Healthy Faith
May 4, 2022

Church-Planting, Entrepreneurial Mindset, And The Savage Church

Pastor Garrett Craw of Buda, Texas joins Michael Stansbury to talk about his innovative paradigm of church-planting and the concept of the “savage church”.

Success in church planting lies in the harmonious integration of traditional values with the adaptive strategies essential for navigating the challenges of the present. With nearly 30 years of experience in this transformative field, Pastor Garrett Craw advocates for a model that draws inspiration from the church practices of the past, navigating the contemporary landscape with an innovative and forward-thinking approach. He talks about this in this episode of Iron Deep Podcast with host Michael Stansbury. Join in as Pastor Craw talks about the importance of an entrepreneurial mindset in church planting and shares recommendations for resources and mentorship for aspiring church planters. The imminent release of Pastor Craw's book, "The Savage Church," is also mentioned, with a focus on providing practical guidance for potential church planters. Tune in for more!

Church-Planting, Entrepreneurial Mindset, And The Savage Church With Pastor Garrett Craw

I have a guest from Buda, Texas. He is Pastor Garrett Craw. Garrett, as humbly as you can, tell us why you're a big deal.

First of all, I'm actually done in Buda. I learned that the hard way. I thought it was related to Budapest but I was wrong. It's some a shortening of beautiful. I’m going on many years of church planting experience. We've developed a pretty robust and durable model for church planting. My last church plant I left was a smooth transition. It's continued to grow and thrive under the new pastor, which normally isn't the case a lot of times. We planted a new church down here in Buda and we're about a few months in. It's going gangbusters. I wrote a book on church planting.

What is that book is called?

The Savage Church.

What does that mean? When somebody sees that word savage, there's a little bit of emotion that you feel when you see that. Why that title?

IDP 33 | Church Planting

It's a play on words in some ways, but it's also reality. We're basically putting forth a method of church planting that's traditional. A lot of the elements that we utilize in planting a church and running a church are what the church was doing many years ago. However, a lot of these normal pedestrians beliefs that we have as Christians are now considered very savage. Doing church the old fashioned way is now considered a savage thing. That's the terminology for savage church. In fact, there are a few people that would read it and if they've read it many years ago, they think it’s a big deal, but now it's like, “This guy is crazy.”

What's old is new and better. I was reading through your bio. I'm going to go a little bit off because I'm very interested in this. In your bio, you grew up on different military bases during the Cold War. How many children do you have?

I have four children.

I'm in the four-kid club as well. What did you teach your kids or tell your kids about the way that you grew up during the Cold War in the military family? Tell me about that. I'm interested in hearing how you inform them about your childhood. How did it how did it shape you?

We're called military brats. It's weird because you realize after it's done that you were growing up in a colony. You're in these far-flung American communities around the world. We're always almost about twenty years behind. The military families have traditionally been twenty years behind and a little bit more traditional. I'm a Gen X-er but I feel like a Baby Boomer. I do tell my kids a couple of things. One is I inculcate a more traditional and further behind ethic on things, but also it taught me the appreciation for being an American. You see different countries and see how things operate in different countries. Some of it is good, and some of it is bad. You come to appreciate the place you're from.

It's interesting that you say that because I was reading a lot. When Kobe Bryant died, he had the same experience. In fact, he said the same elements that you said. He grew up out of the culture a little bit and described it like you did. It was years behind it and much more appreciation for America than his contemporaries, which is an interesting experience that you get.

It was a fun interview. I'll watch him on YouTube and he's doing it in Italian. It’s interesting seeing Kobe Bryant speaking Italian to Italian.

Let's talk about The Savage Church. One of the things that resonated in your talk is I'm half Italian but my mother was 100% Italian. She grew up in Saint Louis. She's Roman Catholic, but in Saint Louis, they had The Hill, which is where all the Italians lived. There was another area where all the Ukrainians and Polish lived. We don't we don't grow up like that anymore, but they had the church. That's where everybody congregated.

That's what normal American life in the '40s, '50s, '60s and going into the '70s, but now it changed in the '80s, '90s, and 2000s. When I asked that question, are we trying to go back to that? What is what is the new way to do church planting or what is the way to do church planting if there is a right way to do it?

I'd say this. The Holy Spirit's always moving ahead of us and he's doing something new all the time. We can't necessarily go back. To be romantic and try to replicate the past is not what you want to do, but we can learn from the past. We can learn from our forefathers and foremost what they did in church. I would say this. We can't recapture the idea of having ethnic communities. There are newer ethnic groups coming in that can do that, but generally for European ethnicities, we've dissipated so that's not coming back. However, I would say this. When I went to elementary school in the '70s, it was in the middle of the bicentennial. It was an institution that inculcated a culture that brought conformity and unity.

People had a common sense of shared identity. That's not the case anymore. We've seen institutions falling left and right. At the end of the day at this point in time, I would say this. Probably the church is the last institution standing and it will stand because it always does, but we need to do double duty on that and figure out ways that the church as an institution can spawn other institutions sometime in the future.

IDP 33 | Church Planting

Spawn and rebuild. That's what I look forward to as well. I go to a church and it's a non-denominational church. It's been around for many years, but I'm also interested in this church planter movement because our audience is a lot of real estate entrepreneurs. They are successful entrepreneurs. They are successful in real estate. We also love Jesus. Some of our audience may be in a church and it's thriving. It's doing good work, but they may be also in this position to help or be part of a church plant or to help in that instance.

In your talk that I've listened to, and I guess this is also in The Savage Church, there are certain elements of planting a church. It was interesting because the church planter in one of these things, and you correct me if I'm wrong, was not necessarily a pastor. It was somebody that may have been more business-savvy, business-minded, or entrepreneurial. It could be a pastor, but it may be somebody else.

Let's say you're talking to that that person who says, “I feel like I do want to be a part of a church plant because in my community, there's not an institution there that is thriving,” or maybe they're part of a church that has their theology or doctrine has been skewed. Tell me about that person. How would you spur that person on? Who is that person?

First of all, a church planter himself is going to be a pastor because he's going to be doing preaching, serving, and in our terminology sacraments, The Lord’s Supper, and doing baptisms, but he has a team around him, hopefully that would consist of future officers, elders, and deacons. In that sense more broadly, the church planters could include lay people.

However, for the church planter himself, I would say this. Typically, it's going to be someone who has some experience in the world. It could be someone who is not straight out of seminary but has done some things with their lives. Preferably, someone who's got some entrepreneurial experience and has an entrepreneurial bet because church planting is very entrepreneurial. It could be a self-starter or someone who would have an extroverted edge to them.

They could be introverted, but they've got to be able to overcome that because it's about going and gathering people. Also, selling a vision. A lot of skills that would come into play with any startup will come into play. It should. A lot of times, people doing church planting think of it as simply a pious endeavor. That's true. However, at the end of the day, you need to have some skills in accounting. You need to have skills in capital raising. You need to have good communication and organizational skills because you're building something that's not there.

IDP 33 | Church Planting
Church Planting: Church-planting is all gathering people and selling a vision, so a lot of skills that would come into play with any sort of startup will come into play here.

Months ago, you made the transition from California to Buda, Texas. Tell me about that transition. I love storytelling. We're talking about The Savage Church. How did you go from California to Buda? What does it look a months ago and what does it look like now?

The last year I was in California was 2020. I'm a former Marine so during COVID, I ran it like a ship captain. I needed to be there for that time, but when it started lifting, I started having the sense of, “I've accomplished what I need to accomplish here. We got a good pastoral and leadership team.” I've got enough time to do one more plan. I was 55 years old at the time. I started looking around. I got in contact with the group down here that had a former member of our church in California. Austin seemed like a perspective place. One of the things that I was trying to explore was being a pastor of a church where people are coming to rather than leaving. California was always a situation of people coming and going particularly when they get married and start having children.

It's very hard to do family formation in California because of the expense. I presented that to my elder board out in California and then we came up with a transition plan where I slowly transitioned out. My associate pastor transitioned in as a senior pastor. At the end of that, I was told by a number of people that was a smoothest church transition they've ever seen. I got down here. We had a core group of about 70 people. We're pushing over 200 now. It's a place where, in some sense, more perspective. People here are planning on staying here and even retiring here. Building a multi-generational church is easier here. It can be done in California. Somebody needs to do it, but it's a different ball game.

There's a lot more transitioning for people coming in and moving up. It may be in the corporate world in California and Texas. We've had a lot of people move to Tennessee. We live in Memphis. A lot of it is more in the East Tennessee and Middle Tennessee. Those places are thriving because people are like, “This is where we are going to be for a while.” It's interesting to watch that culture shift, too, because we're also in the real estate business.

We can see it in real time. People are like, “I'm not moving up. I'm not moving down. This is my house. This is my homestead,” or however you want to describe it. I see, hear, and talk to a lot of people who are communicating the same thing you're communicating. They are wanting to stick and stay for a while. You are now in Buda, Texas. Are there other resources out there for people who are church planting? How would you maybe mentor somebody to discover some of their gifts or maybe a pastor that's looking to do that? Where would they start at? What are some resources for them to look at long term?

I'm a big advocate of denominations just because they have accountability and support structures, but there are groups out there. Some attached to denominations and some not. The Presbyterian Church in America or the PCA has the assessment center and they have materials for church planters. The stuff that Acts 29 put out, a lot of it is good. Anglican 1000 is another one.

There are books out there on church planting. Primarily, you probably should find a successful church planter, approach them, and see if they'd be willing to help you out. We like to help people out. At a time like this, I'm getting tons of inquiries and it's too much for me to analyze whether this is a group that's viable and whether I should get involved with them. Find someone who's done church planting and approach them. If they don't have time, ask them what kind of resources they have. There's a lot of available out there in the internet these days.

That's one of the things that we tell other people who are wanting to come in a real estate and buy houses. We always tell them a similar thing, “Go find somebody that's doing it that's successful. Go talk to them. Go find out how you can help them and you're going to learn a lot.” I do very much appreciate you coming on our show. Our audience would love to read about the success that you guys are having. We're looking forward to the book, The Savage Church, coming out. Do we have a date yet when that comes out?

IDP 33 | Church Planting

I've got it sitting in some publisher’s hoppers. I'm not sure. I've got a couple different options. For me, I would like to get a larger publishing house, but if that doesn't work, I want to get it out there. Sometimes I'll fill 3 or 4 potential church planters in a week. I am contacting me on the phone. Normally, it turns into a 2 or 3-hour conversation. It would be nice to say, “Here, read this.” I am hoping to have this out in the marketplace by the end of 2023.

We'll look forward to that. If anybody else wants to find out more about you and your church, how would they find you?

You can find us at or you look us up King’s Cross Reformed Church in Buda, Texas or Austin, Texas, and we'll pop up. You can get in contact with me through that or find out more information.

Garrett, thank you very much for coming on the show. I do appreciate it. Thank you for reading this. We'll see you next episode.

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