Bless the Lord! It’s been almost a year since Fr. Wes called me into his office and asked if I would be willing to lead a team of parishioners with the goal of creating a “culture of church planting” at All Saints. I never could have imagined where we would be as a church moving into the summer of 2019.
First, on behalf of the Church Planting Catalyst Team, I would like to thank everyone who has been praying for us and our efforts. Your prayers are bearing fruit. Since that fateful meeting last summer, we have accomplished a great deal. We formed our team and began a concerted prayer and research effort to discern the Holy Spirit’s intent for us. Soon, we formed a Fall Pastorate and added parishioners to the group. Out of that Pastorate, we determined that All Saints not only had the core DNA necessary for planting, but that there was a strong, yet untapped desire to emulate the Great Commission, to follow the example of the disciples, and plant churches.
We also developed an All Saints strategy for pursuing church planting and presented it to the members of the church at a Parish Forum back in January. Our strategy is two-pronged. First, we need to go slow to go fast. We want to work methodically and purposefully with an eye toward long-term success. Second, our plan is to form small home-based Christian Fellowship Groups designed to attract the unchurched (for our purposes, unchurched describes anyone from
the unbeliever to those dissatisfied with their current relationship with a church). Long term, we see All Saints becoming the hub of church planting in the region through what we now call our Mission Abbey.
As the new calendar year began, All Saints created a Vestry position dedicated to overseeing all things related to Church Planting and soon thereafter pledged funding to the effort. At the same time, Kevin and Liz Vailes volunteered to host our first Christian Fellowship Group. God willing, our plan is for them to start meeting in a small group in the August to September timeframe.
Now the Catalyst Team is focusing on the nuts-and-bolts work of overseeing our church planting efforts. We are in the process of mirroring the Church Building planning effort by developing a communications strategy, expectations, metrics, a plan to properly steward the funds the Vestry allocated, and identify lessons learned as we move forward.
Speaking of moving forward, we intend to maximize our participation at the annual Always Forward church planting conference on September 24–26 in Asheville, NC (see page 4 for more details) and hope some of our fellow All Saints parishioners will join us.
We are very encouraged by the Parish’s comments from our recent Season of Discernment. Clearly, All Saints is infused with a passionate spirit of discipleship and church planting. A wonderful fact about our church planting effort is that every single parishioner has a role. First, we ask everyone to keep praying for the All Saints planting initiative and for those working on it. I cannot emphasize enough how much your prayers help.
Second, consider attending the Always Forward conference or taking an active role on our team. We could really use additional assistance with all the work we must accomplish (if you were waiting for someone to invite you, you were just invited). You don’t have to be a certain age, or be a long-term member, or know anything about church planting to be helpful (trust me on that).
Most importantly, we are trying to identify those who feel they may be called to sponsor a Christian Fellowship Group. Expressing interest does not commit you to hosting a group, so please feel free to consult with one of us or a member of our clergy.
In closing, I wish to thank all those who have advised and assisted as we embarked on our journey—our wonderful clergy: Fr. Wes, Fr. Brian, and Fr. Ross; some of our founders: Walter Townsend, Jane and Jeff Garrety; and the members of the Catalyst Team and Pastorate: Barbara and John Reed, Scott Huelin, Liz and Kevin Vailes, Carrie Whaley, Ali and David Knack, Melinda Pearson, Jim Warmbrod, and my ever-patient wife, Celeste.