In 1998 the Southwest Church Planting Network was formed to make expanding the Kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, a high priority in the Southwest region—covering the states of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma and the northwest corner of Louisiana.
In its first fourteen years this pioneering ministry on the frontier of the PCA planted 55 churches and 13 RUF chapters. The Network, by God’s grace, fulfilled its original goal to plant 50 new churches and initiate 10 RUF ministries at major colleges across the Southwest.
Today, we comprise 75 churches representing over 18,000 members voluntarily coming together to fulfill a bold, Gospel vision. Consequently, the Network is strategically positioned in terms of visionary leadership, opportunity and resources to plan for the future and become an even greater vehicle for Kingdom expansion in our region.
Most of the churches in the Network are relatively young. Many are only a few years old, and many have been planted by other participating churches in the Network. We are faced with the challenge of growing our own churches while planting others. Some may see this as an overwhelming task, but we view it as an opportunity for great faith.
The Network has the support of the Mission to North America (MNA) or Missions Committees of all four Presbyteries as well as the Missions to North America Committee of the General Assembly (MNA/GA) in Atlanta. The Network activities do not replace either of these organizations but instead enhance their efforts and accelerate the building of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. The MNA (or Missions) Committees of the Presbyteries still act independently and have budgets of their own for church planting and RUF work that is not addressed by the Network. Part of the commitment that a church makes to participate in the Network is that it will annually contribute .75% of its operating budget to their local Presbytery for its ongoing work.
There are three major objectives of the Network:
- Identifying and training leaders
- Planting churches and new RUF chapters
- Nurturing new plants until full maturity
The Network, prior to moving ahead with implementation or publicity, must do the following:
- Notify the appropriate Presbytery MNA or Missions Committee as soon as a new church plant or a new RUF chapter is being seriously contemplated.
- Consult with the Sessions of other PCA churches near the proposed target area.
- Receive site approval from the appropriate Presbytery.
- In the case of a church plant, receive Presbytery MNA or Missions Committee approval of the philosophy of ministry.
- Receive Presbytery MNA or Missions Committee approval of the business plan.
- Arrange for an interview of the organizing pastor or RUF candidate with the Presbytery MNA or Missions Committee and receive their endorsement of the candidate.
- Ensure all candidates satisfy the credential requirements through the Candidates and Examinations Committee of the appropriate Presbytery.
- Send copies of advertisements that will employ the PCA name and logo to the appropriate Presbytery MNA or Missions Committee.
- Report twice each year to each Presbytery’s MNA or Missions Committee in person and twice each year in writing.
Each church needs to look at their participation as at least a three year commitment since the Network will be establishing support obligations that stretch over multiple years.
The subcommittee operates according to Standing Rules and reports to the MNA (or Missions) Committees of all four Presbyteries on a regular basis.
A church participating in the Network must select an elder (ruling or teaching) to serve on the joint subcommittee that has a heart for church planting. It would be ideal if this elder has some first hand experience in the process or has a particular discipline that would be helpful to nurture and assist new churches. Those elders, selected by each church, serve at the pleasure of their respective Presbyteries. It is desirable that an individual be willing to serve for a minimum of two years and be able to regularly attend joint subcommittee meetings that meet at least twice a year.
For More information about the Network, you can contact us here.