“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” is what we refer to as the Great Commission (See Matthew 28:19, 20). We make disciples through personal evangelism and mentorship, but beyond and in addition to this, the local church is where we must plant ourselves to truly flourish (Psalm 92:13). Our passion for the local church and its relevance and importance is what drives us and gives our family purpose. After all, the church is what Jesus is coming back for someday, His bride! One of the best organizations I know of that exists to plant life-giving churches all over the United States is ARC. We love their model of church planting and feel so blessed to partner with ARC as we move forward with our plans. Even though ARC doesn’t plant churches internationally, we will be using the ARC model for our church.
The Association of Related Churches was started in 2000 by the late Pastor Billy Hornsby along with Greg Surratt from Seacoast Church. Their desire was to work with church planters and leaders, as well as churches in transition to provide support, guidance and resources to launch and grow them. ARC helps train and equip church planters, provides financial and other means of support, as well as ongoing leadership training and mentorship for the life of a church. Their vision is to plant 2000 churches by 2020. ARC has already helped launch over 200 churches.
Greg and I are blessed to be involved with ARC through Celebration Church as our Senior Pastor, Joe Champion, is on the board of this great organization. We went through ARC church planter trainings when we were preparing to launch Celebration’s first satellite campus two summers ago. The irony is that the entire time we were there, we talked about how thankful we were that we weren’t “real church planters” but just “satellite pastors” who didn’t have to worry about fund-raising, creating bylaws, hiring staff, putting together a board of overseers, etc. We listened as other church planters talked about their visions and we were excited to be a part of Pastor Joe and Lori’s vision for Austin, TX; we had no desire to start our own church!
Fast forward two years… now that we are walking out our calling to plant a church in Australia, we are so thankful for all of the exposure and teaching we have received from ARC. We have many great relationships with other church planters and leaders across the country. The resources ARC provides to church planters are unbelievable and we plan on gleaning from the ARC pastors and leaders every step along the way in our journey.
This weekend, we are traveling to Birmingham to attend the 2.0 training with ARC. We didn’t go through all of the training two years ago and they have revamped their materials since then. We are excited to spend the week at Church of the Highlands with Pastor Chris Hodges and the ARC team.
This time, we will be soaking up every bit of the information they provide with a new set of eyes and ears. Maybe as you read this, you are thinking, “I’m glad I’m not Greg and Stacy… wouldn’t want to be called to THAT!” Be careful… you never know where you might land in a couple of years! In the meantime, let’s all do our part as disciples of Christ to fulfill the Great Commission!