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September began a new chapter in the life of Denton Baptist Association. We launched the first cohort session of the Church Planter Residency program on Monday, September 16. This one-year program will challenge, train and prepare future church planters and provide them with key competencies for a biblically-based successful ministry.
The competencies were developed in conjunction with the North American Mission Board, Southern Baptist of Texas Convention and the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Each group’s requirements were evaluated and placed strategically in our yearlong training.
Once the competencies were identified, the Church Planter Curriculum Team sought out knowledgeable individuals within our association to write the material. Twenty-two different leaders were commissioned to write a curriculum addressing a specific aspect.
The material was divided up into three parts that I refer to as a three-legged stool. The first leg is cohort training. This group gathers twice a month for a time of formal training. Each session is facilitated by one of the ministers who has either written the material or been trained in using it. Participants are required to read, and complete exercises that help them to develop a prospectus and plan for a new church plant.
The second component of the training is the mentoring leg of the stool. The writers have developed material for a supervising pastor to use when he meets one-on-one with his church planter. They will meet 4x a month. The participant may be required to read an article, develop a sermon, create a budget, or design a leadership pipeline that will be presented to the pastor for a time of discussion and evaluation. The participant is also required to work at least 10 hours per week at the partnering church.
Retreats make up the third leg of the training. They will provide concentrated weekends of study for the husband and wife. These retreats will focus on the calling and the marriage of the couple.
The three components that make up the stool have been developed in conjunction with our national and state conventions who are also partially funding the program. NAMB provided training and materials to 8 of our facilitators at a fraction of the cost. Both state conventions have agreed to fund a stipend for up to one year to the residents planting with them.
We are confident that this training will result in more successful church starts. During my six years at DBA, there have been successful church plants, but there have also been some that were forced to discontinue for a variety of reasons. The Church Planter Residency program will provide a stronger stool for the planter to stand on. As we see more successful church plants, more people will be reached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ!