Hello! My name is Wes Pastor, and I'm president of NETS. But I hope you're not impressed with men and their accomplishments. I hope you're impressed with the power of the gospel, the good news that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose on the third day, all according to Old Testament promises. I hope you're impressed with the power of that preached gospel to make dry bones live. I know I am!
As a church history major at Dallas Theological Seminary under Dr. John Hannah, I was enamored with the ministries of Gilbert Tennent, George Whitefield and, especially, Jonathan Edwards. By God's grace I wanted to plant churches without using gimmicks, tricks or faddish innovations, but simply through faithful gospel proclamation. I wanted the faith of my parishioners to rest not on the wisdom of men but on the power of God (I Cor. 2:5). That’s what my wife, Sue, and I set out to do when we moved to Vermont.
It’s been a wild and wonderful ride. Christ Memorial, the church I planted in 1992, is beginning to replant itself with the next generation. And we’ve been privileged to be part of a growing family of NETS churches planted with that same gospel-driven strategy. God has truly blessed our ministry.
And God has blessed our family. By His grace, each of our five children loves the Lord Jesus Christ and His church. Our three oldest, John, Joel and Lydia, are married to spouses who love the Lord as well. And God has blessed Joel and Jenny with our first two grandchildren. Our youngest, Abi and Hannah, are in various stages of entering adulthood and seeking God’s will for their futures.
As I wrote in one NETS newsletter, the life of a church planter is challenging, but it’s a fine life, a very fine life, a divinely blessed life of seeing God bring dry bones to life. Glory to God in the highest!
Read Wes's paper on Jonathan Edwards and true conversion, presented at the Jonathan Edwards Society 2011.
In January 1991, Wes Pastor moved to Vermont to put the gospel to the test. He’d read about the transforming power of the gospel. He’d experienced it in his own life. He’d spent years in seminary strengthening his grip on God’s word. He believed God’s promise to bring all whom He had called to saving faith.
But he also knew New England. He’d studied its religious history, from its glorious Great Awakenings to its present-day dullness. He’d seen its religious landscape - empty church buildings, crumbling church plants, rising decadence and burgeoning liberalism. Could a church planter succeed in such a place? Would the gospel work even in New England?
Christ Memorial Church only begins to answer that question. At over 400 attendees, it’s now the largest Baptist church in the state. But Wes was not content to see gospel proclamation work only in Vermont. In 2000 he launched what is now the NETS Institute for Church Planting (NETS) to train men to confidently and competently plant gospel-driven churches in the most gospel-resistant soils.
The church plants launched by these men display that gospel power. Christ Redeemer Church, launched in New Hampshire in 2000, has succeeded in a region where at least seven evangelical church plants have since failed. Redeeming Grace Church in northern Vermont, launched in 2005 with a core group of 70 from Christ Memorial, is now nearly double in size. Redeemer Fellowship Church in Massachusetts is preparing to celebrate its two-year anniversary in a permanent church building. There’s even two churches in Cameroon with a combined Sunday attendance of 750.
Each of these NETS-trained church planters and their wives were better equipped for ministry by the life-on-life mentoring they received from Wes and Sue. They learned from Sue's walk of faith and godly perspective as a church planter's wife. They benefited from Wes’s unique combination of theological grounding, business savvy and practical experience. Wes is a graduate of Westminster Seminary (MAR) and the University of Wales (MTh, thesis on pastoral leadership), and has taught as adjunct faculty at seminaries here and abroad. He’s an MBA and a former university business professor. He’s a seasoned shepherd, a church-planting pastor with twenty years of experience in gospel-driven preaching, teaching and counseling, and is still thrilled with the power of the gospel to transform sinners into saints.