The other day I wrote about what magazines I had read lately. I mentioned that I wanted to come back and talk about Outreach Magazine. This issue was their 100 Largest and Fastest-Growing Churches in America edition.
There is a great interview in the magazine with pastors Rick Bezet and Chris Hodges – pastors of the fastest growing church in America (’09 & ’08). It’s a great interview and knowing how humble and sincere both pastors are, I thought it gave glory where glory is due – to God.
An interesting thing though that many may not realize is that not only are Rick and Chris (and their churches) ARC churches, they both serve on the board of ARC (Association of Related Churches). Not only that, Rick and Chris’ churches were the first 2 churches that ARC planted 8 years ago when ARC was birthed.
So ARC launched 8 years ago with Church of the Highlands (Chris Hodges) and New Life Church (Rick Bezet) and then fast-forward: Church of the Highlands is the fastest growing church in the US in 2008 and New Life Church is the fastest growing church in 2009.
I point this out because I believe in ARC and think they do a good job planting churches. It’s worth noting that this year’s and last year’s fastest growing churches are both ARC churches. I wrote THIS blog post a while back and mentioned all the great churches that you may not realize are ARC churches. If you didn’t read it, it’s worth checking out. You’d be amazed at how many great churches and pastors you’ve heard of are ARC churches.
Why do I do a blog post on “ARC and Church Growth”? Because as an ARC coach of church planters, I can personally tell you how much I talk about the importance of prayer in leading and growing/strengthening your church. I’ve met with church planters and pastors and begged them to make prayer a priority. I’ve begged them to gather on Saturday to pray for Sunday (like Chris Hodges has always done). I’ve begged pastors to begin an intercessory prayer ministry that prays throughout their morning worship services.
Fortunately, I’ve had the privilege of hearing both Rick and Chris teach on the importance and power of prayer. The very first thing ARC teaches at their CPR’s (Church Planters Roundtable) is that you must “win the war in the spiritual”. As Billy Hornsby says, “Prayer is a non-negotiable”. I heard Chris Hodges once say, “You can’t delegate prayer.”
I write this blog post because every “fastest-growing” list that comes out has a story behind the names on the list. There are some amazing churches listed on this year’s list. I know most of the churches. My word to you is that knowing these leaders, I know they wouldn’t point to a cool technology or church growth fad, but to the power and presence of our Almighty God.
God is using ARC in a mighty way and I’m thrilled to be a small part of it and not only contribute and consult, but I grow and learn all the time by hanging out and talking with the ARC team. Billy Hornsby is a new mentor in my life and I appreciate the investment he’s making in my life.
My encouragement to you is for YOU to get to know the ARC as well. If you’re a future church planter, look into planting through ARC. Contact me and I’ll get you started down the path. If you’re an already existing church, you can join ARC (like Craig Groeschel and LifeChurch.tv and Mark Batterson and National Community Church) and begin to see your missions budget go straight to planting churches here in the United States. I’d be glad to talk with you about how your church can join the ARC and begin actively supporting church planting.
All Glory to God!