In this 4 part series, we’re are considering the planting of new churches as a means of tackling the evangelism problem among Southern Baptist churches. Here are the previous posts:
- Evangelism and Church Planting
- Church Planting as a Response to the Problem
- Church Planting and Revitalization
If church planting is an effective method of evangelism, then we need to give attention to strengthening our church planting efforts. In 2007, the Center for Missional Research produced the “Church Plant Survivability and Health Study,” assessing the factors contributing to growth and survivability of SBC plants. One of the study’s central criteria is baptism numbers. Factors associated with higher baptisms included: conducting new member’s classes, having members sign a church covenant, and lead planters being assessed prior to planting.
Training and Development. This is an important factor in new church plants. Some key points include:
- Churches that invest in the next generation, through leadership training, especially for those committed to planting churches, report high baptism numbers.
- Of those church planters who provided leadership training to church members, 79% of their churches survived compared to only 59% of church plants survived among those who did not provide leadership training.
- Churches that invest in leadership training—raising up leaders from within—possess a 250% higher success rate!
While this study’s findings are significant in many ways, the concept of equipping the next generation should not surprise us; it’s biblical. Indeed, it was Paul’s dying imperative. His commands to Timothy such as “fight the good fight,” “guard the good deposit,” and “continue in what you have learned” emphasize the importance of Timothy prioritizing future ministry. In one sense, all of these commands, including the qualifications for elders and deacons, find their significance under the rubric of “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach other also” (1 Tim. 2:2). If we as Southern Baptists are going to see our evangelistic efforts turn around, we must invest in the next generation. We must equip leaders.
Here at Southeastern, we recognize the significance of this. One such way we train future leaders is through our EQUIP network. The purpose of the EQUIP center is to bring theological education and training into the local church. We are committed to raising up the next generation for the advancement of the Great Commission. We see the EQUIP network as a strategic way to take Paul’s commands serious.
Below is a summation of the EQUIP network.
To partner with local churches and para-church organizations to provide practical theological training through internship.
SEBTS seeks to identify local churches and para-church organizations that have internship programs which reflects a commitment to our mission to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission. Our goals are:
- To provide the highest level of theological training in conjunction with local churches and para-church organizations;
- To provide opportunities for churches and organizations to help students who are called to the ministry begin, continue or complete their theological education while firmly tied to local ministry;
- To develop healthy, working relationships between SEBTS and church/para-church.
- To develop the EQUIP as a network of mutually edifying relationships in which all participants communicate, encourage, teach, and challenge one another.