By Keith Boyette
“We have five Methodist churches in this county and most of them are struggling. Why do we need another church?” asked Joe at a special meeting of key leaders of five area churches. The meeting had been called to determine how the congregations would respond to rapid population growth in the region. The established local churches were declining in spite of the growth. Felicia responded, “We don’t seem to be willing to change what we are doing to meet the needs of all these new people. Maybe it’s time for us to birth something new to reach more people for the kingdom!”
So began the conversation that planted the seed of my being sent to start a new local church in Spotsylvania County, Virginia in July of 1998. Some months later, Wilderness Community Church held its first worship service in an elementary school, drawing 330 persons, close to the combined attendance of the existing five churches in the county. Launching the new church did not detract from attendance at the existing churches. Instead, persons who were not attending any church were drawn to the new one. We witnessed multiplication occur because existing local churches saw the potential of reaching more people through the launch of a new church.
The Global Methodist Church is committed to multiplication. Disciples will make disciples who make disciples. Leaders will raise up leaders who will raise up leaders. Churches will plant churches who will plant new churches. Multiplication was at the very heart of the Methodist movement as John Wesley and his followers shared the good news of Jesus Christ with all kinds of people, and planted meeting houses and the local churches throughout England and America. Today, multiplication will occur through the planting of new churches and through the revitalization of existing ones.
The Global Methodist Church has already announced a special partnership with Asbury Theological Seminary to create a $1,000,000 fund to make grants for church planting. And as individuals give to the new denomination, they have the option of designating gifts specifically for church planting.
Today, we are pleased to announce a strategic multiplication alliance with The River Network. The River Network is led by a team composed of church multiplication specialists from various tribes in the Wesleyan theological family. They have years of experience in assessing, training, mentoring, coaching, and deploying church planting teams globally.
Working with The River Network, the Global Methodist Church will respond to the immediate opportunity to plant new churches in communities where there is no theologically conservative Methodist presence as well as respond to circumstances where there are groups of Christ-followers who are leaving existing churches because of theological division and conflict. The GM Church will also respond to what is happening on the ground globally to gather teams of believers who are eager to be about the new work to which Jesus is calling us.
The River Network is led by the Rev. Steve Cordle, founding pastor of Crossroads Church in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. Steve led the Church Multiplication Ministry Team which developed a Church Multiplication Strategic Plan for the Wesleyan Covenant Association. The Transitional Leadership Council of the Global Methodist Church has enthusiastically adopted and endorsed the strategic plan. This alliance with The River Network is an important step to ensure church multiplication is a priority for the denomination.
“The River Network is excited to partner with the Global Methodist Church in multiplying Kingdom communities around the world,” said Rev. Cordle. “Every believer and every church can play a role in multiplying new congregations, and find themselves becoming more vital in the process.”
The Global Methodist Church’s multiplication initiative is fueled by fervent prayer. An intercessory prayer network is currently being assembled to undergird all of the ministries in the denomination. A major component of this network will be a team that intentionally focuses on church multiplication asking God to open doors, raise up leaders and teams, and provide, equip, and empower the work of local churches dedicated to planting new ones.
The strategic initiative with The River Network will focus on the following:
- Cultivating a mindset and culture of multiplying disciples, leaders, and churches.
- Training, equipping, and assessing laity and clergy who are called to be church planters.
- Mentoring and coaching church planting teams as they are deployed.
- Serving as a “midwife” for the birth of new churches, including creating an environment that inspire new planters. With encouragement and training the Global Methodist Church is convinced there are people ready to step away from local churches where they no longer feel welcome in order to plant new churches in their communities.
I am excited that the Global Methodist Church, in its first year, has a vision for planting new churches in communities all around the world. The first commandment God gave to humanity was to be fruitful and multiply. While this involved the physical reproduction of humans in families, it also involved the call to expand God’s kingdom – spiritual reproduction. Jesus expanded upon this calling when He gave us the Great Commission – “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Partnering with The River Network couples our passion to fulfill God’s calling with experienced, spirit-filled leadership to achieve our vision. If you are interested in connecting with this aspect of the ministry of the Global Methodist Church – whether because you have a calling to be involved in planting a church or because you and others see the need for a new church in your community, I invite you to email The River Network at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rev. Keith Boyette is the Transitional Connectional Officer for the Global Methodist Church, its chief executive and administrative officer.