by the Rev. Dr. Winfield Bevins
North America is the new mission field. In the United States alone there are over 130 million unchurched people, making it the largest mission field in the Western hemisphere and the fifth largest mission field on earth. With over 337 languages, the US has become the most multicultural and multilingual nation on earth. How will we reach the unchurched with the gospel of Jesus Christ? Dr. C. Peter Wagner said, “Church planting is the single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven.”
Church planting has to be a priority for the diocesan bishop if it is going to be the priority of the diocese. In 2012, Bishop Steve Wood called a strategic meeting to discuss developing a church planting strategy for the diocese. At that time we developed a diocesan strategy to start Kardia Church Planting Initiative with the vision to to plant healthy gospel-centered churches in the Anglican tradition. Since church planting was a major priority of our bishop, therefore it became a priority of the entire diocese. Kardia Church Planting Initiative focus on four key areas of mission:
- Plant: We seek to plant healthy gospel-centered churches in the Anglican tradition.
- Remission: We seek to help churches discover and live their mission by providing coaching, consulting, church health assessments, and training events for church leaders and local congregations.
- Resource: We seek to provide essential practitioner tested tools and resources to help plant and remission Anglican churches in North America.
- Partner: We seek to build strategic partnerships with likeminded dioceses, churches, and clergy in North America.
Church planting has been a priority from the early foundations of our diocese. In an 2012 article on the formation of the Diocese of the Carolinas a few key clergy shared their hopes for the diocese to become a church planting diocese. The Rev. Filmore Strunk, Rector of All Saints Church, Charlotte, North Carolina, who was instrumental in the formation of the diocese says, “We are a Great Commission diocese focused on seeking worshippers, making disciples and providing for a diversity of worship styles. We see church planting as the main vehicle for that.” In a similar way, The Rev. Dr. John W. Yates, III, Rector of Holy Trinity Church, Raleigh, North Carolina, describes the diocesan vision for church planting. “As our bishop, Steve has made that priority clear, and I believe we are going to have a robust vocation for planting new churches.”[i]Vision has become a reality in the Diocese of the Carolinas. Since 2012, the Diocese has helped plant 10 new churches in addition to resourcing dozens of new and existing churches. To accomplish this we have developed strategic resources to help assess, train, and support church planters. First, we developed a church planting assessment manual that has helped assess more than a dozen church planters in the Carolinas and is the being used by the Always Forward Provincial Church Planting Team.Secondly, our diocese gives a major portion of our annual budget to church planting. In the words of Bishop Steve Wood, “we have put our resources behind the vision, and so a substantial portion of our budget is earmarked for mission and church planting. Resources and structures should be designed to facilitate mission and church planting.”
Thirdly, the diocese is set up to help coach and support the church planters. There is a regional lead team that helps support the work of church planting across the Carolinas by coaching church planters. Gary Ball, who recently planted Redeemer Anglican Church in Ashville, North Carolina reveals that “church planting can be lonely and discouraging. It’s so helpful to have someone to walk alongside us.” Mentoring and coaching is vital to vision for church planting in the Diocese of the Carolinas.
Get Involved with Church Planting
The call to plant new churches is bigger than any one diocese, church, or individual. Everyone has a part to play in God’s mission through church planting. It will take us all working together to make this God-sized dream a reality. We can do it if we all share in the responsibility of impacting our nation for Christ through planting new churches across the Carolinas and beyond. If you would like more information about Kardia Church Planting Initiative visit www.kardiaanglican.com.
BIO: The Rev. Dr. Winfield Bevins is the Director of Asbury Seminary’s Church Planting Initiative and Canon for Church Planting for the Diocese of the Carolinas
[i] See Building Gospel Churches: Diocese of the Carolinas Commits to Mission Through Church Planting by Cynthia Brust, The Apostle, November, 2012, 11.