Rev. Karl Schafer, Pastor : What is the vision for RiverCross The vision of Rive...
All of us want to participate in something bigger than ourselves, to be connected not only to a congregation but to a movement — to be part of advancing God’s Kingdom. Church planting is a way for every leader and congregation to be connected to and invested in proclaiming Christ around the country.
I am so excited and grateful that God has placed church planting into ECO’s DNA. One of ECO’s core values is “Kingdom Vitality,” which is defined by saying, “we believe congregations should vigorously reproduce new missional communities to expand the Kingdom of God.” By the grace of God, together we desire to create a church planting “pipeline” that identifies promising missional leaders, equips them, assesses them, coaches them in cohorts, and helps them plant and multiply missional communities.
Amazingly, right here in the Pacific Northwest (one of the least churched parts of the country), we have the opportunity to launch one of ECO’s first regional church planting networks, which is a group of church planters and church-planting churches. This network will likely begin with four planters — representing Seattle, Central Oregon, and Southern Oregon — and me as the facilitator, and we hope for it to grow. We want to pour deeply into these planters and give them monthly face-to-face gatherings to share lessons from the field and be inspired, as well as relax and have some fun! We’re also trying to figure out creative ways to fund this new effort to bring planters together on a regional basis.
Remember, God has placed church planting at the heart of ECO’s evangelistic and missional efforts and we can all participate. Here are some ways every congregation can get on board:
- Encourage missional leaders in your congregation to consider starting a new missional community (using a resource such as the Tangible Kingdom Primer) or pursuing Church Planter Assessment.
- Encourage your congregation to set aside 1-3% of your operating budget and a 10% tithe of any capital campaign toward ECO church planting.
- Consider becoming a church planting apprentice site, where potential church planters may serve for six months to two years in preparation for planting their own church.
As my friend Matt said, ECO itself is a “denomination plant.” Just as churches are planted to bear witness to the Gospel in a particular city, so denominations are planted to bear witness to the Gospel in a particular time in the life of God’s people. We have a unique opportunity during this startup phase to embed Kingdom Vitality into the heart of what it means to be ECO. And that’s something worth giving ourselves to.