For Church Planting Apprenticeships
And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.
II Timothy 2:2
Mission to North America
James C. Bland III, Coordinator
Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us in Acts 1:8 that the Church will be empowered by his Spirit to reach the world with the Gospel. With the assurance of this promise, and in obedience to the Great Commission, the Lord has blessed the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) with a significant role in extending His Kingdom in North America. Mission to North America (MNA) is called by the General Assembly to lead the PCA in that advancement of the Gospel in the United States and Canada, through:
- assisting presbyteries and churches in planting new churches
- endorsing chaplain ministries
- providing outreach resources for existing churches-see the MNA homepage for the list.
Beginning in 1995, at least 40 church planters have been sent out annually across the denomination. Whereas at one time MNA was directly responsible for most of the church plants, MNA’s role now is a decentralized and resource-providing role, assisting presbyteries and local churches in their church planting endeavors.
The greatest challenge: developing and finding the men who, with their families, have sufficient spiritual gifts, experience and conviction of God’s call to plant a church. The vision of the Church Planting Apprenticeship Program is to address this need by placing qualified men in strategic churches within presbyteries to be mentored and trained for starting daughter churches. Further, this proposal enhances the shift to presbytery and local church involvement in church planting, through:
- providing supplemental project funds that assist a presbytery or church in completing funding for a project but still require substantial local financial initiative.
- requiring and providing opportunity for the presbytery or church to take the lead role in training and mentoring the church planter.
RATIONALE AND BENEFITS
The program presented here is a proven program. Informally, the process of mentoring a pastor and sending him out to plant a church is as ancient as the days of Paul and Timothy. Its practice has continued throughout the history of the church, including the churches of North America.
During the past two years, however, a number of PCA churches have begun to undertake this approach in a more intentional and structured manner. In particular, the Midwest Region has taken the lead in this training ministry in the PCA.
The results for the PCA have been outstanding. Please take a moment to read Timothy Fund testimonies from our church planters and their mentors. Further, this is an effective way to establish PCA churches among certain ethnic groups, particularly those in which graduate or seminary education is not common. This program offers the 4 following advantages:
PREPARATION FOR CHURCH PLANTING
(1) Many men feel called and appear gifted for church planting yet lack experience, especially when graduating from seminary. The Church Planting Apprenticeship Program provides the necessary preparation that these candidates need.
OPPORTUNITY FOR PARTICULAR CHURCHES
(2) Many particular churches would like to plant a daughter church but lack both the know-how and the resources for doing so. The Church Planting Apprenticeship Program allows more churches to participate and enjoy the invigorating benefits of planting daughter churches.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FOR PRESBYTERIES
(3) Many presbyteries have the resources to start one to two churches only every one to two years. The Timothy Fund adds to the funds provided by the presbytery and local church; with funds raised by the itineration of the church planter himself, the impact of the contribution of each is multiplied by combination with others. There is so much more we can do together than apart.
STRATEGIC PLACEMENT OF CHURCH PLANTERS
(4) Frequently, presbyteries are contacted by various individuals and small groups who are interested in starting a PCA church in their community. These often represent significant opportunities for planting new churches. Apprenticeships provide training for many more men to respond to this call.
REQUEST FOR FUNDING
Mission to North America is seeking additional partners for the Timothy Fund. $1,197,200 has been contributed; however, all of these funds have already been granted to apprentices. Since the apprentice is supported by several different sources, a gift of $15,000 opens the way for a church planting apprentice to begin his ministry. Each partner in the Timothy Fund has the opportunity to review and approve the apprenticeship candidate to be supported by the gift.
Church planting apprentices are paid a total annual salary and benefits package in the range of $36,000 to $48,000. The additional funding for the church planting apprentice comes from any or all of the following sources, depending on the situation:
(1) The church sponsoring the church plant
(2) The MNA Presbytery
(3) The apprentice’s itineration
Grants from the Timothy Fund are awarded only to apprentices qualified by MNA’s Assessment Center. All other funding sources and training resources must be in place and a definite target community must be identified in which the apprentice will later plant the church.
The Timothy Fund is a revolving fund. As the church planting apprentice begins the actual church plant, this new church will begin to make its own contributions to church planting. Each recipient of the Timothy Fund commits himself to lead his church in giving to future apprenticeship funding at least as much as was invested in his own apprenticeship.
Mission to North America utilizes the PCA Foundation to manage donations in an “MNA Advise and Consult Fund.” The MNA A&C Fund offers the donor the advantage of being able to give a gift now but then assign portions of that gift to particular projects at a later time. Monies are transferred from the fund to MNA projects only at the request of the donor.
For Further Information, contact:
1700 N. Brown Road, Suite 101
Lawrenceville, Georgia 30043-8122
Fax: (678) 825-1201