Archives For Discipleship

Steve Childers, President of Pathway Learning

Forty years ago, Steve Childers became the founding pastor of Heritage Presbyterian Church in Oklahoma City, serving there from 1977-1982. Steve began helping start Heritage in August 1977 with, what The Daily Oklahoman called, “a small, faithful band” of mostly elderly people who refused to leave their rapidly declining neighborhood near downtown Oklahoma City. Their church was called Northminster Presbyterian and they had been without a pastor since 1964. Their membership had dropped from more than 700 to a handful of 13 faithful people[1] who were meeting together every Sunday afternoon in their almost empty sanctuary for worship, bible study and prayer.

They also refused to give up their vision of having a theologically conservative, evangelistic, Presbyterian church, like the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod (RPCES) denomination, that would truly serve their deteriorating, multi-ethnic, high-crime area of the city. Just before they were about to be told to disband by retired pastor Robert Cox, who’d been sent by the RPCES to evaluate them, Cox received a phone call from a young man named Steve Childers, who just graduated from Oklahoma State University with a business degree.

Heritage Presbyterian Church in 1977

Bob and Steve began meeting in the basement of the old church building, that was literally falling apart, to talk and pray about the great need for a new church in that community. Rather than telling this small band of faithful people to disband, Bob recommended they call Steve to help them start this new church. With no seminary education, he accepted their invitation a week later.

On August 13, 1977, The Daily Oklahoman reported the story with the headline, “Congregation, Pastor Looking for a Miracle,” quoting Bob Cox saying, “I think there is potential here, but maybe the only possible answer is a miracle.” Bob then left Oklahoma City to return to his home in Alabama. Steve began serving as their full-time “Student Supply Minister” on August 17, 1979, according to the terms of his call these people wrote by hand on a piece of notebook paper:

[Steve is] to teach in Sunday School, conduct the Sunday morning worship services, have the responsibilities of the midweek bible study and prayer meeting and serve in a pastoral capacity for all members and friends of the congregation, especially the sick, feeble, and sorrowing, following up all contacts brought to his attention. Weekly remuneration for his ministry shall be $50 per week salary and $25 for pastoral expenses.

Childers preaching at Heritage Presbyterian in Oklahoma City

Almost two years later, the new Heritage Reformed Presbyterian Church was formally received into the RPCES denomination and Steve Childers was ordained as their first pastor. On April 1, 1979, The Daily Oklahoman reported this story with the headline, “Ordination Rites Slated For Sunday,” quoting Bob Cox again. But this time he said “It’s a miracle that he’s here.” Steve continued serving Heritage until 1982 when he and other church leaders determined the church was healthy enough for him to leave to attend seminary. During that year, the RPCES merged with the PCA to become one denomination.

After seminary, Steve was the church planter and founding pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Plano (North Dallas), Texas from 1985-1995. For the next 22 years (1995-2017) he was a resident practical theology professor at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida, teaching courses in evangelism, discipleship, church planting, church renewal, leadership, and missions.

Steve earned Masters degrees from Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago, and a doctorate from Reformed Seminary in Orlando. He has also done doctoral studies in global mission and leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary’s School of World Mission in Pasadena. He and his wife, Becky, live in Orlando, Florida, and have three daughters and three grandchildren.

Training the Trainers in a Pathway Learning cohort course in Muslim West Africa (French)

As Steve traveled overseas as a seminary professor, he learned there are millions of church leaders around the world who don’t have access to high quality, seminary-level education. In response to this critical need, he founded Global Church Advancement, continuing today as Pathway Learning, with the mission to provide these under-served church leaders the training and tools they need to develop churches that transform lives and have a lasting impact on their communities.

Drawing on the latest educational technology, Pathway Learning provides a blend of online and onsite courses that increase the effectiveness of church leaders by providing them access to affordable, seminary courses–where they live, in their language, and for their culture. This allows them to receive their necessary education and credentials without leaving their families and the churches they’re serving. Pathway Learning courses include biblical, theological, and practical studies.

In June 2017, after 40 years of ministry on the field and at the seminary, Steve began serving Pathway Learning full-time. This year Pathway Learning is launching courses in English for North America, courses translated into French for West Africa, Mandarin for South Asia, Japanese for Japan, and Italian for Western Europe. The goal of these projects is to develop an effective, scalable model for educating under-served church leaders. To date, Pathway Learning has helped train thousands of church leaders from more than 300 denominations representing over 50 countries in 7 languages on 5 continents.

Steve is looking for prayer and financial partners to help him bring this solution to many more church leaders around the world. To learn more about Pathway Learning go to www.pathwaylearning.org

[1] This core group included Jim and Irene Franklin, a retired machinist, Jim and Lucille Donnell, a retired truck driver, Humphrey and Jennie Bard, a retired newspaperman, and several widows.

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Drs. John Frame and Steve Childers compiled the top 100 books that have influenced the thought of Frame. This list is published in John Frame’s Selected Shorter Writings, Volume 1, by P&R Publishing.

 

Anselm. Works of St. Anselm: Proslogium, Monologium, An Appendix in Behalf of the Fool, and Cur Deus Homo. Forgotten Books, 2007.

 

Aquinas, Thomas. The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas. Translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Provinc. Christian Classics, 1981.

 

Athanasius. On the Incarnation. Empire Books, 2012.

 

Augustine. The City of God. Translated by Marcus Dods. Hendrickson Publishers, 2009.

________. Confessions. Simon & Brown, 2012.

________. On the Trinity. Edited by Paul A. Boer Sr. and William G. T. Shedd D.D. Translated by Rev. Arthur West Haddan B.D. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2012.

 

Bavinck, Herman. Our Reasonable Faith. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1956.

________. Reformed Dogmatics. Baker Academic, 2008.

________. Selected Shorter Works. Monergism Books, 2011.

 

Berkouwer, G. C. Studies in Dogmatics: The Providence of God. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1952.

 

Calvin, John. Calvin’s Commentaries, 23 Vol. 500th ed. Baker Books, 2009.

________. The Institutes of Christian Religion. Edited by Tony Lane and Hilary Osborne. Reprint. Baker Academic, 1987.

 

Clark, Gordon H. Christian View of Men and Things. 3rd ed. Trinity Foundation, 1998.

 

Clowney, Edmund P. Called to the Ministry. P & R Publishing, 1976.

________. Christian Meditation. Regent College Publishing, 1979.

________. The Church. IVP Academic, 1995.

________. How Jesus Transforms The Ten Commandments. Edited by Rebecca Clowney Jones. annotated ed. P & R Publishing, 2007.

________. Preaching and Biblical Theology. P & R Publishing, 2002.

________. Preaching Christ in All of Scripture. Crossway, 2003.

________. The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament. Presbyterian & Reformed Pub Co, 1991.

 

Edwards, Jonathan. Freedom of the Will. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013.

________. The Life and Diary of David Brainerd. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2012.

________. Religious Affections. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2009.

________. Selected Sermons of Jonathan Edwards. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2012.

________. Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. Empire Books, 2012.

 

Gerstner, John H. Jonathan Edwards: A Mini-Theology. Soli Deo Gloria Ministries, 2003.

________. The Problem of Pleasure: Why Good Things Happen to Bad People. Soli Deo Gloria Ministries, 2003.

________. Reasons For Faith. Nabu Press, 2011.

________. Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth: A Critique of Dispensationalism. 3rd ed. Nicene Council, 2009.

Gerstner, John H., Arthur W. Lindsley, and R. C. Sproul. Classical Apologetics. 1st ed. Zondervan, 1984.

 

Hodge, Charles. Systematic Theology. Reprinted 1981. Hendrickson Publishers, 1999.

 

Kant, Immanuel. Critique of Pure Reason. Edited by Marcus Weigelt. Translated by Marcus Weigelt and Max Muller. Revised. Penguin Classics, 2008.

 

Kline, Meredith G. Images of the Spirit. 0 ed. Wipf & Stock Publishers, 1999.

­­________. The Structure of Biblical Authority. Wipf & Stock Publishers, 1997.

 

Kuyper, Abraham. Lectures on Calvinism. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1943.

________. Particular Grace: A Defense of God’s Sovereignty in Salvation. First ed. Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2001.

________. Rooted & Grounded: The Church as Organism and Institution. Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty, 2013.

________. Sacred Theology. Sovereign Grace Publishers Inc., 2001.

________. To Be Near Unto God. Forgotten Books, 2012.

 

Lewis, C. S. Mere Christianity [Deckle Edge] Publisher: Harper San Francisco; 3th (third) Edition Text Only, 2001.

________. Miracles. HarperOne, 2001.

 

Luther, Martin. The Bondage of the Will. Empire Books, 2012.

________. Commentary on Galatians. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2012.

________. Commentary on Romans. Translated by J. Theodore Mueller. Kregel Classics, 2003.

________. The Freedom of a Christian. Edited by Mark D. Tranvik. Fortress Press, 2008.

________. Luther’s Large Catechism: A Contemporary Translation With Study Questions. Concordia Publishing House, 1988.

________. Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses. Translated by C. M. Jacobs. Fortress Press, 1957.

________. Treatise on Good Works: Luther Study Edition. Luther study ed. Fortress Press, 2012.

 

Machen, John Gresham. Christianity and Liberalism. BiblioBazaar, 2009.

 

Miller, C. John. A Faith Worth Sharing: A Lifetime of Conversations About Christ. P & R Publishing, 1999.

________. Outgrowing the Ingrown Church. Zondervan, 1986.

________. Repentance. Christian Literature Crusade, 2009.

Miller, C. John, and Barbara Miller Juliani. Come Back, Barbara. 2nd ed. P & R Publishing, 1997.

 

Murray, John. Christian Baptism. Presbyterian & Reformed Pub Co, 1980.

________. Collected Writings of John Murray: Lectures in Systematic Theology. Banner of Truth, 1991.

________. The Covenant of Grace: A Biblico-Theological Study. P & R Publishing, 1987.

________. The Epistle to the Romans: The English Text with Introduction, Exposition and Notes. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997.

________. The Imputation of Adam’s Sin. P & R Publishing, 1992.

________. Principles of Conduct: Aspects of Biblical Ethics. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1957.

________. Redemption Accomplished and Applied. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1955.

 

Packer, James I. Fundamentalism and the Word of God: Some Evangelical Principles. Inter-Varsity Fellowship, 1965.

________. Knowing God. 20th Anniversary ed. IVP Books, 1993.

 

Pascal, Blaise. Pensées and Other Writings. Edited by Anthony Levi. Translated by Honor Levi. Oxford University Press, USA, 2008.

 

Piper, John. Desiring God, Revised Edition: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist. Rev Exp. Multnomah Books, 2011.

 

Plato. Meno. Empire Books, 2012.

________. Phaedo. Translated by Benjamin Jowett. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2012.

 

Poythress, Vern S. In the Beginning Was the Word: Language–A God-Centered Approach. 1st ed. Crossway, 2009.

________. Inerrancy and the Gospels: A God-Centered Approach to the Challenges of Harmonization. 1st ed. Crossway, 2012.

________. Logic: A God-Centered Approach to the Foundation of Western Thought. 1st ed. Crossway, 2013.

________. Philosophy, Science, And The Sovereignty Of God. Presbyterian & Reformed Pub Co, 2004.

________. Redeeming Science: A God-Centered Approach. Crossway, 2006.

________. Redeeming Sociology: A God-Centered Approach. Crossway, 2011.

________. The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses. Reprint. Presbyterian & Reformed Pub Co, 1995.

________. Symphonic Theology: The Validity of Multiple Perspectives in Theology. P & R Publishing, 2001.

________. What Are Spiritual Gifts? P & R Publishing, 2010.

 

Rushdoony, Rousas John. The Institutes of Biblical Law. P & R Publishing, 1980.

 

Schaeffer, Francis A. Art and the Bible. 2nd ed. IVP Books, 2006.

________. A Christian Manifesto. Crossway, 2005.

________. Escape from Reason. IVP Books, 2006.

________. The God Who Is There. 30th Anniversary ed. IVP Books, 1998.

________. The Great Evangelical Disaster. 1St ed. Crossway, 1984.

________. He Is There and He Is Not Silent. 30th ed. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1994.

________. How Should We Then Live? (L’Abri 50th Anniversary Edition): The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture. L’Abri 50th Anniversary ed. Crossway, 2005.

________. True Spirituality. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1989.

 

Shepherd, Norman. The Call of Grace: How the Covenant Illuminates Salvation and Evangelism. P & R Publishing, 2000.

________. The Way of Righteousness. Kerygma Press, 2009.

 

Van Til, Cornelius. Christian Apologetics. Edited by William Edgar. 2nd ed. P & R Publishing, 2003.

________. A Christian Theory of Knowledge. First ed. Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co, 1969.

________. The Defense of the Faith. Edited by K. Scott Oliphint. 4th ed. P & R Publishing, 2008.

________. Introduction to Systematic Theology: Prolegomena and the Doctrines of Revelation, Scripture, and God. Edited by William Edgar. 2nd ed. P & R Publishing, 2007.

________. Why I Believe in God. Westminster Theological Seminary, 1976.

 

Warfield, B. B. Counterfeit Miracles. Banner of Truth, 1972.

________. Faith and Life. Banner of Truth Trust, 1974.

________. Inspiration and Authority of the Bible. 2nd ed. P & R Publishing, 1980.

________. The Person and Work of Christ. The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1989.

________. The Plan of Salvation. 1st ed. Fig, 2013.

________. Saviour of the World. Banner of Truth, 1991.

________. Selected Shorter Writings. Edited by John Meeter. P & R Publishing, 2001.

 

Westminster Assembly of Divines. The Westminster Standards. Great Commission Publications, 2003.

 

Wittgenstein, Ludwig. Philosophical Investigations. Edited by P. M. S. Hacker and Joachim Schulte. 4th ed. Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.