Seminary Elective


Part 1 – From Microsoft to Ministry

My goal in seminary was to get out as fast as I could – haha!

Not that I didn’t love seminary. I just loved ministry so much! I had been a part of a thriving college ministry & putting all of that on hold for a few years to do seminary was tough.

I would max out the number of classes they’d let me take per semester at Southwestern. Then, I’d enroll in Southern to take more classes on top of those. I think my usual semester was 20+ hours of classes. The Masters of Divinity is typically a 4 year degree but I plowed through in about 2 years. I definitely don’t recommend that! Like I said, I was just eager to get back to ministry & I thought seminary was a part of what I needed to get back on that track.

In my last semester of seminary I needed one more elective. I didn’t really care what it was, I just needed to take one more class. Most of the electives that were offered I had already taken & the only one I remember being available was an elective called Church Planting. I thought it was a class on botany. Learning to plant flowers at churches. I really had no idea what that was about. Where I was from no one really planted churches, or at least no one that I knew of. There were already tons of churches in the city, why would someone plant another one? I’m sure that’s what I was thinking at the time.

I enrolled in this class & I realized it was about starting new churches. We read a book called Starting Reproducing Congregations that the professor had written and I was intrigued by what I read. Later that semester we attended a Church Planting Conference at a church in the area called Northwood Church.

They were talking about the concept of “simple churches.”

Simple structure. No elaborate buildings or monster budgets. They met in homes, gyms, businesses, etc. Anywhere really.

Ordinary leadership. You didn’t have to have extraordinary speaking gifts or a lifetime of experience to start one. You didn’t even have to have a seminary degree. You could just be ordinary.

Reproducible. Their simplicity allowed them to multiply quickly.

Listening to the presentation, I was totally in awe. I had never heard of anything like that before.

I remember sitting there at that conference & hearing the Lord whisper to me, “I want you to start a church like that.”

What?!?!?! Me? I could never do that. How would I provide for my family? Where would we meet? What would we do? Really, Lord? Me?!?!

The impression on my heart was so strong that I told my wife when I got back to our apartment. I figured she’d think I was crazy. I was shocked by her response.

She said, “I think the Lord is leading us to do that too.”

Oh gosh! Now it’s getting serious!

This was just supposed to be an elective. It wasn’t supposed to change the direction of my life.

Now what?

I had no idea how to plant a church. I didn’t know what to do next.

As I was sitting in my seminary’s chapel service one day, I saw a brochure with an advertisement on it about a church in Fort Worth that devoted itself to planting churches. It said that a guy named Sam Douglass was one of the pastors. I kept that flyer & decided to call him & ask him if he’d help me figure out how to start a new church.

I remember driving north on Bryant Irvin Rd in Fort Worth across I-20 when Sam answered the phone. I shared with him the story I shared with you & asked if he would help me. He said he’d be glad to.

We started meeting weekly at a donut shop off McCart Ave in Fort Worth & he began to coach me. He asked where I thought I wanted to plant this church & I told him either Frisco, TX or Round Rock, TX.

Then he asked me a question that I wasn’t expecting.

“Have you considered going back home to Lubbock?” he asked.

Lubbock?!?! No way!

Doesn’t it say in the Bible that a prophet isn’t accepted in his hometown? haha!

Lubbock had never crossed my mind. I’m not really sure why. I just assumed that Lubbock had enough churches and didn’t need another one.

Sam encouraged me to do some research on the number of people that go to church in Lubbock & at least pray about it. So that’s what I did. I was shocked to find that most people in Lubbock don’t go to church, especially people in their 20s, which was my age at the time.

My wife & I decided that we’d drive back to Lubbock & spend some time praying about whether or not the Lord would want us to go back there. After driving around the city praying, we felt certain that the Lord was leading us to come back to my hometown to start a church.

We moved back to Lubbock in March of 2007 and started meeting in our home.

Soon we outgrew our home and moved into multiple homes.

Then we started meeting monthly in a skating rink.

We had our Grand Opening in September of 2007 and had over 300 people come.

The church started pretty “simple” like I had learned about at that conference, but somewhere along the way, we lost the “simple” vision and became very complex.

Staff. Budgets. Buildings. Services. Crowds. Lights. Cameras. Campuses.

It was exciting, but it wasn’t simple. It had lost its ability to easily reproduce.

Part 3 – Simple to Complex