Earlier this year Dr Paige Patterson declared war on Southern Baptist missionaries who were committed to multiplying disciples and churches. He called for the sacking of David Garrison, a leading proponent of church planting movements.
Dr Patterson is the President of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is no stranger to denominational battles. He was a prominent figure in the Southern Baptist Convention conservative resurgence.
Four months before the IMB (International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention) announced plans to eliminate 600-800 jobs due to financial constraints, Dr Patterson called for the removal of Garrison and 750 other missionaries due to incompetence or theological error. Patterson rejects Garrison’s concept of the “wrinkling of time.”
What he means by this is it’s taking too long to evangelise the world, so we need to get out there and we need to do church planting by the thousands and thousands and thousands of house churches. It doesn’t matter who’s pastor of it. As soon as you get there, identify the man or the woman who is the most natural leader and tell them they’re the pastor, and you’re ready to go. We have tried a number of these in Bangladesh and in China, particularly, where the results have been disastrous. Predictably because a small house church with no biblical understanding and are hard put to find the Gospel of John in a Bible drill; they’re not going to lead to biblically based congregations. What they’re going to do is to watch Benny Hinn on television and follow him, and that is exactly what is happening. The vast majority of our house church plants that we have done are now off in the name-it-and-claim-it gospel and have abandoned New Testament faith entirely and completely.
These are serious charges — if they are true. And at least one charge is true. David Garrison wants to plant thousands of churches. He is eager to win a lost world for Christ. He’s guilty on that one.
Here are the other allegations, as yet unproven:
- IMB missionaries, who follow Garrison’s approach, don’t care who leads a new church. They’ll appoint anyone to be a pastor who is a natural leader then move on.
- The new churches have no Biblical understanding. They don’t even know where the gospel of John is in the Bible.
- The “vast majority" of the new churches in Bangladesh and China are following Benny Hinn on television. They follow the “prosperity gospel.” They have abandoned New Testament faith. “This is exactly what is happening.”
Now we’re getting somewhere. These are allegations that can easily be proven if someone has done their homework before making them public.
Dr Patterson is the President of a theological seminary. He is an academic, a PhD graduate and a published author of numerous books and articles. He would never make allegations like these public without careful research and evidence. That's what he would expect of his students at South Western. He'd expect them to do their research, gather the evidence and present their case.
So I asked Dr Patterson to provide the evidence to back up his charges. So far he has been unable to do so.
Meanwhile, Paige Patterson has won this latest battle. After 30 years of distinguished service with the IMB, David Garrison has resigned to become the new Executive Director of Global Gates. The mission of Global Gates is to reach the ends of the earth through global gateway cities. They began in New York and are now in six North American cities with plans to reach more gateway cities around the world.
Seems like David “Wrinkling of Time” Garrison is still impatient to reach a lost world. He's still devoting his life to fulfilling the Great Commission. Someone had better warn Global Gates to watch out for this dangerous man.
This is an interview I did with David Garrison on my latest book: Pioneering Movements: Leadership that Multiplies Disciples and Churches.
DAVID: Why did you write Pioneering Movements?
STEVE: Ten years ago I had just come out of China and was passing through Singapore. There I met with two men, both named Smith. They trained and coached leaders across Asia who were multiplying disciples and churches. I was a student of movements; they knew movements from the inside. I shared with them what I had learned about the ve characteristics of dynamic movements—white-hot faith, commitment to a cause, contagious relationships, rapid mobilization and adaptive methods. Bill Smith and Steve Smith said I had done a good job. Their experience validated my research. My trip to China had left me wondering whether my five characteristics should really be six. I felt I should add a crucial sixth characteristic—pioneering or apostolic leadership. When I asked for their opinion, they said, “We have never seen a church planting movement without apostolic leadership.” That’s why I wrote Pioneering Movements.
DAVID: What’s the book about?
STEVE: Pioneering Movements is a book about leadership, specifically movement leadership. Not movements in a general sense, but movements that make disciples and multiply churches. Everywhere. That’s what Jesus did. It’s what he trained his disciples to do. It’s what he is doing today.
DAVID: Describe the main themes.
STEVE: In What Jesus Started I examined Jesus as the founder of a missionary movement who equipped the Twelve, the early church and Paul as movement pioneers. This book will build on that foundation. I begin by sharing some of my journey. Before Jesus was a movement leader he was an obedient Son. We all have to learn that mission is not just an academic pursuit or a theoretical discussion of ministry models, it’s about who we are and what we do. We’ll never understand pioneering movements unless God shapes us from the inside out. I explore the example of Simon Peter, a neglected gure in Protestantism due to the prominence of Paul. Peter was a natural leader among Jesus’ disciples and the founding leader of the Christian movement following Pentecost. He was chosen by God as the bridge between the Jewish and Gentile missions of the early church. I examine a few of the many case studies of movement pioneers in history and around the world today. In two extended case studies (South Asia and the United States) I show what it takes for a movement to get to multiple generations of disciples and churches. I’ve intentionally chosen one case study from the developing world and one from the Western world. Both movements have broken through to multiple generations of new disciples and new churches. For security reasons there is not a lot of detailed information available on pioneering movements among Muslims. So I’ve spoken privately with those who have rsthand experience and discovered that there is an unprecedented number of disciple-making movements among Muslims around the world. I look at the relationship between movement pioneers, their teams and the local churches. I ask, How can we align our current church and mission structures to take advantage of this important leadership gift?
Pioneering Movements looks at the five levels of pioneering leadership in a multiplying movement and shows how we can grow leaders at every level. I review cases studies of churches who are catalysts for disciple-making movements. I explore the authority of apostolic ministry in weakness and in power.
DAVID: What do Movement Pioneers do?
STEVE: Following the example of Jesus and the rest apostles, movement pioneers communicate the truth about the nature of God and salvation through Christ. They teach followers a new way of life in obedience to Christ’s commands. Their purpose is to lead people to accept the message, begin to follow Jesus, share him with others and form new churches that become partners in spreading the gospel.
DAVID: What do you hope the book will achieve?
STEVE: Jesus founded a missionary movement that has spread throughout the world. It is God’s mission; it will not cease until that day when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. The living Lord calls us to partner with him in redeeming a lost world. To do that we need to recapture a vision of the church as a missionary movement and learn to work with the movement pioneers God raises up in every generation.