Wednesday, July 26, 2006

"Seven Questions with Dr. Dan Morgan"

1. What were some of the key issues that led you to serve a professor at a Southern Baptist Seminary?

I understand my calling to be the equipping of young leaders, especially to extend the Kingdom through starting new churches. The Nehemiah Project provided a unique opportunity to use my Ph.D and continue to equip, train, and coach young Southern Baptist leaders for this important initiative. It seemed a good fit to who I am, my training, experience, and calling.

2. What is your greatest passion?

Seeing young leaders come alive as they realize that God has equipped and called them to start new churches. Often, those God equips for starting things from scratch are easily bored by the routines of church ministry, making them quickly restless in most jobs. They think that the problem is them, when actually the issue is finding the appropriate place of service. Church planters tend to think, “Why not try this new way of doing things?” when their pastor or other leader is thinking, “Just do the job and stop making waves!” They often are seen as too chaotic and difficult to lead – not a desirable staff member. I love to help them discover their calling, and challenge them to go to the frontier and start something new.

3. In your opinion what is the main thing that must happen in the SBC to build momentum for Kingdom growth over the next 5 years.

I think one of the key issues we face is how to hand off the stewardship of our theological and denominational heritage from the current generation of leaders to the younger leaders who, in my opinion, have a good understanding of how to reach their generation and extend the Kingdom in a post-Christendom North America. Much of the “handoff” will occur, if it occurs at all, in the next five years.

Another issue I feel strongly about is the expansion of efforts to plant new churches. From information I glean off of Barna’s studies, in the 1990’s evangelical Christianity lost ground compared to net population growth by over 1,000,000 souls per year. Many of those people live in places where there aren’t many SBC churches, so it is not just a matter of reviving the 75% of our churches that are plateaued and declining. We must revitalize our will to plant more, and a variety of kinds, of churches. We may debate the “how” and I have my own ideas on that, but the need is clear.

4. In your opinion, should a person feeling called to the pastorate consider first church planting before considering serving in a tradition church? What are some signs that God may be calling a person into church planting?

I think effective church planters have a special call to start churches. I do think everyone needs to be assessed to help them find their proper role in extending the Kingdom of God. The kinds of spiritual gifting that often show up in people who turn out to be effective church planters include faith, apostleship, evangelism, teaching, prophecy. This doesn’t mean others can’t plant, but I have observed that when a person is working outside their gifting and leadership style it drains them rather than refreshes them. It is difficult to sustain this energy draining experience long enough to stabilize a church without the planter getting “burned out” Some indications we look for when we assess for church planters are a history of starting things (clubs, Bible studies, new organizations or initiatives), and a history of faith-based risk taking that resulted in positive spiritual fruit. We look for people with a strong prayer life and answered prayers. We look for people who consistently lead others to faith in Christ. We recognize people with a “holy restlessness” that keeps them moving on to the next thing. These are a few.

5. If you could give one word of encouragement to every Baptist minister what would it be?

Don’t let the pressures of the day keep you from spending time with the Lord and showing his kindness to people (who probably don’t deserve it.) His redeeming grace is all I have to give and all I need to live.

6. If you were consulting a church on how to do a church plant, what advice would you give them?

The critical issue is always the leader. Their character first, then their aptitude for the job, then the adequacy of their training, and the experience of their coach. When you have the right man, who has the right plan in writing, trust him to his coach to get the job done.

7. What are some books or resource that you would recommend for a person or church considering church planting?

I suggest they go to and search books on the topic of “church planting” There are great “how to” books by Dr. Ed Stetzer, Dr. Aubrey Malphurs, and Dr. Daniel Sanchez that deal with planting in a North American context. There are specialty books dealing with House Churches, Cell Churches, Purpose-Driven Churches, Seeker-focused churches, Team-led churches, etc. I would not agree with all of their perspectives, but I have learned more about my craft by reading and reflecting on a variety of authors.

Dr. Dan Morgan is the Associate Professor of Missions and Director of Nehemiah Project at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.


Blogger Kevin Bussey said...

Did he use to be at Saddleback? I think he is the one who hooked me up with some church planting strategists.

Anonymous Alan Cross said...

I appreciate your 7 questions. He seems to be a good man who has a sincere desire to serve the Lord and equip young people. May God bless Him richly.


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