By Dick Scoggins
Dave was the senior pastor of the first church I attended and he sponsored me to be the college and career leader among Brown University students. After 4 years, the church asked me to leave my teaching position so I could devote myself to starting a new church. Dave had actively sponsored and supported me through the maze of church politics until I was appointed as an elder and ultimately sent out to start their sister church.
It wasn’t until I started the new church I realized just how poorly prepared I was to be a pastor. I had no Bible school or seminary degrees, so I asked Dave if he would train me in the skills of preaching and counselling. He made sure I was thoroughly equipped: he trained me in preaching himself (he was and remains an excellent preacher), and then commended me to a program which trained counsellors, with the church covering the costs. Sometimes sponsorship means arranging training for the one you are sponsoring when you can’t teach it yourself.
Later, after visiting the mission field a couple of times, I felt a call to leave the church and launch into a church planting ministry that would be team-based and have the team exit once the church had been successfully planted. At the time this was an innovative, nontraditional methodology. Dave candidly admitted that I was beyond where he could help me and put me in touch with George Patterson, a missionary to Latin America, who became my first apostolic sponsor.
Dave did a great job of sponsoring me by giving me training in areas I was lacking (including recommending lots of books for me to read!), as well as giving me opportunities to serve and lead—whether it was in the college and career ministry, eldership, or being sent out to plant a new church. He also sponsored me into new relationships that would open doors for years to come.