Thursday, December 10, 2015

Learning from evangelical campus ministry

By J. West

Everyone knows the importance of reaching the next generation of Christian believers. Often the focus is on educating and engaging children at home. But the Church also needs to engage students in college, when even the most devout young believers face threats and temptations (particularly if they were not fully formed at home).

On Saturday, the Diocese of Western Anglicans (ACNA) hosted a half-day workshop on campus ministry. An audience of 22 —  including Bishop Keith Andrews and clergy or laity from all four deaneries — heard a presentation by Rev. William Beasley, founder of the Greenhouse Movement near Northwestern University — along with two other rectors active in the Greenhouse Movement.

Greenhouse started in AMiA and is now part of ACNA, but it is not an ecclesial jurisdiction of its own. (I know the story of Greenhouse from an Anglican 1000 podcast by Beasley and Mike Neibauer, his first lay church planter).

Beasley and Greenhouse would be considered controversial (if not radical) in some quarters. Derived from his observation of African congregations where ordained clergy are in short supply, the Greenhouse model is to quickly plant lay-led congregations under the supervision of a regional priest. These lay leaders are more readily available and (others have noted) are younger and more rapidly deployed.

The model relaxes the need to have a big enough congregation to support a full-time priest (and a building). As Beasley (a cradle Episcopalian from Virginia) put it: “Where I grew up, you had to have $1 million to start a new congregation [to cover property and salaries]. We didn’t start any parishes because we didn’t have $1 million.  That was strong paradigm that affected how everybody thought about our mission.” While not all of us agreed with his solution, I believe everyone shared his diagnosis: no matter how the Church wants to improve the odds of church planting success, it can’t wait until the perfect time.

Still, many of the issues discussed at the workshop regarding campus ministry would be faced by Anglo-Catholic (or any other) campus ministers. These structural issues include:
  • The linkage of the sponsoring parish to campus ministry, whether as a mother-daughter or the Greenhouse-style network.
  • Working cooperatively with parachurch organizations (e.g. InterVarsity) and other Christian clubs and denominations. The two groups can publicize each other, and the parachurch may have programs to train or develop student leaders (e.g. to lead small groups).
  • Overcoming potential hurdles or hostility from secular universities, including (at an appropriate time) jumping through hoops to be officially recognized on campus.
Like other church plants, a campus ministry faces a tension between hoping to grow rapidly and beginning regular worship prematurely. At the same time, Bp. Andrews noted that a congregation is more than just worship: it needs to be equipped to make disciples out of its members and evangelize new members.

The workshop discussed other topics related to working with potential members:
  • Selecting ministry leaders. Beasley recommends finding someone already on campus rather than sending an outsider to campus; he has had particularly success calling recent alumni who have strong ties back to a specific campus.
  • Differing approaches for evangelizing and discipling depending on whether the (prospective) member is Anglican, other Christian and non-Christian.
  • The particular opportunities and challenges of international students, particularly those from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
Beasley summarized the process they used to learn the Northwestern campus by using an unfamiliar term: “prayer walk.” Later Fr. David Montzingo (who is preparing laity to form numerous spinouts from his current parish) explained how he once used the same approach at nearby San Diego State to discern (and pray for) potential sites on campus.

It is not clear which parts of the overall Greenhouse strategy would work in the context of an Anglo-Catholic church ministry. From my own experience, a young church planter is unlikely to understand how today’s Anglican congregation relates to both to the historic undivided Church and the differences between Anglicanism and those traditions (notably Roman Catholic and Eastern) that also emphasize such continuity.

Some aspects seem a non-starter, particularly those that reduce the sacramental nature of the parish experience. It assumes that laity will be allowed to distribute reserved sacrament (controversial) or that the congregation will accept only occasional Holy Communion service (which has disadvantages and advantages).

To me, the riskiest element of this plan is that it reduces (if not eliminates) the ability of trained clergy to disciple and mentor both individual parishioners and congregation leaders. Rural parishes in the UK and US sometimes share a priest, as do some Catholic parishes in Europe. However, it seems as though both Schism I and II parishes have been successful this century in identifying and training (bi)vocational deacons who have the training and discipline necessary to lead a parish in the absence of a full-time rector.

At the same time, Anglo-Catholics (who have not planted a lot of campus ministries recently) can learn from the issues, opportunities and challenges faced by the evangelical and charismatic streams of Anglicanism. In that regard, there is an opportunity to learn by studying such approaches (just as one can gain insight from reading Joel Osteen), as long as the leader has the maturity and judgment to recognize which ideas are appropriate and which ones are not. In particular, if a campus ministry does not have its own ordained clergy, then the making key decisions about which ideas to follow and which to ignore would seem to be the crucial responsibility of the sponsoring parish and its pastor.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Announcing task force members

After being appointed in July by Fr. Lawrence Bausch (president of Forward in Faith North America) to lead FIFNA’s church planting efforts, Fr. Chris Culpepper has named the founding members of the FIFNA church planting task force:
These nine represent four jurisdictions — ACNA, ACC, APA and REC — as well as the AAC parachurch organization. All have an interest in developing and supporting Anglo-Catholic church planters.

The task force will also be working with the ACNA’s church planting efforts — in particular, with Canon Dan Alger who now canon for church planting for the ACNA, Anglican Diocese of the South — as well as a church planter and rector of Anglican Church of the Redeemer (Dacula, Georgia).

For more information about the task force, contact Fr. Culpepper.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Why Plant Churches in University Towns?

By Father Lee Nelson, SSC

I am completely convinced that if Saint Paul paid the United States a visit today, he would head straight for a university campus and plant a church among college students. Why?

American Universities: a Unique Opportunity

American universities are astounding places. Millions of students flock to them from around the world to participate in the most effective platform for learning and the exchange of ideas the world has ever seen. They are filled with hand-selected future leaders in our culture. They have large populations of students on student visas, who will return to their home countries to lead and innovate. 

Students have come to the university with learning in mind. They know that they will be taught, and formed, and leave with a significant set of tools at their disposal. They will have higher incomes, and nestle into the fabric of American life as teachers, engineers, physical therapists, nurses, doctors, and architects.

They are also searching for truth and meaning. Much as English universities sparked an Anglo-Catholic revival in the 19th century, it is time for us to bring these eternal truths to American university students in the 21st century.

The majority of these students grew up in American churches, but they didn’t become Christians. In fact, they have no idea what the Gospel really is. They believe in the distant, yet therapeutic god in the sky, who leaves them alone but will punish the truly evil. It was this god in whom they were taught to believe by their youth groups and pastors and they have become disillusioned with him.

What will it take to evangelize these students? New parishes, planted to make disicples and catechize this generation in the enduring truth and tradition of the Catholic Faith, parishes which play an active role in the intellectual and social life of the university and its students. It will take well-educated clergy, who can proclaim the Faith on the campus, modeling the Incarnation and the sacrificial outpouring of the self which we see on the Cross. And late nights on the phone, and a stomach for greasy pizza, and deep maturity, and the ability to like Paul, show forth Christ in the midst of an unbelieving, but inquiring world.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

ACNA's Emergent Planting Process

By J. West

Anglican 1000: Then and Now

When he was installed as ACNA's first primate in June 2009, Abp. Bob Duncan kicked off what was labelled “Anglican 1000” to plant 1000 new Anglican churches in North America. He appointed David Roseberry as provincial canon for church planting, who was succeeded in 2012 by Alan Hawkins. When he was installed as ACNA’s second primate in 2014, Abp. Foley Beach appointed Dan Alger as the ACNA church planting canon while retaining Hawkins as a canon for development, i.e. provincial fundraising. (Alger is leading church plants in Foley’s Anglican Diocese of the South while Hawkins is in PEAR USA that is joining ACNA).

Anglican 1000 hosted a series of conferences from 2010 onward. In fact, the podcast section of the website has audio from dating back to 2010, and more recent content from conferences in March 2013 and May 2014.

While the Anglican 1000 blog and podcasts have not been recently updated, Canon Alger is still leading ACNA church planting efforts. Both Canon Alger and Hawkins have been on the road for church planting training for several years, including a September 21, 2013 joint presentation to the Anglican Diocese of New England in Amesbury, Mass. (captured in an 82-minute YouTube video).

Their most recent visit was to the Diocese of Western Anglicans Sept 25-28, delivering two church planting workshops in Southern California and then Arizona. About 30 of us attended the first two-day session at Bethel Seminary in San Diego, which emphasized what dioceses, deaneries and sponsoring parishes can do to support church plants and church planters.

Anglican Church Planting Resources

There are many resources for church planting on Amazon, websites, paid consultants and elsewhere. Most of these resources are for launching evangelical non-denominational churches — hence the interest of FiFNA in providing materials for Anglo-Catholic church planters.

The ACNA has also noticed this gap. Attendees at the DWA workshops received a 44-page training manual, entitled Building a Church Planting Diocese.

The last six pages were a 3,000-word excerpt of Alger’s January op-ed from the ACNA website, entitled “Sacramental Church Planting.” After an ACNA process that has often seemed very AMiA (if not non-denom) influenced, he wrote:
As an Anglican church planter, and because the sacraments and church planting are two of my greatest passions in life, I am excited both about the liturgical church regaining its missional side and many mission-filled churches coming home to their roots. My giddiness is tempered, however, by the great variance in the quality of this meeting of mission and sacrament; it is sometimes a beautiful, life-giving symbiosis and sometimes, as previously described, a gory, carnage-filled train wreck.
In my opinion, this recognition (by ACNA’s church-planting spokesman) that some Anglican church planting is not all that Anglican is already a relief if not encouragement for Anglo-Catholic minded members of the ACNA.

A Seven-step Process Model

To anchor their workshop on supporting church planters, the canons presented a model of a support process. It has seven steps:
  1. Strategic Oversight: the deanery/diocesan oversight of planters needs to balance too much vs. not enough structure, to encourage initiative while restraining chaos.
  2. Leadership Pipeline: training church leaders builds on a foundation created earlier in life, so we must begin our pipeline training in nursery, Sunday School and youth group. Catechesis is needed for any potential leader.
  3. Assessment: not every one is suited to church planting, so we can dramatically improve the odds of success by using proven (decades-old) research to assess potential planters before they go into the field.
  4. Training: training of a week or more (for both clergy and lay planters) dramatically improves the odds of success. Clergy need to understand Anglican distinctives while at the same time evangelizing and making church accessible.
  5. Coaching: church planters need a range of spiritual advisors — including mentors and a paid coach — to help them deal with unexpected challenges and be accountable for following through; there is a shortage of experienced coaches.
  6. Funding: building a new community is harder, longer and more expensive than you think. Church planters should be developing financial support a year in advance. There are major challenges in years 3-7 as the initial excitement fades. How much support for how long will diocese, deanery or sponsoring church provide?
  7. Ongoing Support: church planters need ongoing support, including relational support, mentoring, advice from church planting peers, continuing educational, and support structures for their spouses.
Below is my diagram attempting to illustrate this process.

The remainder of the workshop was organized as a series of 7 lectures followed by breakout group discussions of assigned questions for each step.

Assessment

The needs of assessment differ whether the planter who is one who is familiar with the local context, part of a team of planters, or a “parachute planter” who builds a network from scratch. Still, there are common requirements for assessment:
  • Assessment instrument: a personality test evaluate the strengths and weaknesses as potential planter; only about 30% are ready to “solo” as a church planter.
  • Holistic assessment: In addition to the paper test, the local evaluation includes observing existing behavior and interviews.
  • Relational: assess existing relationships, including the (essential) spousal support
The canons showed a draft of the (50+ page) ACNA Church Planter Assessment Manual, which is scheduled to be released in early 2016.

Guiding and Mentoring the Planter

Canon Hawkins presented his own typology of 7 types of advisors for spiritual formation:
  1. Counselor: probing emotional and behavioral patterns
  2. Mentor: imparting wisdom
  3. Confessor: tells us the truth
  4. Pastor: disciples us, practices “soul care”
  5. Spiritual director: helps us recognize the grace of God in our midst.
  6. Spiritual companions: friendships with peers who spur us on.
  7. Coach: holds us accountable to our plans and promises, specifically for church planters; often combined with a mentor.
In our breakout group, each of us were asked to identify which roles we had covered and which ones were vacant — illustrating the gaps in our own support and guidance.

Going Forward

Over the next few months, “Always Forward” (née Anglican 1000) will be releasing its new website and its assessment manual. While there is a goal of developing a full church planting manual, it seems like that is several years off (2018? 2019?).

Meanwhile, the training suggested three key questions for our deanery church planting committee:
  1. Until the ACNA materials are available, what resources do we use? Popular (nondenom) church planting books — and if so, which ones? Or do we (temporarily) develop our own custom materials? 
  2. For coaching and training church planters, do we use experts like Titus Institute, CMM and Lifeway, which have proven expertise (but are expensive). Or do we develop our own capabilities — if so, how?
  3. The deanery has limited funds to support new church plants. Should we spend it on improving the odds (assessment, training, coaching), or on directly supporting the planter/mission? Or is planting attractive enough to attract new or expanded donors?
The latest ACNA efforts bring us closer to understanding the process, but planting a new church still requires a lot of patience, persistence — and prayer.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A call of action for the Great Commission

31 July 2015

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I greet you in the strong name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and in the afterglow of the International Catholic Congress of Anglicans, recently held in Fort Worth, TX, where I was asked by Fr. Lawrence Bausch and Bishop Keith Ackerman to serve as an advisor to FiFNA. Specifically, I have been given the charge of organizing a task force for church planting, which will organize and provide planting resources - including coaching - to bishops, parishes, and clusters, or groups, of people who want to explore church planting in the catholic tradition and witness to the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.

To further introduce myself by way of credentials, for the past seven years, I have been planting Christ the Redeemer Anglican Church in Fort Worth, under Bishop Jack Iker. In this time, our parish has grown to an ASA of 125 and an annual budget of $500,000. During this same time, I also worked in Waco, TX for the first four years of Christ Church, Waco’s existence, where I organized, pastored, provided resources for, and helped grow the congregation to the point where it has been able to call Fr. Lee Nelson as its planting vicar.

Planting churches has been a long-standing calling for me. I can think of nothing more exciting in ministry than serving the Great Commandment and Great Commission by establishing worshipping communities where they do not presently exist. It is with this specific call and charge by our Lord, within the context of my priestly ministry, that I hope to serve FiFNA and all who are discerning a similar call, whether in the ranks of clergy or laity.

Therefore, it is my intent to pursue the following call of action for the task force:
  1. For the remainder of 2015, I intend to prayerfully organize the task force, drawing together teaching materials and people who are resourced to help the task force live into its charge, as well as developing a web page, which will offer blogs, provide resources, and give contact information for task force and planting purposes.
  2. Starting in 2016, it is my hope that the task force will be ready to be dispatched into areas where we are called by bishops, parishes, and clusters, to provide the teaching necessary for planting.
In closing, may I suggest two opportunities: (a) discerning a call to serve on the task force; and/or (b) discerning a call to plant a church. If you are interested in either of these opportunities, please contact me at frculpepper@ctrfw.org.

Yours in Christ,

The Rev. Chris Culpepper
Advisor to FiFNA, Church Planting


P.O. Box 210248 • Bedford, TX 76095-7248 • Telephone 800-255-3661
Email: office@fifna.org • Website: www.fifna.org
“Upholding the Faith and Order of the Undivided Church”

Friday, July 24, 2015

About this ministry

The Church Planting Task Force is sponsored by Forward in Faith North America, and directed by Father Chris Culpepper. At the end of the 2015 International Catholic Congress of Anglicans,  Fr. Culpepper was appointed as the advisor to FiFNA for church planting.

Mission

Growing the Body of Christ means both growing the number of churches and the number of active disciples in each church. Because worship is local and congregational, growing the faith means planting new churches to reach existing and potential Christians where they live. The Great Commission calls Christians to go and baptize new disciples in the name of our Triune God.

While there are numerous (often valuable) church planting experts, books and other resources available, much of the advice has a decidedly Evangelical orientation. The mission of the task force is to help plant Anglo-Catholic churches that are faithful to the principles of FiFNA.

Goals

We have identified four goals:
  1. Capture and disseminate best practice. We need to learn how successful church planters have combined proven knowledge of Christian church planting and Anglo-Catholic churchmanship. 
  2. Coaching and mentoring church planters. We need an infrastructure to deliver advice to prospective and existing church planters across the entire life cycle of a new parish (e.g. scouting, building a team, launching, growing, structuring and regularizing).
  3. An institutional commitment to support church planting. Historically Anglo-Catholic clergy and laity have lacked a missionary orientation, and thus both our leadership and institutional structures must be transformed to emphasize creating new churches and new disciples.
  4. Develop the theology of Anglo-Catholic church planting. Many church planting resources have an Evangelical orientation, and we need theological and pastoral guidance suitable for planting and growing healthy Anglo-Catholic parishes.
We will be providing additional information on each of these goals.

Members

The initial members of the task force were appointed in November 2015.

Contact

For more information about the task force, contact

Fr. Chris Culpepper
Rector, Church of the Redeemer
E-mail: frculpepper@ctrfw.org
817-386-3000

For questions or corrections about the website, contact the webmaster.