meeting in some 50 groups during the week.

Weatherford gave five traits of pastors of growing churches he has observed during his 14 years in the ministry:

-- Vision: "What you see is what you get, and what you see for the church is what [that church] becomes," Weatherford said. "Every decision becomes a destination."

-- Risk-taking: The trademark of a minister, he said, is a willingness to "put it all on the line" for the kingdom. "What we need is common sense enough to realize that 'if God is for us, who can be against us,' [so] there's really no risk in [church planting and church growth] at all."

-- Total dependence on God: "If we depend on a paycheck, on our knowledge, on our ability or on our talent, then we're not depending on God," Weatherford said. "God is a come-through God. He wants us in a place where it's Jesus or nothing."

-- Transparency: "You have got to be real," Weatherford said. "Your people have got to see that you love them."

-- Servant's heart: "The days of dictatorial pastors are over," Weatherford said. "That attitude was never from the heart of God."

Also during the week, NOBTS assistant professor of evangelism Will McRaney conducted live speaker-phone interviews in chapel with NOBTS graduates and current church planters Jonathan Lee and Shawn Lovejoy. Lee is a pastor in Maryland, targeting the post-1960 generation. Lovejoy is in the process of lining up a ministry partner to begin a new work in Atlanta, targeting young couples.

"These guys have faith to follow God in what he has them doing," McRaney said. "Sometimes we have to take risks and move out of very comfortable positions."

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