Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Church Planting Initiative

Why Start New Churches?

New churches are vitally important in the Body of Christ. The formation of new churches is among the most effective ways to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with people currently outside the Church. Church plants are also fertile soil for the growth of new leaders in the Church, and have even been shown to reinvigorate surrounding congregations. New churches also act as the “research and development” branch of the Church, pioneering new and creative forms of ministry and bearing fruit which nourishes the whole Body of Christ.

What is the Church Planting Initiative?

The Church Planting Initiative at Pittsburgh Seminary forms and supports Christian leaders who participate in God’s work of forming new Christian communities. We engage this mission through coordinating the Master of Divinity Church Planting Emphasis degree program and by serving as a resource for local churches and leaders through continuing education events, conferences, and coaching.

Why Pursue the M.Div. in Church Planting?

The M.Div. with the Church Planting Emphasis at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary provides solid theological education combined with relevant practical preparation for mission-oriented ministry. Through their coursework, students will sharpen their theological, historical, and scriptural awareness, while also learning how to communicate the love of Christ in various cultural contexts. Specialized internships provide laboratories in which students can observe, experiment, and create new forms of ministry. Participation in cohort groups with fellow students also creates a holistic learning community that provides for the spiritual formation of those who participate in the emphasis. Through all of these components, students grow in their ability to hear and respond to the Holy Spirit’s direction as they go forth in mission.

Distinguishing Features of the Church Planting Emphasis

In addition to the regular requirements for Master of Divinity students, those pursuing the church planting emphasis must also complete:

  • Courses in church planting and evangelism
  • Concentration in gospel and culture and church leadership and ministry in selected courses
  • Specialized internships respectively emphasizing observation of, participation in, and cultivation of new worshiping communities.
  • Participation in a cohort with other church planting emphasis students while enrolled in the emphasis
  • A short-term international experience related to church planting

Alumni Church Planters

The list of church plants started by PTS alums continues to grow. Learn more about how PTS prepared Chris Brown, coordinator of the Church Planting Initiative, for his ministry with fellow PTS alum Michael Gehrling at The Upper Room Presbyterian Church.

Other church plants led by PTS alumni include:

  • Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community Planted by the Rev. Jeff Eddings '08 and the Rev. Jim Walker '03, Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community is sharing God's word in Pittsburgh's South Side and beyond. Learn more. WATCH VIDEO
  • The Open Door A missional church community, The Open Door serves Pittsburgh's East End and is led by the Rev. BJ Woodworth '07 (pastor) and the Rev. John Creasy '06 (associate pastor). Additionally, John is also director of the Garfield Community Farm. Learn more.
  • House of Manna Located in the Homewood section of Pittsburgh, the Rev. Eugene Blackwell '05 leads the House of Manna, a faith community for everyday people. Learn more. WATCH VIDEO
  • Roots of Faith is led by Ben Phipps '15 and located in Sharpsburg, Pa. Learn more.


Apply online to the M.Div. Church Planting Emphasis program.


The Rev. Christopher Brown
Church Planting Initiative Coordinator




Dr. Scott Hagley
Assistant Professor of Missiology




Church Planting Emphasis
Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
616 N. Highland Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15206