RIDGECREST, NC: Growing Excitement that God is doing a New Thing with North American Anglicans
Missiologist urges Anglicans to be in the forefront of church planting
By David W. Virtue in Ridgecrest, NC
June 8, 2012
For the 700 delegates from 16 countries gathered here in Ridgecrest, NC that includes a number of archbishops and bishops from the Global South, it is apparent that the realignment, one might say the rebirth of authentic Anglicanism is now truly underway. Nothing it seems can stop it.
From the dark days when he was tossed out of the Episcopal Church as a bishop to his escalation as Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, it has been a long hard ride for Robert Duncan. That he has achieved it while drawing together a group of loosely-knit, very independent-minded Anglicans of more stripes than Joseph's coat of many colors, is no small achievement.
He has walked through ecclesiastical minefields, stood tall against raging egos, pushed and cajoled a group of Anglican leaders whose turf they jealously guard and brought them together under one roof. Out of it has come the Anglican Church in North America. There are enough purple shirts here that should mildly worry The Episcopal Church.
However, these Anglicans all have one thing in common - a single goal if you will and it is not women's ordination, which Prayer Book to use or the precise garments to wear. It is that they are all solidly and historically Anglicans, who hold Scripture to be primary, demand personal faith and trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord along with the belief that they are truly catholic, have history on their side, and a liturgical coherence that is solidly Scriptural.
This group is not remotely interested in going to Rome, lapsing into Methodism or Lutheranism or even to the Orthodox Church, though they welcomed ecumenical partnerships here this week with all these groups. Archbishop Duncan is steering his barque between the Scylla of liberalism and revisionism and the Charybdis of Catholicism, all the while maintaining a solid Anglican identity. He has taken the faithful remnant of The Episcopal Church and more recently those who have left the AMIA, forming new dioceses across the nation, invited dual citizenship with CANA and other Anglican ministries and tied his fledgling ship to the fast-growing Global South Anglican Communion. He is a fellow FCA/GAFCON Primate.
He has now launched out into the deep caroling his small flotilla of ships into believing that they can start 1,000 new Anglican parishes in North America over the next five years. It is a tall order, but by all accounts doable.
Despite the plethora of purple shirts here, it is interesting to observe that the person who is center stage at this 4th ACNA Assembly 2012 is not a bishop or an archbishop but an outsider, a voluble, highly verbal church planter expert, author and teacher in the person of the Rev. Dr. Ed Stetzer who has planted, revitalized and pastored churches in four states. He has trained pastors and church planters on five continents, holds two doctorates and has written dozens of articles and books. He is a Visiting Professor of research and Missiology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Illinois and is V-P of research and Ministry development for LifeWay Christian resources.
He mesmerized his audience by telling them that he came to know Christ in an Anglican Church and therefore knows how to speak Anglican.
Here are some of his more memorable one-liners:
"Our mission is the gospel as we press forward into God's kingdom agenda."
"God is a sending God, He is a sender by nature."
"How does the church be an engine of disciple making at ASSEMBLY 2012?"
"Evangelicals behave badly with statistics. The negative is the persecution of the church in culture today."
"We did some studies to find out the perception of the church. 7 out of 10 unchurched said the church was full of hypocrites. 8 out 10 said that Christianity today is more about organized religion than loving God and loving others."
"Another perception, spiritual in religion is good. Religion (itself) is bad."
"46% of North Americans say that Christians get on their nerves. Figures are a little lower in Canada."
"The stumbling block of the cross is replaced by the stumbling block of the church."
"Congregations are filled with spectators not disciples for Christ and are not agents of God's kingdom agenda."
"A lot of Christians are frustrated with the Church and think it now looks more like Shrek."
"The church is not a new mistress of social action but is a deeper love for Christ and his bride. So you can't despise the church...help her to become engine of disciple making. Be the bride she is. The Church must be the engine of discipleship...all Christians have gifts."
"A study of 7,000 Protestant churches revealed that the majority of people in the majority of churches were unengaged in meaningful ministry or mission. Most people are passive spectators rather than active ministers."
"We are pastoring churches filled with religious consumers and not co-laborers engaged in God's mission. It is easier to pander to customers than co-laborers."
"People are watching the show and not joining the circus."
"People love Anglicanism. People are attracted to Anglicanism; it is frightening as it draws people to come to be consumers. We provide, spiritually satisfying services, wonderfully expressed and you end up with a room full of people who watch you do it."
"You watch the show you end up a show goer."
"We build churches like theaters. They become a sacred space but they are there to watch and not equipped to do."
"When you treat people like customers and consumers it becomes the language of clergy and laity."
"My job is to clergy AND laity. My job is to pray, pay and to stay out of our way."
"Three quarters of church goers are objects of the ministry instead of partners of the ministry."
"Everyone should serve others."
"The majority of people in the majority of churches are unengaged in meaningful ministry. "All have gifts. God intends all to use. We should be good managers of the very grace of God. We are stewards and managers."
"All of God's people are called to the ministry: John 20:21."
"All are sent on mission, the only question is where and among whom."
"The Church not a store but an equipping center. We are to serve and be sent."
"We are not a consumer church but an engine of discipleship."
"Most churches are stuck, stacked and declining. The word is codependence. Co-dependence is one side of the mutually unhealthy religious dependent who has certain needs. The co-dependent meets those needs in an unhealthy way. When you choose to break the cycle of co-dependence they will be mad and then thank you."
"People don't get discipled when they are treated them like customers."
"The church is the engine of discipleship that glorifies God." - Eph. 4
Later Stetzer said he had spoken to more Anglican groups than any other group.
"Evangelism and church planting are at a unique kairos moment."
"Leave historical battles in the rear view mirror."
"Anglicanism is the siren like call to evangelicals dissatisfied with the modern pablum of the modern evangelical movement."
"Churches that plant churches, plant more churches."
1. Multiply everything: disciples, ministries, groups and churches. You cannot lead what you do not live. 2. Model multiplication: What you celebrate you become. Example: Nigeria is now 45% Christian 45% Muslim and 10% Animist. 3. Let churches lead. 4. Welcome the church planter. Contextualize vs. contend. Church planters contextualize. But contending for the faith still needed. 5. Define missional well. The Kingdom of God births the work in its wake. The church is central to God's plan. Jesus is the center of God's plan. Of redemption.
When the disciples heard Jesus and his commission, He sent them on mission and they went out and planted churches.
6. Plant by multiplication and not funding. Don't give a lot of money to church planters. 7. If you throw a lot of money it kills the work, it doesn't help. It creates dependence. We found in our research that there was no discernible difference giving $30,000 and half a million. 8. Be born pregnant. Check WALMART. Open more lanes: ethnic, lay, urban, bi-vocational etc. Look less like parish priests and more like pastors. Open up more lanes. 10. Give permission. Read missiologist Roland Allen. He made the case for voluntary clergy. Your growing provinces are giving permission to people. 11. Overcome fear. One is always fearful, it is always a risk. Overcome fear and multiply.
"What you celebrate you become. If you celebrate church planting the end result is you become more of that. The church is to be the engine of church planting around the world.>
"The Early Church was marked by an overwhelming passion to plant churches. Jesus mentions the church twice and the kingdom 80 times."
"Upon Peter's confession I will build my church, stands the truth. The church is the vanguard tool, the instrument vessel of God's agenda."
"Jesus gave four commissions: We are to be Missional, Mission minded, Gospel minded and Spirit empowered."
On Missional. John 20:19 1.
"We are sent. People were behind closed doors, fearful of community. They were given a promise that accompanies commission, the promise of peace, "peace to you...even as the Father has sent me so I send you."
"We are to live in a missional way. Mission is the activity of God's purpose."
"More Christians look like they have arrived rather than being sent."
"Church should not be a cul-de-sac on the Great Commission highway."
"Most churches in America are in cul-de-sacs. Are you down by the Dead Sea, have you not given out. Is your church the engine of church planting or is it not."
"The church is the engine for discipleship."
"Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter."
"Most people are pastoring sterile churches because they don't see them as God's agent of change."
"To all peoples, "go make disciples of all nations...."
Nations = peoples not a geographic boundaries but cultural linguistic boundaries.
My denomination loves church planting as long as someone else is doing it.
You are never not too small.
You cannot lose this passage of Scripture and miss the nations.
Have a global vision.
The engine of church panting is the local church it is your neighbor and the nations.
EXAMPLE: 70 million Turks around the world now devoid of gospel witness even though the First seven Ecumenical Councils were held in Turkey. The nations need Jesus.
There are 584 unreached, unengaged people groups in the US.
Our church is reaching out to Kurdish refugees. Nashville, TN is the center of Kurdish refugees in the US.
What if ACNA looked like the Global South?"
Read Luke 24:46.
"You have suffered much as a movement and many of you have lost buildings, but you have stood for the gospel."
"You are a people passionate for rescuing the gospel but timid in proclaiming it. There is never a culturally accepted way to proclaim this message."
"You gotta get more comfortable sharing your faith."
"There is no one model for church planting. There are mega churches in South Korea and house churches in China...but hold the message firmly."
"We must be empowered by the Spirit. We should have more interest in preaching the Gospel than preaching about the End Times. You can always draw a crowd about teaching about Sex, the End Times, or will there be Sex in the End Times." (laughter)
"The Bible is not about us it is about God."
"Mission is from everywhere to everywhere."
"North American Anglicanism is at a moment in history. You should not be looking through the rear mirror. It is what now fills the windshield."
"Show them a movement and a message that is from God to the unchurched."
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