A Family Of Churches Along The Wasatch Front
We are engaging #4 of the Least Reached Metro Areas in the U.S.
|St. George, UT||2,345||1.7|
|Barnstable Town, MA||5,281||2.5|
|Salt Lake City, UT||29,498||2.6|
|Providence-New Bedford-Fall River, RI-MA||45,007||2.8|
|Norwich-New London, CT||9,320||3.4|
|Glens Falls, NY||4,502||3.5|
We are praying that God would bring forth a Church Planting Movement in Northern Utah.
CHURCH PLANTING MOVEMENT (CPM definition) – A rapid and multiplicative increase of indigenous churches planting churches within a given people group or population segment.
Qualities & Characteristics Present in EVERY Church Planting Movement
- Prayer – Prayer in our personal lives and corporate life that has such vitality that it leads to imitation. By revealing from the beginning that the source of their power is prayer, the missionaries effectively give away the greatest resource they bring to the assignment.
- Abundant Gospel Sowing – In CP Movements, hundreds and even thousands of individuals are hearing the claims that Jesus Christ has on their lives. This sowing often relies heavily on mass media evangelism and personal evangelism with vivid testimonies of the life-changing power of the Gospel.
- Intentional Church Planting – In every CP Movement, someone implemented a strategy of deliberate church planting before the movement got under way. Churches don’t just happen!
- Scriptural Authority – The Bible was almost always translated into the heart language of the people. In every instance, Scripture provided the rudder for the church’s life, and it’s authority was unquestioned.
- Local Leadership – Missionaries must have the self-discipline required to mentor church planters rather than do the job of church planting themselves. Walking alongside local church planters is the first step in cultivating and establishing local leadership.
- Lay Leadership – CP Movements are driven by lay and bi-vocational leaders. This reliance upon lay leadership ensures the largest pool of potential church planters and house church leaders.
- Cell or House Churches – Church buildings do appear in CP Movements. However, the vast majority of the churches continue to be small, reproducible cell churches of 10-30 members meeting in homes and storefronts.
- Churches Planting Churches – In most CP Movements, the first churches were planted by missionaries. At some point, however, as the movements entered a multiplicative phase of reproduction, the churches themselves began planting churches. In order for this to occur, church members have to believe that reproduction is natural and the no external aids are needed to start the new church.
- Rapid Reproduction – When rapid reproduction is taking place, you can be assured that the churches are unencumbered by nonessential elements and the laity are fully empowered to participate in this work of God.
- Healthy Churches – When the following 5 health indicators are strong, the church can’t help but grow. Church families were centered around worship, evangelism, service, education, & fellowship.
Qualities & Characteristics Present in MOST Church Planting Movements
- Worship in Heart Language – Missionaries who identify and embrace the heart language of the people they are trying to reach are well positioned to stimulate a CP Movement. Nothing reveals a people group’s worldview as much as an intimate knowledge of their heart language.
- Evangelism has Communal Implications – CP Movements typically rely on a much stronger family and social connection. New believers are encouraged to follow the web of their own family relationships to draw new believers into the community of faith.
- Rapid Incorporation of New Converts into the Life and Ministry of the Church – New believers are expected to become witnesses immediately; these new disciples immediately become disciplers of others.
- Passion and Fearlessness – CP Movements are characterized by a sense of urgency that attests to the importance of salvation and the necessity of conversion.
- A Price to Pay to Become a Christian – CP Movements often emerge in difficult settings where conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ is not a popular or socially advantageous thing to do.
- Perceived Leadership Crisis or Spiritual Vacuum in Society – The removal of long-held leadership, national symbols of stability and security, prompts individuals to reconsider matters of eternal significance.
- On-the-job Training for Church Leadership – The most beneficial training brings education as close to the action as possible.
- Leadership Authority is Decentralized – It is important that each House Church and its leader(s) has all the authority required to do whatever needs to be done in terms of evangelism, ministry and church planting without seeking approval from a church hierarchy.
- Outsiders Keep a Low Profile – A key concern is for missionaries to minimize foreignness and encourage indigeneity. Momentum quickly comes from within the movement instead of from outside professionals.
- Missionaries Suffer – Most of the time a missionary’s life reads like a catalog of calamity. Many have suffered illness, derision, and shame. Some students of CP Movements suggest that the affliction may be related to a higher spiritual price required for rolling back the darkness.
Common OBSTACLES to Church Planting Movements
- Imposing Extra-Biblical Requirements for Being a Church – When a mission or convention attempts to require a congregation to have extra-biblical things such as land, a building, seminary-trained leadership or paid clergy before granting them full status as a church.
- Loss of a Valued Cultural Identity – When people have to abandon their valued ethnic identity and adopt an alien culture in order to become believers, the cause of church planting won’t go far.
- Overcoming Bad Examples of Christianity – If older churches in an area have non-regenerate members who engage in worldly and immoral behavior, it will be difficult for new believers to convince the lost that the Christian faith is holy and capable of redeeming the world. Or whenever older churches in that area feel no compulsion to spread their faith, new believers may question why they should be passionate or urgent in evangelism.
- Non-reproducible Church Models – Whenever missionaries begin planting churches with components that cannot be reproduced by the people themselves, they have undermined a CP Movement (buildings, seminary educations…).
- Subsidies Created Dependency – Any time the gospel is introduced to a new people group, external support is required. The problem is when outside funding creates dependency among new Christians, stifling their initiative and quenching a CP Movement.
- Extra-Biblical Leadership Requirements – Whenever requirements are imposed for church leaders that exceed those stipulated by the New Testament, a CP Movement is impeded.
- Planting “Frog” Rather than “Lizzard” Churches – Frog churches see themselves as ends in themselves, sitting fat and complacent on a hill or lily pad (or mains street), expecting the lost to come to them in search of salvation. Frog churches hold meetings in places where they feel comfortable and require the lost to adapt to their froggy world. Lizard churches are always pursuing the lost. Adaptable and ready for action, they move quickly into the world through cracks and crevices seeking the lost.
Summary of Church Planting Movements by David Garrison, Office of Oversees Operations of the International Mission Board of the SBC (full document – churchplantingmovements.com/images/stories/CPM_Profiles/cpm_booklet_standard_english.pdf)
Everyone would expect a new church to begin by meeting in a home. A group consisting of only fifteen or twenty people would not need a larger meeting place, and the costs involved in buying or renting any sort of building would be prohibitive. So when we say that we are meeting in homes, most of our friends in other churches understand. But when they learn that it is our intention to continue meeting in homes no matter how large we get, curious eyebrows often begin to raise.
The idea of a church meeting in a home does not easily fit into the paradigm of American evangelicalism. For hundreds of years now, the idea of the church has been almost universally associated with a central meeting place—a church building. Even though the biblically informed Christian knows that the church is people, not a building, it remains almost impossible for some to escape the association between a particular local church and the building in which that church gathers.
We understand that when a society has grown up with an idea—a tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation—a departure from that tradition can seem strange or even wrong. We do not fault those who question our practice, or those who are not convinced of its benefits, nor do we condemn the longstanding tradition of churches meeting in large central buildings. Too many examples of excellence within that tradition, both historically and currently, could be brought forth in its defense. Our intent is simply to offer several reasons why we want to continue using homes as our primary context for meetings, and to demonstrate that our practice is valid and biblically sound.
THE FIRST CHRISTIANS MET IN HOMES: The New Testament (Acts 2:46; 5:42; 12:12; Romans 16:5, 23; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 1-2…) and early church history affirm that homes were the predominant setting for the gatherings of the church. These facts do not constitute a mandate for Christians to meet exclusively in homes, but they do establish a solid precedent. Certainly every group of Christians is free to gather in whatever setting they choose. But it is hard to imagine improving upon the model God used for the birth of His church and the spread of the Gospel to all the known world (Acts 17:6; 24:5; Colossians 1:5-6).
A NATURAL SETTING FOR BODY LIFE: As the New Testament writers painted a picture of the church, more often than not they used the concept of family and family relationships (brothers, sisters, household of God…). We find that coming together in a home environment continues to reinforce the family identity. This type of church life certainly can take place in a sanctuary setting. But in the home it is natural – it is built in – it is virtually guaranteed! And think of this: Even as we grow in numbers, we will never lose the familiarity and intimacy that we have experienced in our beginnings. Instead, we will be forming new churches – teaching others how to experience this same kind of rich, familial body life.
THE DESIGN FOR NEW TESTAMENT INSTRUCTIONS: The New Testament is filled with instructions for the life and health of the church. It takes no profound reasoning to conclude that when the New Testament authors gave written instructions to the church, they were writing in light of what they knew the church to be—smaller groups of people gathering together. Now think about this: If the church were later transformed into something that had never been seen or anticipated by the authors of the New Testament, the instructions they gave to the early church might not be as readily applicable to the new form.
As an example, consider this principle in light of all of the “one another’s” in the New Testament—the commands to know, love, guard, and care for our brothers and sisters in Christ (i.e. John 13:34-35; Romans 12:10; Galatians 6:1,10; Colossians 3:12-16; 1 John 3:16-17). Certainly these are faithfully kept in many larger assemblies, but it seems impossible to overlook the fact that increased size usually means increased difficulty in keeping them consistently—the increased potential that at least some will fall through the cracks. And it also seems evident that in order to keep these commands to love and care for one another, larger bodies need added structures and programs which in turn necessitate additional burdens of administration.
We could multiply examples. But suffice it to say that in at least this one case, the instructions are much easier to follow consistently in smaller groups. We would even suggest that these instructions were designed for small gatherings of believers.
A WELL-TENDED CHURCH: Pastors have the God-given responsibility to diligently feed, guard, and care for whatever flock has been entrusted to them (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2-3). They are also informed that they will one day give an account of their care to the Chief Shepherd (Hebrews 13:17; James 3:1; 1 Peter 5:4). Any pastor who takes this responsibility and accountability seriously should shudder at the thought of giving an account for two hundred people, let alone two thousand or more.
Our house churches are led individually by men who are biblically qualified as elders/pastors (1 Timothy 3; Titus 1). This means that each elder is responsible for the care of as few as ten or fifteen, and as many as forty or fifty people. And as the Lord provides, home congregations will have more than one elder, thus enhancing the care for the members. By having multiple home congregations with multiple elders, we will be establishing an extremely broad leadership base. All of this should result in a well-tended flock.
A PROVEN PATTERN OF EXPANSION: Churches who gather in homes can facilitate expansion and multiplication while at the same time maintaining an ideal setting for discipleship. Consider again the rapid growth of the early church. Between Pentecost and 70 AD the church experienced the most phenomenal growth in its history, spreading from a mere handful of believers in Judea, all throughout the Mediterranean world—even as far as Ethiopia and Spain! And most scholars agree that all of this was accomplished using private homes as the primary gathering place. So what kind of “church growth plan” did the early church use? Consider the following theoretical mathematical potential for a church structure such as ours.
Beginning with a single house church with an ongoing average membership of only twelve people, allow for that group to reproduce itself in the form of a second group after eighteen months. Then allow for each of those groups to reproduce during the next eighteen months—and so on. Allowing for growth and loss within each group, but maintaining the yearly group average of only twelve members (a very conservative estimate of group size), after 6 years, the church would have 192 members. After 12 years, it would be approaching mega-church range with 3,072 members. After 15 years, it would definitely be creating a stir among church-growth analysts with 12,288 members. After 18 years, the numbers would be getting ridiculous with 49,152 members. And after 21 years, the overall membership of the church would be 196,608!
As you can see, our philosophy of expansion has potential equal to, if not greater than any other. In addition, we believe it is difficult to find a church planting movement (CPM = A rapid and multiplicative increase of indigenous churches planting churches within a given people group or population segment.) in the history of the Church that did not play out primarily through this type of paradigm.
A WISE USE OF RESOURCES: Under this structure we can maximize our financial resources for benevolence, elder support (normally bi-vocational in nature), local and global missions, rather than building expenses and facility administration (Acts 2:44-45; 11:29-30; 2 Corinthians 9:6-9; Philippians 4:15-19; 1 Timothy 5:17-18). We certainly have financial needs, but they are minimal when compared to the expenses necessary for the maintenance, and particularly the growth, of a traditional church model.
Adapted from “Why Meet In Homes?” by Christ Fellowship KC (ChristFellowshipKC.org)
The Tri-une God
We believe in one God, eternally existing in three equally divine Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, who know, love, and glorify one another. This one true and living God is infinitely perfect both in his love and in his holiness. He is the Creator of all things, visible and invisible, and is therefore worthy to receive all glory and adoration. Immortal and eternal, he perfectly and exhaustively knows the end from the beginning, sustains and sovereignly rules over all things, and providentially brings about his eternal good purposes to redeem a people for himself and restore his fallen creation, to the praise of his glorious grace.
God has graciously disclosed his existence and power in the created order, and has supremely revealed himself to fallen human beings in the person of his Son, the incarnate Word. Moreover, this God is a speaking God who by his Spirit has graciously disclosed himself in human words: we believe that God has inspired the words preserved in the Scriptures, the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments, which are both record and means of his saving work in the world. These writings alone constitute the verbally inspired Word of God, which is utterly authoritative and without error in the original writings, complete in its revelation of his will for salvation, sufficient for all that God requires us to believe and do, and final in its authority over every domain of knowledge to which it speaks. We confess that both our finitude and our sinfulness preclude the possibility of knowing God’s truth exhaustively, but we affirm that, enlightened by the Spirit of God, we can know God’s revealed truth truly. The Bible is to be believed, as God’s instruction, in all that it teaches; obeyed, as God’s command, in all that it requires; and trusted, as God’s pledge, in all that it promises. As God’s people hear, believe, and do the Word, they are equipped as disciples of Christ and witnesses to the gospel.
Creation of Humanity
We believe that God created human beings, male and female, in his own image. Adam and Eve belonged to the created order that God himself declared to be very good, serving as God’s agents to care for, manage, and govern creation, living in holy and devoted fellowship with their Maker. Men and women, equally made in the image of God, enjoy equal access to God by faith in Christ Jesus and are both called to move beyond passive self-indulgence to significant private and public engagement in family, church, and civic life. Adam and Eve were made to complement each other in a one-flesh union that establishes the only normative pattern of sexual relations for men and women, such that marriage ultimately serves as a type of the union between Christ and his church. In God’s wise purposes, men and women are not simply interchangeable, but rather they complement each other in mutually enriching ways. God ordains that they assume distinctive roles which reflect the loving relationship between Christ and the church, the husband exercising headship in a way that displays the caring, sacrificial love of Christ, and the wife submitting to her husband in a way that models the love of the church for her Lord. In the ministry of the church, both men and women are encouraged to serve Christ and to be developed to their full potential in the manifold ministries of the people of God. The distinctive leadership role within the church given to qualified men is grounded in creation, fall, and redemption and must not be sidelined by appeals to cultural developments.
We believe that Adam, made in the image of God, distorted that image and forfeited his original blessedness—for himself and all his progeny—by falling into sin through Satan’s temptation. As a result, all human beings are alienated from God, corrupted in every aspect of their being (e.g., physically, mentally, volitionally, emotionally, spiritually) and condemned finally and irrevocably to death—apart from God’s own gracious intervention. The supreme need of all human beings is to be reconciled to the God under whose just and holy wrath we stand; the only hope of all human beings is the undeserved love of this same God, who alone can rescue us and restore us to himself.
The Plan of God
We believe that from all eternity God determined in grace to save a great multitude of guilty sinners from every tribe and language and people and nation, and to this end foreknew them and chose them. We believe that God justifies and sanctifies those who by grace have faith in Jesus, and that he will one day glorify them—all to the praise of his glorious grace. In love God commands and implores all people to repent and believe, having set his saving love on those he has chosen and having ordained Christ to be their Redeemer.
We believe that the gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ—God’s very wisdom. Utter folly to the world, even though it is the power of God to those who are being saved, this good news is christological, centering on the cross and resurrection: the gospel is not proclaimed if Christ is not proclaimed, and the authentic Christ has not been proclaimed if his death and resurrection are not central (the message is “Christ died for our sins . . . [and] was raised”). This good news is biblical (his death and resurrection are according to the Scriptures), theological and salvific (Christ died for our sins, to reconcile us to God), historical (if the saving events did not happen, our faith is worthless, we are still in our sins, and we are to be pitied more than all others), apostolic (the message was entrusted to and transmitted by the apostles, who were witnesses of these saving events), and intensely personal (where it is received, believed, and held firmly, individual persons are saved).
The Redemption of Christ
We believe that, moved by love and in obedience to his Father, the eternal Son became human: the Word became flesh, fully God and fully human being, one Person in two natures. The man Jesus, the promised Messiah of Israel, was conceived through the miraculous agency of the Holy Spirit, and was born of the virgin Mary. He perfectly obeyed his heavenly Father, lived a sinless life, performed miraculous signs, was crucified under Pontius Pilate, arose bodily from the dead on the third day, and ascended into heaven. As the mediatorial King, he is seated at the right hand of God the Father, exercising in heaven and on earth all of God’s sovereignty, and is our High Priest and righteous Advocate. We believe that by his incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension, Jesus Christ acted as our representative and substitute. He did this so that in him we might become the righteousness of God: on the cross he canceled sin, propitiated God, and, by bearing the full penalty of our sins, reconciled to God all those who believe. By his resurrection Christ Jesus was vindicated by his Father, broke the power of death and defeated Satan who once had power over it, and brought everlasting life to all his people; by his ascension he has been forever exalted as Lord and has prepared a place for us to be with him. We believe that salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name given under heaven by which we must be saved. Because God chose the lowly things of this world, the despised things, the things that are not, to nullify the things that are, no human being can ever boast before him—Christ Jesus has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption.
The Justification of Sinners
We believe that Christ, by his obedience and death, fully discharged the debt of all those who are justified. By his sacrifice, he bore in our stead the punishment due us for our sins, making a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God’s justice on our behalf. By his perfect obedience he satisfied the just demands of God on our behalf, since by faith alone that perfect obedience is credited to all who trust in Christ alone for their acceptance with God. Inasmuch as Christ was given by the Father for us, and his obedience and punishment were accepted in place of our own, freely and not for anything in us, this justification is solely of free grace, in order that both the exact justice and the rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners. We believe that a zeal for personal and public obedience flows from this free justification.
The Power of the Holy Spirit
We believe that this salvation, attested in all Scripture and secured by Jesus Christ, is applied to his people by the Holy Spirit. Sent by the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ, and, as the Paraclete, is present with and in believers. He convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment, and by his powerful and mysterious work regenerates spiritually dead sinners, awakening them to repentance and faith, baptizing them into union with the Lord Jesus, such that they are justified before God by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. By the Spirit’s agency, believers are renewed, sanctified, and adopted into God’s family; they participate in the divine nature and receive his sovereignly distributed gifts. The Holy Spirit is himself the down payment of the promised inheritance, and in this age indwells, guides, instructs, equips, revives, and empowers believers for Christ-like living and service.
The Kingdom of God
We believe that those who have been saved by the grace of God through union with Christ by faith and through regeneration by the Holy Spirit enter the kingdom of God and delight in the blessings of the new covenant: the forgiveness of sins, the inward transformation that awakens a desire to glorify, trust, and obey God, and the prospect of the glory yet to be revealed. Good works constitute indispensable evidence of saving grace. Living as salt in a world that is decaying and light in a world that is dark, believers should neither withdraw into seclusion from the world, nor become indistinguishable from it: rather, we are to do good to the city, for all the glory and honor of the nations is to be offered up to the living God. Recognizing whose created order this is, and because we are citizens of God’s kingdom, we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, doing good to all, especially to those who belong to the household of God. The kingdom of God, already present but not fully realized, is the exercise of God’s sovereignty in the world toward the eventual redemption of all creation. The kingdom of God is an invasive power that plunders Satan’s dark kingdom and regenerates and renovates through repentance and faith the lives of individuals rescued from that kingdom. It therefore inevitably establishes a new community of human life together under God.
God’s New People
We believe that God’s new covenant people have already come to the heavenly Jerusalem; they are already seated with Christ in the heavenlies. This universal church is manifest in local churches of which Christ is the only Head; thus each “local church” is, in fact, the church, the household of God, the assembly of the living God, and the pillar and foundation of the truth. The church is the body of Christ, the apple of his eye, graven on his hands, and he has pledged himself to her forever. The church is distinguished by her gospel message, her sacred ordinances, her discipline, her great mission, and, above all, by her love for God, and by her members’ love for one another and for the world. Crucially, this gospel we cherish has both personal and corporate dimensions, neither of which may properly be overlooked. Christ Jesus is our peace: he has not only brought about peace with God, but also peace between alienated peoples. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both Jew and Gentile to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. The church serves as a sign of God’s future new world when its members live for the service of one another and their neighbors, rather than for self-focus. The church is the corporate dwelling place of God’s Spirit, and the continuing witness to God in the world.
Baptism and the Lord’s Supper
We believe that baptism and the Lord’s Supper are ordained by the Lord Jesus himself. The former is connected with entrance into the new covenant community, the latter with ongoing covenant renewal. Together they are simultaneously God’s pledge to us, divinely ordained means of grace, our public vows of submission to the once crucified and now resurrected Christ, and anticipations of his return and of the consummation of all things.
The Restoration of All Things
We believe in the personal, glorious, and bodily return of our Lord Jesus Christ with his holy angels, when he will exercise his role as final Judge, and his kingdom will be consummated. We believe in the bodily resurrection of both the just and the unjust—the unjust to judgment and eternal conscious punishment in hell, as our Lord himself taught, and the just to eternal blessedness in the presence of him who sits on the throne and of the Lamb, in the new heaven and the new earth, the home of righteousness. On that day the church will be presented faultless before God by the obedience, suffering and triumph of Christ, all sin purged and its wretched effects forever banished. God will be all in all and his people will be enthralled by the immediacy of his ineffable holiness, and everything will be to the praise of his glorious grace.
Our Confessional Statement is taken from The Gospel Coalition (http://thegospelcoalition.org/about/foundation-documents/confessional/)
CHRIST FELLOWSHIP also believes The 2000 Baptist Faith & Message as it is rooted in the Scriptures and centered on the Gospel.
I BELIEVE THE GOSPEL is the power of God for my salvation through faith in the work of Jesus Christ and for the purpose of God’s glory. Because of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, I believe I have been given a new identity in Christ. As a follower of Jesus, I have been baptized by immersion and desire to participate in the Gospel with Christ Fellowship.
I BELIEVE THE BIBLE alone is our final authority in belief and practice. Because I am indwelt by the Spirit of God, my desire is to walk as Jesus walked for God’s glory and my joy. Therefore, I expect my church family to compel me toward this end and call me to repentance if my thoughts and actions are not in line with His Word. Likewise, I commit to speaking the truth in love to my church family as part of God’s predestined plan to conform them to the image of His Son.
I BELIEVE THE CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT to be an accurate summary of biblical truth. I will work toward doctrinal unity with a humble and teachable spirit. Where there is disagreement or a lack of understanding regarding any biblical convictions, I will assume the liberty to ask questions and engage in edifying discussion. In addition, I believe the elders/pastors have been called of God to keep watch over this church as those who will give an account to Him. Therefore, if differences arise I will not undermine the leadership of Christ Fellowship by causing divisions and quarrels. I will let them lead the church and shepherd me with joy and not with grief.
I BELIEVE THE CHURCH is God’s family on mission sent to serve our world and continually learn to walk in His ways. I understand that within this statement are powerful implications for the way in which I am committing to love this family and live my life for the purpose of spreading the Gospel to the nations. By God’s grace and in His strength, I am willing to deny myself, take up my cross and follow Jesus with this church for His glory.