“You guys are everything. You need to understand this. The world is looking for truth, and you have the truth,” stated Dr. Dave Teis of Liberty Baptist Church (NV), pausing in front of the podium to scan the faces of those in the Lyceum. “Pastoring a church is not a 40-hour-a-week job; it is your life. Write this down if you didn’t last time—ministry is life, and life is ministry.”
Those faces belong to a group of ministerial men who meet together seven evenings during alternate spring semesters to hear from seasoned pastors and church planters.
As most of these students are nearing the end of their college career, some may be called to plant a church or assist a young, growing church. Before they do, the Church Planting Seminar (MI 412) allows these students to sit under preachers who have planted churches to hear their personal experiences firsthand. Dr. Teis, who had pastored Liberty Baptist for 42 years, and Pastor Jeremy Rowland (’96, M.A. ’98, M.Div. ’00), the general director of Baptist Church Planting Ministry (BCPM), both have spoken at Church Planting Seminar for several years.
Ethan Bramer (Jr., NY) has appreciated the scope of topics that speakers have been willing to discuss with the ministerial students. “Dr. Teis gave us his testimony of how he was able to plant his church and gave plenty of stories about God’s abundant supply,” he said. “It was amazing to see how God just continually answered prayer in both the preparation beforehand and in the actual church plant later.”
Pastor Ray McCormick (’97) is an alumnus who, after serving in evangelism, went on to plant a church—NewLife Baptist Church, which recently celebrated its fifth anniversary. “Church planting requires a lot of work and time, and balancing this with family and personal rest is essential. Each individual church planted should not be simply a ‘cookie-cutter’ representation of another but it should rather be a collage of the local culture, community, residents, and its pastor, all coming under the guidance of the Word of God,” he said. “It has been the most exhausting ministry I have ever been called to, but truly the most rewarding. I am so thankful God has called our family to plant the NewLife Baptist Church here in Casa Grande, Arizona. I’m looking forward to seeing what He will continue to do.”
After hearing Dr. Teis tell several accounts from his personal church planting history in MI 412, Jack Maciaszek (Sr., NC) was amazed at how challenging planting and growing a church can be over the years, but was glad to glean advice from the veteran pastor’s lectures. “One of the surprising things that I learned was the amount of buildings Dr. Teis transitioned from throughout the years in his church planting process,” he said. “Beyond just how informative [the seminar] is, it is super spiritually encouraging and refreshing to hear trained and experienced men of God come in and help prepare and sharpen perspectives on being a church planter.”
“Church planting is not only the sharing of the gospel; it also involves discipleship and training new Christians how to reproduce themselves spiritually by sharing the gospel with others,” said Dr. Rob Small, the instructor of Church Planting Seminar. “If our ministerial students can understand and apply the principles from this class, they will be well-equipped to fulfill the Great Commission in their generation. It presents a biblical philosophy of church planting and an overview of procedures and guidelines for establishing an independent Baptist church. It presents methods by which a reproducing church can plant a church.”
Over the last 19 years, Pastor Jeremy Rowland has assisted with planting over 60 churches with BCPM. He encouraged the ministerial students in planning ahead and knowing when to transition from a planting mindset to a growing one. “Whether a ministerial student is being led to be a pastor, evangelist, or missionary, a biblical and practical understanding of church planting can help them be more involved and be more of a blessing to establish new church plants,” he said. “The more churches we have, the more missionaries are called, the more finances we have, and the more of the world will be reached. Church planting is God’s agent to reach the world. It is my desire to teach on church planting so that the ministerial students will have a greater burden to reach the world, one church plant at a time!”
The ministerial men of MI 412 are looking toward a possible future in church planting. As they attend the seminar, these students are encouraged and reminded that they are not alone in ministry, but are among friends who are willing to lend a hand. They are shown how those who have gone before have listened to sage advice in making a new church known, gathering a congregation, and building relationships in a community.
“This seminar helps you to catch the burden for church planting,” said Ethan. “I’ve heard throughout my college career just how scarce solid, Bible-preaching churches are and now, because of this seminar I’m hearing from those who started church plants and assisted in church plants. It was a real reminder that God is still faithful and He is still willing and able to provide for all of our needs as we seek to serve Him.”