Executive Board member plants church in Springfield
By Allen Palmeri
August 12, 2003
SPRINGFIELD – Jeff White, a member of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Executive Board, is doing his part to help the convention reach its goal of 60 new church plants in 2003.
White and his fellow elder, Justin Nelson, planted South Creek Church on April 20 in Springfield. A mission of Evergreen Church, Springfield, South Creek has grown from four to 50 in attendance.
White said the church, which is theologically conservative, is being built on five philosophical points: a high view of God; a sufficient view of Scripture; a low view of man; a correct view of the church; and a respectful view of leadership.
How did he arrive at those five points?
"The Bible," he said.
"We are non-traditional in our methodology."
That means South Creek is trying to do church the way that W.B. Johnson, the first president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), did church. Johnson argued for the practice of having a plurality of elders to be recognized as biblical and to be followed in more Baptist churches.
"I think W.B Johnson and I would have been good friends," White said.
White said he is learning more about having a correct view of the church from Paige Patterson, former SBC president and newly elected president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.
Patterson has identified the practice of Southern Baptists letting some deacons function like elders when they are not biblically qualified to do so as one of two evils to befall the SBC in the last 100 years. The other evil, according to Patterson, is failing to do church discipline the way it is taught in Matthew 18.
White, 38, and Nelson, 28, are elders in the tradition of elders found in Baptist churches in America throughout the 18th century and into the 19th century, White said. Under this form of government, South Creek has been growing at a rate of about one family a week, he added.
White and Nelson have different spiritual gifts. They are 10-year ministry partners who divide the pastoral care. Neither is drawing a salary.
White is the teaching pastor, but Nelson is not the associate pastor. White was in that role for 6½ years previously at another MBC church. South Creek is not set up that way.
"I’m not the senior pastor," White said.
White said he has been working through his five points on how to do church for 17 years. He was called into the preaching-teaching ministry when he was 21.
He said he never considered himself to be a church planter until this year, when God ordered the circumstances for this congregation to take root within the Greene County Baptist Association.
"They felt a real call to do what they’re doing, and a lot of hard work has gone into it," said Ken McCune, an MBC catalytic church planting missionary based in Springfield. "It’s been a real cooperative effort between Evergreen, the church planters, the MBC and the association."