Two Man Model

Two-Man, Fully Funded, No Core Group Church Planting Model

Emmanuel Reformed Baptist Church, Georgetown, Texas

In January 2012, the elders of the Heritage Baptist Church (HBC) in Mansfield, Texas, and the elders of the Sovereign Grace Baptist Church (SGBC) in Ontario, California met in Dallas, Texas, to discuss the possibility of planting a church in Georgetown, Texas. Georgetown is approximately 160 miles south of Mansfield and about 25 miles north of Austin. Bob Curley had recently moved to Georgetown from California; he was a member of SGBC and had previously pastored the El Monte Reformed Baptist Church in El Monte, CA. The elders of SGBC and Bob had discussed planting a church in Georgetown, since there was no truly reformed Baptist church in the greater Austin area. Bob hired a part-time, temporary assistant and developed a project proposal for planting a church in Georgetown that required two men and commitment for full funding, if necessary, for up to five years. Bob and his assistant also developed a preliminary website. When the elders of the two churches met, they approved the project proposal and set in motion the steps to planting the church.

The funding was secured, and two qualified men were identified to plant the church. Steve Garrick from HBC and Bob Curley from SGBC, each having approximately 20 years of pastoral experience, were commissioned by their home churches to plant the Emmanuel Reformed Baptist Church in Georgetown. There was no core group, except Bob Curley, his wife and teenage son, and Steve Garrick and his wife. A detailed project plan was followed which specified milestones and target dates. The first thing to be completed was the website that would be used to announce the plan to start a reformed Baptist church in Georgetown and request people interested in this church plant to contact the church planters.

While working on the website, Bob Curley began looking for a meeting location and secured an agreement with the Georgetown Public Library to rent two of their meeting rooms on Sunday mornings.

The church planters met and talked frequently about strategy, logistics, division of labor, church administrative matters, order of worship, and many other issues that needed to be worked out. Since Bob and Steve had never worked together before, this was a very valuable and necessary process, because it enabled them to establish a real brotherhood characterized by both personal and working relationships. During these discussions, the decision was made to plant the church by conducting worship services on Sunday mornings at the very start. This contrasted with the typical model of conducting a Bible study for several months prior to initiating worship services. Informational meetings were scheduled for the last two weeks of June 2012. The first worship service was scheduled for the first Lord’s Day in July 2012.

The website was fully operational by March 2012. The website was listed in several online locations, such as ARBCA, Reformed Reader, Johnny Farese, etc. Inquiries were received the first week the website was activated. Inquiries were slow, one or two a week.

In June 2012, an extensive advertising campaign was launched in the greater Austin area. Ads were placed in the major Austin newspaper and in several local newspapers in four or five smaller towns within 25 miles of Georgetown. Radio advertisements were also broadcast on a conservative talk radio station for the last two weeks in June. All of the advertisements focused on driving people to the website. During June, there were 10 to 70 visits to the website a day, probably averaging around 20 visits a day.

Four informational meetings were conducted the last two weeks in June 2012. Three of these were held in the library, and one was held in a motel conference room. The church planters gave presentations explaining the church plant strategy, identifying the sponsoring churches and ARBCA, and discussing the distinctives of reformed Baptist churches. A total of approximately 50 people attended the informational meetings. Those who attended had several questions about what it meant to be a reformed Baptist church, how it would be different than others churches, and the specifics of the plan for starting a church. The church planters answered questions and also had a literature table of free books and other publications to hand out.

The first worship service was conducted on July 8, 2012. There was a total of 56 people present including 14 from HBC and 42 from the community. The response was much more than was expected and greatly encouraged the church planters and the sponsoring churches. During June, July, and August, only a worship service was offered that started at 10:00 a.m. Beginning in September, a Christian Education Hour was added at 9:30 a.m. and the worship service was rescheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m.

In addition to Steve Garrick and his wife, four other members of HBC have traveled to Georgetown every Lord’s Day (about a 3 hr. trip one-way) to provide the piano music, lead the singing, and operate the nursery. Their help has been invaluable.

During this time, Steve Garrick preached a series of messages on the doctrine of the church. With the beginning of the Christian Education Hour, Steve Garrick taught an overview of the Baptist Confession of 1689. The church planters wrote and published a pamphlet titled Pathway to Church Membership and Becoming a Church, in order to give the people who were attending information about plans and directions for the future.

Subsequently, the church planters drafted bylaws and presented them on two consecutive Lord’s Days during the Christian Education Hour for explanation, discussion, and suggestions. The bylaws were also submitted to the elders of the sponsoring churches for their comments and recommendations. The bylaws were later revised, based on the discussions and recommendations, and presented once again during a Christian Education Hour for final review and suggestions.

In March 2013, applications for membership were made available to all those who were attending services at ERBC. The church planters jointly interviewed the applicants during May and June 2013.

On July 14, 2013, Larry Vincent from HBC and Jeffrey Massey from SGBC led the Christian Education Hour. Larry Vincent gave a presentation concerning the eldership and officially nominated Steve Garrick for the eldership at ERBC. Jeffrey Massey read a commendation of Bob Curley from SGBC and officially nominated Bob for the eldership at ERBC. Also, on July 14, 2013, ERBC conducted its first baptismal service. The Historic Sanctuary of the Main Street Baptist Church in Georgetown was rented for a special evening service. Bob Curley preached the sermon and Steve Garrick baptized the three men who God had saved in previous years, but who had not been Biblically baptized.

On July 20, 2013, a constituting service will be conducted on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. The elders from both sponsoring churches will travel to Georgetown to participate in the service. During this service, the prospective members will enter into covenant together as a church by reading and signing the church covenant. Following the signing of the covenant, the church will vote on the bylaws and on the election of elders. There will also be a charge to the church and a charge to the elders that will be preached by elders from the sponsoring churches. ERBC will celebrate the Lord’s Supper for the first time on July 21, 2013, the first Lord’s Day after the constituting service.

This is a very brief description of the work involved in planting this church and of the major events and activities connected with the work. The decisions made by the church planters resulted in both a division of labor and a sharing of labor. Initially, one man carried the responsibility for most of the preaching and teaching, and the other man handled most of the administrative, financial, and logistical work, as well as most of the personal contacts and follow-up with visitors. One man selected the Scripture readings and the confessional readings; the other man prepared and printed the bulletins. Both men shared the responsibility for leading the worship service; one man preached, read the benediction, and prayed the closing prayer, while the other man read the Scripture readings for the call to worship, the Law, the Gospel, and the confessions of sin and faith, and prayed the pastoral/corporate prayer. One man stored and transported all the supplies and equipment needed to set up the Library room for the services. Both men worked with other men and women to set up the room in the library for study and worship. Both men greeted and talked with those who attended after the service. Both men counted the weekly offerings together; one man made the deposits and supervised the maintenance of the bookkeeping and the bank accounts, as well as paid the bills. One man drafted the bylaws; the other man revised the draft. Both men approved the revised draft. One man presented the draft of the bylaws to the attendees; both men answered questions about the draft. Both men worked on making changes to the bylaws and developing a final draft; one man presented the final draft to the attendees and the sponsoring churches. One man drafted the application for membership, the other man revised it, and both men approved the final draft. Both men collected and read the applications. One man scheduled the interviews with the applicants, and, together, both men interviewed the applicants. While one man has performed the lion’s share of the teaching and preaching, the other man preached for almost three months during October into December and for five weeks in June and July while the other man took vacation as well as a three week break from teaching and preaching. Both men handle critical, confidential issues and problems together. Both men discuss services, needs of individuals, as well as events, plans, and progress weekly. One of the men hosts a weekly fellowship lunch in his home after the worship service each Lord’s Day, and the other man brings food and plays a significant role in providing fellowship and hospitality during the lunches. One man supervises the music ministry and those involved in leading the worship in song; the other man makes arrangements for a pianist when the volunteer pianist is absent. Difficult issues and decisions are handled by both men as they pray together about the matters and spend much time in discussion and email correspondence to share their experience, knowledge, ideas, and beliefs concerning each matter. This process provides much strength, encouragement, confidence, and wisdom to the church planters. They do not have to struggle through such situations without the benefit of having someone else actually sharing the concern, the deliberations, and the responsibility.

The benefits and advantages of two men working together to plant a church are enormous and cannot be realized simply by the provision of advice, occasional visits from elders of a sponsoring church, and occasional relief from the pulpit ministry for vacation or other necessary absences. The brotherhood of shared ministry and responsibility multiplies and enhances the gifts of both men, and keeps them both in better spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical condition to perform the arduous tasks involved in planting a church.