Liberty Church Planting Network agrees to formalize partnership

Liberty Church Planting Network agrees to formalize partnership with Boston Church Planting

LYNCHBURG, VA – God is calling men to plant churches in Boston. And whether by convention, association, network, or by blood, sweat and tears, Joe Souza is praying every day for God to deliver also the relationships that result in support for those who are called.

A little more of God’s plan was revealed, and many of Souza’s prayers answered, in Lynchburg, VA Tuesday morning as the Liberty Church Planting Network (LCPN) agreed to move ahead with the process to formalize a partnership with Boston Church Planting.

“These guys are already doing what we want to do,” said LCPN Director Ryan Jones as he introduced Souza to the Board. “So, I wanted Joe to come and tell us how we can work together.”

Asking Souza to talk about his Boston Church Planting team is like asking a dad to talk about his kids. And talk Souza did, describing first the training and mentoring piece Jones was referring to.

“We have a good thing going,” Souza said. “We just want to see more church planters coming to Boston. And we are prepared now, better than ever, to receive them and plug them into our training; to help them figure out what they need to know about the New England culture. Contextualization.

“We hook the guy up to the church plant that most looks like what he is going to do. And in the process he is getting hands-on experience. He builds up his core group, or works together with his team. And we have seen in anywhere from six month to a year he is ready to go and launch publicly. That is the strategy that has paid off.”

It is a strategy for training and supporting church planters in Boston that the LCPN was looking for. Its core activity is assessing, mentoring, training, funding and sending usually first-time church planters. The LCPN employs a formal, three-day trainings plus ongoing, one-on-one mentoring in its established training centers in Raleigh, NC and in Washington, DC.

The Network – which was founded in 1980 by Dr. Jerry Falwell and has funded hundreds of church plants all over the country – already has one seasoned planter in Boston. He is Liberty grad Josh Wyatt of Charles River Church. And the LCPN is planning soon to send another fully-funded planter from Liberty to work with Wyatt and eventually plant out of Charles River Church.

So why not think about about a regional training center in Boston? Exactly.

“You have articulated exactly what our heartbeat is,” said LCPN Board President, Brian Mentzer of Riverdale Baptist Church in Upper Marlboro, MD. “We want to see more hubs and partnerships. I am all in, I think everybody around the table is all in. I think it’s awesome.”

Board Member Larry Lamberth, of Harvest Baptist Church in Burlington, NC, provided maybe the ah-ha moment of the meeting. ‘So you don’t want our money?” he asked.

“No,” exclaimed Souza, speaking as Boston’s North American Mission Board representative and Lead Church Planting Catalyst. “In fact we have money for your guys. We can put funding alongside the funding you are providing. We also have internship money and apprenticeships, and often special funding for certain advertising campaigns and help for outreach events too. We just want to do what works.”

Next, the question everyone had been waiting for: “What about our guys who are not [partnering with the] SBC? Can they still plug into the training center?” asked Lamberth.

Souza responded with a quick and definitive yes. “We are all about reaching the 99 / 98 percent of our neighbors who are dying and going to hell every day. So we are not going to sit around and hang on our differences as much as we are going to try and plug those guys in with a group of guys who can keep them on track and help them succeed, especially when we know they are coming through your assessment, having walked with you guys for five / six months, sometimes a year. That is awesome.

“We will let those guys know what is available, and work with them to make our funds available to them, but be sure, all of our guys have committed to the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 and are contributing at least six percent to the Cooperative Program.”

Finally, as the meeting drew to a close the Board expressed its unanimous approval and even offered a number of ways it would help promote Boston Church Planting to Liberty students and others.

After the meeting, Souza sighed and reflected, “man, God is just awesome. I am so excited about what He is doing. It is so much bigger than you or I can even imagine.”

Souza said the next step is to keep doing what they are already doing to work with the LCPN, and to provide them with a formal covenant which should be reviewed and signed jointly sometime hopefully in June. [clear /]
Contact Boe Ellis of Boston Church Planting at bellis@bostonchurchplanting.com or by phone (919) 671-9871.