Dr. J.D. Payne visited Utah recently to discuss sharing Christ, starting churches, and strengthening churches (the mission of the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Association). I had the privilege of hearing him speak on these matters as well as interviewing Dr. Payne, Russ Robinson, AdamMadden, and Dr. Travis Kerns on the topic of church planting after the conference. Dr. Payne serves as the Pastor of Multiplication at the Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama. He also served on staff with the North American Mission Board and was an Associate Professor at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He's been an editor of missional magazines and journals, served on missional boards and associations, served as a pastor of five churches, worked to plant four churches, and has written books to include Missional House Churches: Reaching Our Communities with the Gospel, The Barnabas Factors: Eight Essential Practices of Church Planting Team Members, Discovering Church Planting: An Introduction to the Whats, Whys, and Hows of Global Church Planting, Evangelism: A Biblical Response to Today’s Questions, Strangers Next Door: Immigration, Migration, and Mission, Roland Allen: Pioneer of Spontaneous Expansion, Kingdom Expressions: Trends Influencing the Advancement of the Gospel, and Pressure Points: Twelve Global Issues Shaping the Face of the Church." The more complex a church," argued Payne, "the less it will be reproducible." Unlike many church planting books, Payne didn't argue for one specific model or one specific level of complexity, but instead challenged his listeners to think about the starting point. He took his audience through the biblical picture of planting churches; that is, making disciples and then gathering them together to be the church. Instead of criticizing big, complex church that takes millions of dollars and lots of people to reproduce somewhere else as 'instant church,' he pointed out that while that's biblically permissible, it is difficult and really not normative. But neither did he advocate that the only way to start churches is in homes with nothing but new believers and a pastor recently raised up from among them.
"Before we can discuss church planting," Dr. Payne opened with, "we need to understand what it is we are planting." His starting point was extremely refreshing. He spent nearly an hour simply looking at what Jesus meant when he said 'Church.' We examined at what the local church looked like in Acts and the Epistles. And it wasn't the process of planting or entering an unchurched community that we explored, but simply church. What is church? What is local church? What is the big C Church? "How we answer these questions determines how and what we plant," said Dr. Payne. I believe he is absolutely correct.
Dr. Payne sat down with a pastor from First Baptist Provo, a pastor from Christ Fellowship, the Salt Lake City SEND City Coordinator, and me to record a Salty Believer Unscripted podcast on the topic of church planting. He was extremely informative, and really, just an easy going guy. We laughed and joked and he was extremely gracious when I got his name wrong. (Thanks J.D., that was really embarrassing but you were much easier on me than I deserved! )
If you're interested in starting churches and making disciples (or if you just want to hear me make a boob of myself), I highly encourage you to check it out here:
Learn more about J.D. Payne, download free books, and keep up with what he's doing at www.JDPayne.org. Also, you can find this podcast and many others like it as well as many other resources at www.SaltyBeliever.com in the Resources section and you can subscribe to Salty Believer Unscripted on iTunes.