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PLANO, TX: Anglican 1000 Church Planting Summit Draws 350 Leaders

PLANO, TX: Anglican 1000 Church Planting Summit Draws 350 Leaders

Recently some 350 Anglican church planters and leaders met in Christ Church Plano, Texas to strategize how Anglicanism might grow in North America in the face of a moribund Episcopal Church. VOL interviewed the Rev. Daniel Adkinson a leader in the movement, to get a perspective on Anglican evangelism in North America.

By David W. Virtue
www.virtueonline.org
March 11, 2011

VOL: Recently over 350 Anglican church planters and leaders converged on Plano, TX for the second annual Church Planting Summit. How did this compare with the first such meeting a year ago in terms of numbers?

Daniel Adkinson: At our first gathering we had around 325 participants. This year was larger...and from the look of it, a whole lot younger. We had many more young leaders who are eager to get going. And there seemed to be a lot of engagement with the focus for planting churches.

VOL: What was your role in this gathering?

Adkinson: I served as the conference organizer and co-emcee of the event. What I enjoyed most was being able to moderate the Q & A Sessions with Dr. Keller and Bishop Hunter. It was also wonderfully inspiring to be with so many church planters and Anglican leaders committed to this initiative.

VOL: The latest word is that ACNA now has 800 churches, fast approaching 1,000. How soon do you see reaching the goal of 1,000?

Adkinson: Great question, David. Right now, the ACNA has 673 congregations plus 293 ministry partner congregations in the US and Canada. Anglican 1000 is working hard to catch up with which ones of these are new works. Presently, on the Anglican 1000 website, we have about 120 new works featured. These are new works of various sizes that have begun since 2009. We are also hearing about lots of works presently in the pipeline. So, we are steadily moving towards the goal. Most importantly, we are seeing that people are catching the vision for church planting in a way that will result in the multiplication of new leaders and new congregations being embedded in our DNA for the foreseeable future.

VOL: If and when you reach 1,000 new churches, is there a plan to plant 2,000 churches?

Adkinson: Well, we won't stop at 1000, that's for sure. But right now we are working with all Anglicans in North America across all jurisdictions of the ACNA. We have strong leadership from the AM, CANA, REC, and others in the ACNA. If everyone gets the vision for church planting...and clearly many, many have...I don't see why we can't keep planting.

VOL: Clearly your message is different from that of The Episcopal Church that sees issues like Millennium Development Goals as a part of their evangelism strategy. Were social issues on the table at this conference?

Adkinson: They were certainly on the table, but not the focus. Our churches are focused on proclaiming the Gospel in Word and Deed. So, for example, Dr. Keller talked about social issues as he has in his recent book Generous Justice while also talking about Gospel-centered revival preaching. We heard reports from the Anglican Relief and Development Fund and the Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee Company who certainly raised social issues. But, the focus is on planting churches that will reach people with the transforming love of Jesus Christ. That's the clear message.

VOL: The keynote speakers for the conference were Dr. Tim Keller and Bishop Todd Hunter. What was the central thrust of their messages?

Adkinson: They both focused on how church planting finds its moorings in the Mission of God - in the overall work of God as he reconciles and restores. They looked at church planting as a vital part of participating in this work with an emphasis on the Great Commission - focusing on those disconnected from God, on proclaiming the Gospel and making disciples.

VOL: The Great Commission was at the heart of mission, did these leaders teach about the reason for church planting and the need for contextualization?

Adkinson: Dr. Keller is known for saying that "The vigorous, continual planting of new congregations is the single most crucial strategy for 1) the numerical growth of the Body of Christ in any city, and 2) the continual corporate renewal and revival of the existing churches in a city. Nothing else--not crusades, outreach programs, para-church ministries, growing mega-churches, congregational consulting, nor church renewal processes--will have the consistent impact of dynamic, extensive church planting. This is an eyebrow raising statement. But to those who have done any study at all, it is not even controversial." The need for church planting was foundational for the conference, but we didn't spend as much time building this case. Most were already on the same page as far as that. We spent an entire plenary session with Dr. Keller looking at contextualization. You can find it on the resources section of the Anglican 1000 website or under our iTunes account.

VOL: Overall, both men said they rooted church planting in the Missio Dei - showing how church planting is part of the Mission of God; not simply a vehicle for denominational expansion or an end in itself. Is that a fair comment? If denominationalism is not that important to a generation of post-modern young people why is an Anglican approach so important?

Adkinson: I think it is a fair comment. Denominational expansion is one valid reason for planting. We're excited about the expansion that is taking place through the planting of new congregations. But, this is not crass franchising. We're more excited about the mission of these churches to reach their communities with the transforming love of Jesus Christ. Also, I think you are right that denominationalism is not a priority of young people. In fact, young people are more focused on "mere Christianity." They are Kingdom minded, humble, and look to foster unity. They are also increasingly globally minded, while yearning for roots and rootedness. Precisely because of those impulses, they are finding Anglicanism to be a wonderful place to live out those values.

VOL: You had plenary speakers, and Bible Study leaders that included successful church planter Dr. John Yates II of Falls Church, VA and Dr. John Yates III of Raleigh, NC challenge you to be focused on evangelism and to fuel it with prayer. In your opinion were they successful?

Adkinson: It was a real treat to have John Yates version 2.0 and version 3.0 with us as our Bible teachers. They had the task of speaking to us about self-care and family-care in the midst of ministry - specifically the pressure cooker of church planting. I thought they did a fantastic job.

VOL: ACNA Archbishop Robert Duncan praised this gathering and said it was a blessing to bear witness to the Christ-filled fellowship. He said he was humbled by how the Lord has chosen to spread the faith through the valiant mission of church planting. Is that a fair assessment of what he said?

Adkinson: That's definitely a fair assessment. I think we are all humbled and excited about the momentum of this movement. It feels like we have a tiger by the tail and we are just running to keep up.

VOL: Archbishop Duncan spoke of a vision that caught hold. He said it is a future that we all want to be part of. "What the Anglican 1000 Summit showed me is that there are increasing numbers of younger planters that are presenting themselves. The room was full of 20-30 year old missionaries...each of whom is crying out to God, 'Here I am, send me.'" IS that the future as you see it?

Adkinson: I think so. What the Archbishop is pointing out is that this new DNA is catching hold. We do have young church planters presenting themselves to be sent, but it is also exciting to see our seasoned leaders becoming focused on mentoring, praying for, and raising up these young leaders. This vision for missional Anglicanism has certainly caught hold of our imaginations as the way forward. It is so encouraging to see our leaders inspired by and working towards this new future instead of looking in their rear view mirror and overly focusing on the past struggles.

VOL: Chairman David Roseberry, said, "Anglican 1000 is a movement that is popping up everywhere. New churches are being planted, older churches are spinning off congregations, and bishops are tilling the field. It is hard to keep up with it. It is an idea whose time has clearly come. Would you agree with that assessment?

Adkinson: Absolutely - we had been looking for a common way forward that honors God. Now, we have found it as we participate in the Mission of God through church planting, which is why this movement is popping up everywhere.

VOL: The understanding of mission by this Anglican 1000 crowd is not the same as the concept of mission put out by The Episcopal Church. What are the differences and how would you account for your success?

Adkinson: It is certainly different, but first let me point out that I am part of a growing demographic in the Anglican Church because I was never part of the Episcopal Church. I came to Christ Church Plano, where I serve when it had already left. I have great respect and admiration for the struggle that our leaders have gone through - and are still going through in terms of ongoing litigation - but frankly the Episcopal Church is not really on our radar. If I had to boil down the difference, I think you could look at the taglines of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church. In a nutshell, the Episcopal Church says we "welcome you," which is a good first step in mission. But, the Anglican Church is reaching out with the "transforming love of Jesus Christ." The difference in understanding mission between these churches is the difference in "welcoming you" and "transforming you." The Episcopal Church is focused on accommodation. The Anglican Church is focused on Gospel-centered transformation.

VOL: Thank you, Fr. Adkinson

Fr. David Roseberry, at whose parish the conference was held said this, "It is clear to me that the vision for Anglican1000 has changed the subject for North American Anglicans from the business of the church to the mission of the church. Maybe we are learning that they are the same thing."

Bishop Todd Hunter (AMiA) and Rev. Tim Keller's messages can be heard here:

(Please use the links below) http://anglican1000.org/?/main/resources or on iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/anglican1000-org/id360177448

For updates on the Anglican 1000 movement, you can sign up for their e-newsletter on the Anglican 1000 website. You can also become a fan on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Anglican-1000/149860051734822 or follow them on Twitter http://twitter.com/anglican1000.O

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