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Churches planting churches: tracing a legacy of multiplication in Boerne

September 3rd, 2020 / By: Rob Collingsworth / comments

Churches planting churches: tracing a legacy of multiplication in Boerne

John Free (left), pastor of Currey Creek Baptist Church, speaks with Jared Patrick, pastor of The Bridge Fellowship in Boerne. Currey Creek sent out 20 percent of its membership to the new church plant.

For many visitors to The Bridge Fellowship—a church plant in Boerne, just outside of San Antonio—the church’s story begins at their hard launch on Sep. 13. But for pastor Jared Patrick, things began two years ago when he was serving on staff at Currey Creek Baptist Church under pastor John Free.

“One day in March of 2018 John came in and said it’s time to plant a church,” Patrick said. “My heart sank, and I knew I was supposed to go plant that church.”

Patrick had been on staff at Currey Creek since 2013 overseeing adults, groups and missions when, after hearing the vision for reproduction, he sensed the Lord was calling him to lead the plant Free had talked about. 

“I started praying about it, and I went and talked to John and said, ‘I think I’m supposed to plant that church,’” Patrick said. “He confirmed it right then, and we started moving.

“Long story short, we announced it to the church, and Currey Creek just gave me a lot of time to dream and to plan, where would we plant it, how would it be different than Currey Creek. And so we did. We put all that together and announced it to the church in February and started getting momentum,” Patrick added. 

Free, who began his career in ministry as a church planter, said he has long dreamed of planting churches from health rather than from division or disagreement.

“Back in 1990 when I finished from Southwestern I went to New Mexico to do a 10-week church planting exercise, and that led to me going back with the Home Mission Board as a church planter apprentice, which is a two-year program. After that, the church called me as pastor. 

“I was sitting in my office one day,” Free said, “thinking, ‘Man, I’ve got this seminary degree but I don’t really have any idea how to plant a church.’ I just said, if I’m ever in a position to be a senior pastor of a larger church, I’m going to bring people in and equip them to be senior pastors and then, if the Lord calls them to plant churches, that’s what I’m going to do.”

It turns out that Free would have just that opportunity, both as a planter and as a sponsor. Twenty years ago he was hired at First Baptist Boerne under pastor Bubba Stahl, who had a similar vision for building up a healthy church and sending out a plant. Stahl’s vision to grow a church and plant from health led to Free planting Currey Creek in 2001.

And now, Free’s initial vision as a young church planter has finally come to fruition as Currey Creek sends out The Bridge Fellowship, its first church plant.

Although the timing has been affected by the pandemic, Patrick said there has been an overwhelming response to the vision of The Bridge Fellowship.

“We had our first interest meeting in March and there were about 220 people there,” he said, “and then COVID hit and just shut everything down.”

Patrick said that the strategy has had to pivot, as they were forced to delay the launch schedule, but they continued to have interest meetings online. As of August, attendance was up to 320—before they even opened the doors for the first time.

Much of this is comprised of a group being sent out by Currey Creek itself, including 20 percent of their current membership.

“Currey Creek is sending out a lot of people and resources to go start this church. They believe in church planting. It’s a really fun story that’s kind of happening the next several weeks,” Patrick said, “as Currey Creek is becoming parents, and First Baptist is becoming grandparents. There’s just this really rich heritage here in Boerne of church planting and cooperation among churches to move and to multiply.”

According to Free, even before the time came, it was important that Currey Creek make plans to resource their plant as much as possible, both with finances and with people. “By God’s grace our church is generous. We shared the vision that we were going to plant a church by 2021—we don’t know where yet, we don’t know who yet—but we’re going to start setting aside money and be deliberate about that,” Free said.

And when Patrick first presented his plan regarding staffing some months ago, Free insisted that instead of cobbling together a handful of part-time employees, the sending church would make available the resources for a full-time “right hand man.”

“Someone who can do all those things that either one, he’s not good at, or two, he’s not called to.” Free said.

Both Free and Patrick emphasized the SBTC’s help in the planting process, specifically with the assessment process Patrick went through with his wife, Meredith.

“It was something we were certainly nervous about, but it ended up being life-giving,” Patrick said, “Now we’re through the process and we are connected with great church planters around Texas that have become confidantes and, really, friends. We don’t feel isolated, we don’t feel like we’re on our own. We have found our tribe, which is really great.”

Patrick also added how helpful the commitment of resources has been.

“There is no doubt that we have the momentum we have partly because of the SBTC’s financial support and their commitment for three years for us, which is huge.”

The Reach Texas Missions Offering is one of the most important avenues by which the convention is able to provide such support for plants like The Bridge Fellowship. To find out more visit:
sbtexas.com/reachtexas.