By Dick Scoggins
When Dave saw that I was committed to new, innovative ways of church planting, he got me in touch with a number of his friends, and encouraged me to write them and see if they might coach and mentor me. I wrote several letters (this was long before the email era) and got a reply from only one man, George Patterson.
George had ministered in Latin America for years and had recently moved back to the West Coast of the USA. He said he would be happy to train me as long as I followed his instructions to write a monthly report about what I had done, what had gone well, even more importantly, what had gone poorly, and what I was planning to do differently during the following month. He would reply with a detailed letter asking me questions and making observations. Most of the time, he did not give directions, but helped me discover how to navigate through the complex and challenging calling of apostolic church planting. Then, he had me write back answers to his questions.
Additionally, George was a great “Barnabas” (which means “son of encouragement”) like the encouraging apostle in the book of Acts. In fact, he visited my team and me several times over the next six years. He didn’t just affirm me, though, but challenged me in a number of areas where he said I was “short-circuiting my fruitfulness” and that of my apostolic team.
In 1991, he asked me if I would co-write a training book with him titled, “Church Multiplication Guide.” I felt very humbled and pleased that he would ask me to co-author with him. In this way, George sponsored me by giving me a chance to influence others that I otherwise would not have access to.
George also expanded my thinking about church planting by redefining the word “apostle” for the first time in a way I could begin to unpack it with understanding. He challenged my assumption that apostolic ministry was only applicable to cross-cultural ministries where the church doesn’t exist. He asked me if I thought he could still be an apostle even while living back in America and not actively involved in cross-cultural church planting. I was stumped: he clearly was an apostle, but his living in the U.S. did not fit into my paradigm of what an apostle was supposed to be and do. He helped me gain a much greater understanding of what it meant to be an apostle, and was the first person to affirm that I too was an apostle.
George sponsored me through proactive mentoring and imparted to me an outstanding model of how to be an effective mentor. He showed me how to take action in ministry with the end in view, even if I encountered twists and turns along the way. He was great at training me and my apostolic team how to learn from our mistakes and use them to enter into new territory and be innovative. The mentoring and sponsoring I do today, in which I have young apostles reflect and share with me, is modeled after how George mentored me for nearly 10 years.
After I moved to England in 1996, George asked me to take over the yearly training program he had been running in Holland. By giving me this leadership opportunity, he opened doors for me (sponsoring me again) in Europe from which I am still benefiting— where I continue to build up apostolic networks in Holland, Switzerland, and England.