September 12, 2021

Anglican Church Planting During Covidtide

The past 18 months have been difficult for American churches. The difficulties have been come from actual health threats due to Covid-19, but also due to associated government restrictions on society, the economy and particularly churches.

At the same time, as with other entrepreneurial endeavors, a time of disruption and uncertainty provides opportunities for new entrants. Here I highlight the success of Anglican church plants that remember that their mission is to be the church.

In the North American Anglican, I reported on four (traditional liturgy) Anglican churches planted in four states during Covidtide. Two were de novo church plants, one was a mother-daughter spinoff, and one was a replant (with a new jurisdiction, priest and worship space). Due to the format limitations of TNAA, the 7,000 word article (entitled “Church Planting in Covidtide: Moral Courage and Sacramental Witness”) was split into two parts. A reader suggested that it would be helpful to have a brief roadmap to these two postings.

The four churches highlighted were
  • Christ the King (Marietta, Georgia) a parachute plant sponsored by the REC 100 ministry of the Reformed Episcopal Church.
  • St. Mark the Evangelist (Waxahachie, Texas) a REC replant after the priest of an earlier Anglican church retired during Covidtide.
  • St. Thomas Anglican (Fullerton, California) in the Anglican Catholic Church (one of the major Continuing Anglican jurisdictions): a spinoff of a healthy ACC parish 30 minutes away.
  • Trinity Anglican (Connersville, Indiana) also planted in the ACC, reopening an historic sanctuary abandoned by the Episcopal Church after more than 150 years.
Part I introduces the challenges of Anglican church planting, discusses the REC and its REC 100 initiative, and then presents the case studies of Christ the King and St. Mark’s. Part II discusses the evangelism efforts of the Continuing church (including Continuing Forward) and the stories of St. Thomas and Trinity Anglican.

The latter article then concludes by summarizing what can be learned from these four case studies:
  1. The importance of the relational model of evangelism, sometimes called the “Celtic” model.
  2. The need to create a spiritually healthy church, and that healthy churches can only come from other healthy churches.
  3. Learning (where possible) from previous church planting research, including the central role of an authentic and capable church planter and avoiding obvious mistakes.
  4. The perhaps obvious (but still overlooked) idea that sacramental churches must be sacramental (i.e. that much more is lost with a purely virtual format).

A key question — perhaps the key question — for 21st century church planting is how to create relationships with new members. The article hints at some of the answers: it appears there is no substitute for a tireless presence in the community for the explicit purpose of creating new conversations and new relationships. Interestingly, three of these four parishes create a presence using “Theology on Tap,” invented 40 years ago to support a Catholic young adult ministry.

Of course, there have been other traditional Anglican church plants. The Forward in Faith church planting task force (which met from 2015-2019) was led by the founding vicar of Christ the Redeemer Ft. Worth and included the founding vicar of Christ Church Waco; both are traditional theology churches in the Diocese of Ft. Worth that (unlike the above four parishes) use the modern (2019 ACNA) liturgy. While Always Forward supports the broad range of churches in the ACNA, the focus of this blog remains examining Anglo-Catholic church planting.

Picture: header from The North American Anglican articles.

June 14, 2021

Updated Focus on Church Planting

This website exists to support Anglo-Catholic church planting in North America. It was launched in 2015 by the church planting task force sponsored by Forward in Faith North America. As with the FIF mission, it was intended to support Anglo-Catholic churches both in the ACNA and Continuing Anglican jurisdictions, and to provide an Anglo-Catholic perspective to supplement the Always Forward initiative of the ACNA.

While the FIFNA task force disbanded in 2019, our goal remains unchanged: to support church planting and church planters of traditional Anglican parishes. This website will continue to provide pointers and resources about the separate Anglo-Catholic church planting initiatives, including

We welcome any questions, suggestions, corrections or other ideas. Please feel free to email the webmaster. 

July 6, 2019

FiFNA videos about Anglo-Catholic church planting

The Forward in Faith (North America) task force has not had a face to face meeting recently. However, we do have some resources to share with Anglo-Catholic church planters, wherever they might be.

As part of its continuing education program, FiFNA recorded three videos about Anglican church planting with two members of the FiFNA council. Fr. Chris Culpepper is the founding president of this task force, while Bp. Keith Ackerman is the retired diocesan bishop of Quincy. Both are rectors of ACNA parishes in the Diocese of Ft. Worth.

This is not the first time that Fr. Culpepper has recorded a video about Anglican church planting: he previously spoke about his church planting experience at the 2016 FiFNA annual assembly.

“Anglo Catholic Church Planting”: Fr. Culpepper and Bp. Ackerman

In this 32 minute video, Bp. Ackerman asks Fr. Culpepper about the challenges and opportunities of planting a new Anglican church in the catholic tradition of the undivided church.

Fr. Culpepper recounts his own church planting experience in the Diocese, first in Ft. Worth and later helping to start two missions in college towns south of Dallas. As the church prepared to offer regular Sunday morning service, the first question was how do you prepare to offer a healthy church for prospective members to attend? 

He next discusses how to create a vibrant parish. One aspect is how a new parish — meeting in shopping center with limited resources — ramps up to offer worship in a form that is recognizably Anglo-Catholic. Another is how to attract and organize the resources needed by the new parish in a way that is understood by parishioners with business experience.

He also discusses how Anglican church planters can learn from church planters in other traditions, including advice from experience church planting coaches and written memoirs. Finally, he discusses the traits, attitudes and behaviors that help improve the odds of success for a church planting team.

“Fr. Culpepper continues the discussion on church planting”

The previous video is continued with a 42-minute video by Fr. Culpepper discussing the challenges and pitfalls that Anglo-Catholic church planters face — both inside their parish, and in their relationship to the mission field. As in the first video, he argues that church planters must put the Great Commandment (love thy neighbor) ahead of the Great Commission (making disciples of all nations).

“The Missional Church”: Bp. Ackerman

This 37 minute video concludes the FIF video series. In it, Bp. Ackerman asks how a new Anglo-Catholic church can offer both the timeless historic faith, and at the same time a distinct mission and ministry to its local community.

October 4, 2018

Anglican Distinctives of Church Planting

Dan Alger, ACNA Church Planting Canon
This week Anglican Forward posted podcasts from the first round of sessions from their annual conference, both to the Always Forward 2018 website and their podcast.

As noted before, Always Forward is dedicated to planting ACNA churches; as with the rest of ACNA, the emphasis has been on Evangelical rather than Anglo-Catholic churches. As such, Anglo-Catholics reading their past advice have often needed to make as much adaptation or modification as they would for Methodist, Baptist or even non-denominational church planting advice.

However, of the first four sessions posted, the recommendations in the opening session by Canon Dan Alger were ones applicable to any Anglican church planter without modification. Because it’s such a clear statement, I thought I'd summarize [with my own observations] here in this blog; however, I recommend the audio to any Anglican church planter.

The point of his talk was that Anglican church planters sometime forget the Anglican part of their church planting goals. [Although he didn’t mention it, this ties directly to what we in California are calling “Anglican distinctives” — aspect of the Anglican expression of Christianity that make an Anglican church different from other churches.]

Alger listed 7 distinctives:
  1. Ecclesiology drives Missiology. Churches are not created as a tool for mission. Our ecclesiology is anchored to tradition: those before us should have a say, as with the “Great cloud of witnesses” [Hebrews 12:1].† We are defined include Episcopal oversight, two sacraments [not counting five minor sacraments], the 39 Articles.
  2. Understanding the prayer book definition of what we believe. A fixed liturgy is both constraining and empowering.
  3. Submission [obedience] to authority. While church planters have an element of “rebels, pirates and prophets,” this is sometimes accompanied by the sins of pride and ambition. Some entrepreneurial church planters like the lack of accountability of leading a new independent church, but of course every [priest] has a bishop.
  4. Pursue personal and corporate holiness. Most church planting conferences talk about strategy, methods, mechanics, budgeting. [Instead, the planter must make holiness — both his own and that of his flock — the top priority.] “We don’t need more large unholy churches”; the emphasis on growth often leads to covering up sin to achieve growth 
  5. Worship centric. Worship is something we do with others, not a tool to get people in the door.
  6. Word and sacrament. Preach the faith to the lost, have standards for those who are to be baptized and share communion with us, and long for them to join our family at the Lord’s table.
  7. A planter is not alone, not a rogue. Hopefully we will have missional church planting dioceses, where church planting happens because — not in spite of — the diocese. But there will always be frictions; neighboring rectors may complain because you planted to close to their church [something probably all of us have seen] .
Two of his concluding money quotes:
Anglicanism is more than a style of worship. When you are planting a church, you are not planting a worship service: you are planting a church.
We are not cool and trendy, because that’s not who we are. We are actually really ancient and old, and  there's a truth that goes way beyond any of this fluffy stuff that exists right now in our culture. 
I certainly want to commend Cn Alger both for his experience, but so clearly communicating it for the benefit of other Anglican church planters. I recommend the podcast to anyone planting or considering planting an Anglo-Catholic church.

PS: † As an Anglo-Catholic, I was disappointed that this point didn't make explicit reference to GK Chesteron’s most famous line, from Orthodoxy:
Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. 

November 9, 2017

Overcoming consumerism in American Christianity

One of the issues that every new church plant faces is how to attract attention and visibility for their new church. On one hand, this means using modern media (such as web sites, social media, podcasts, videocasts) to get the word out. On the other hand, it can lead to a focus on tailoring the “product” to satisfy “customers” rather than offer the prospective converts the Good News of the risen Christ.

This latter point was the culmination of a commentary last week on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. The commentary seeks to explain where this American Christian consumer mentality came from, with the end of parishioners naturally being assigned to a specific parish

Which Henry Caused the Reformation

by Carl R. Trueman

In fact, I would argue that the single greatest enabler of the modern world’s attitude to religion is not some sixteenth-century Reformer…Henry Ford, not Henry VIII, is the guilty man. The Reformation may have familiarized the world with the concept of religious choice, but that choice became a reality for most people only with the advent of cheap and easy means of private transportation. It was the arrival of the internal combustion engine, and then the mass-produced automobile, that really changed everything. It altered our relationship to time, to geographical space, and to our communities and all that is contained therein. It was the motor car that truly freed people from the constraints of having to worship within walking distance of their home. The motor car made churches into choices, competing for customers in the marketplace of Sunday recreations. It turned us all, Protestant and Catholic alike, into consumerist Congregationalists.
To be fair, this change may have been enabled by Henry Ford, but not one that he oversaw. Instead, the the growth of American consumerism in church — as in the rest of society — would likely be traced through is explosion in the postwar era.

Some of this is due to cars, which were in scarce supply during the Depression and World War II, but become plentiful after the war (and Ford’s 1947 death). But the postwar era and television also brought a new tools of the  mass media – the great American selling machine that sells us soap, dreams of happiness, and even presidents. This trend of the 1950s and 1960s was captured by the TV show “Mad Men” and the book The Selling of the President.

Most Anglo-Catholic church planters seem to understand this dilemma. On the one hand, we have to reach prospective members — whether Anglican, Christian, fallen away or the unbaptized — and have a conversation with them about the triune God, faith and salvation. On the other hand, a church that exists only to put on programs — to attract new members — at best has put the cart before the horse and at the worst has forgotten the teaching and discipling components of the Great Commission.

Various studies and consultants have emphasized the need for the church to be real, honest and authentic, particularly with the Millennial generation. If we really mean it — consistently manifesting the vertical and horizontal fellowship of Matthew 12:29-31 — we may be able to overcome their cynicism that churches (and the Church) are just another organization trying to attract interest and revenues to line its own pockets..

October 22, 2017

Pros and cons of bivocational planting

By J. West

In working with church planters, one of the key questions is always how to provide clergy to launch a parish before it has enough resources to be self sufficient. In some cases, it’s possible to raise external funds from the province, diocese or mother church to temporarily support the planter (typically two years). But in other cases, it’s not.

Bivocational clergy are a common answer to this lack of resources. They are also increasingly used by established parishes, including in The Episcopal Church. For example, a 2013 policy document from The Episcopal Diocese of Texas says:
In the past several years, the Church has been faced with a growing need for clergy leadership in smaller congregations and in churches with unique challenges and circumstances. Studies indicate that most congregations with an average Sunday attendance of 30-75 find it difficult to fund the services of a full-time priest. Congregations with an average Sunday attendance of fewer than 30 are accustomed to utilizing supply and part-time Priests-in-Charge.

Begun in 2004, the Bi-Vocational Priesthood Program gives the Diocese of Texas the ability to provide for the needs of its smallest churches. Bi-Vocational Priests are called to the priesthood but have independent means of income, including retirement or other professions.
At the same time, there are disadvantages to the bivocational approach. Here’s an overview of the arguments.


Many have noted both the prevalence and advantages of bivocational clergy.  The strongest argument is that it allows churches to be created and congregations to be served that — under conditions of limited resources — might otherwise not be served.

Others make even stronger arguments. One of the most enthusiastic advocates is Ed Stetzer, who in an Oct 15 column noted that already one-third of American clergy are bivocational:
Bivocational ministry offers a great opportunity for evangelism. Bivocational pastors are uniquely positioned to live out their pastoral calling as the lead missionary to their local community. As a well-equipped and gifted emissary of the gospel, these ministers can lead their congregations by demonstrating the power of evangelism to build the local church.

In a mission field that is moving in an increasingly secular direction, bivocational pastors are on the frontlines of gospel witness.

In focusing on how bivocational pastoring can facilitate effective evangelism, I will first argue that full-time ministry can potentially hamper cultural engagement. In light of these challenges, I will outline the role of bivocational pastors in leading the church into a season of fruitful evangelism.


On the skeptical side, last week I saw a tweet of an article by Pastor John Starke, a graduate of Southeastern Baptist Seminary and lead pastor of a NYC parish. The tweet refers to a 2015 article, entitled “Cautions Against Bi-vocational Ministry,” posted to  His main points include
  • Bivocational ministry is harder between two careers than between two churches
  • The Biblical demands on a pastor are not part time — and multiple part-time pastors aren’t going to be available in most of the country
  • Something will suffer, most likely the pastor’s family
  • Rather plant 100 under-resourced churches, plant 10 properly resourced churches
I encourage any potential clergyman — or planting team — to read the entire article. These are serious and well-considered arguments.


Based on my own work with church planters — as well with secular entrepreneurs trying to launch a company in their spare time — I think there are two ways that part-time planters can actually work.

One is when the planter doesn’t have to be bivocational, but can get by long term on a part-time salary. The most common example I’ve seen is a military (or other) retiree, but there are also cases of extremely sympathetic (and gainfully employed) spouses. In this case, the pastor is not worrying about supporting his family, but on growing the parish.

The other is when the bivocational period is a temporary measure, typically 2-3 years. I’ve known lots of entrepreneurs who start companies in their spare time, hoping to sprint to creating a self-supporting organization; if they make it, they’re a hero, but if not, eventually they give up.

Short term, a bivocational church planter can leverage the enthusiasm of the launch team and other supporters: a capable part-time leader with a vision and a good team can achieve miracles. Longer term, if the church can’t support the clergy, there will be limits to how long he can sustain the push and contribute to the parish growth, and usually the momentum will stall. (Given the consumerist mentality of American church shoppers, flagging momentum also means that many volunteers will jump ship for some other church).

So in my opinion, the key is to know whether the bivocational calling is a sprint, or a marathon. If a sprint, then there must be a realistic prospect of making it to the finish line — consistent with Christ’s admonition in Luke 14:28-30.

If there is no realistic hope of achieving self-sufficiency in a reasonable amount of time, then it appears there are three alternatives: don’t launch, hold off on launching until adequate resources, or plan to create a small parish with a permanently part-time clergyman. The latter approach poses other challenges, which requires a more complete discussion another time.

October 4, 2017

Why we Plant: Churches Planting Churches

By Father Lee Nelson, SSC

"As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions which had been reached by the apostles and elders who were at Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily." Acts 16:4-5

One of the realizations the reader of the Acts of the Apostles will make is that while the ancient Church was passionate about evangelism, it was every bit as passionate, if not more so, about establishing churches in every city of the world. In a sense, you could say that evangelism was a bridge to the establishment of a local church with local leadership granted authority by the apostles. The above verse speaks of the time just before Paul is called into Macedonia, where he would preach the Gospel in Europe for the first time. The churches of Asia are experiencing explosive growth following the Council of Jerusalem, and for good reason. The Council had made clear her expectations of Gentiles coming to the Faith, and they were not so high as some might have expected. Yet, Luke does not recount that the number of disciples grew, but that the number of churches grew as they received the decisions of the Council. So what we see is the dynamic and exponential growth of churches under the authority of the Apostles and subsequently the proclamation of the Gospel through those churches. This results in the dynamic and exponential growth of the numbers of disciples, but that growth is contingent on the numbers of churches.

Today, research shows us the same phenomenon. In towns with more churches, more people go to church, even when you correct for every other variable. A rising tide truly does lift all ships. We have long been told that personal and individual evangelism is essential to church growth, but does this really fit the bill of the New Testament? The Lord Jesus made fishermen fishers of men. Had they seen a rod and reel, they would not have understood it. These men fished with nets. They were all-or-nothing sorts and as they were taught to become fishers of men, The Lord taught them to rely upon the building up of the ecclesial community to make disciples. You may remember the disciples coming to shore after a long, fruitless night. Jesus commands Peter to put down his nets, and a great catch - 153 fish! - are hauled in. You see, the Church is the great net in which are caught up all the nations of the world. (John 21:11) Personal evangelism, though important, can never be a replacement for the local church.

In the United States, we live in the largest mission field in the Western Hemisphere. There are roughly 120 million unreached Americans. A lack of church planting, as much as cultural forces, has brought us to this point. Population has expanded, and the number of churches has remained relatively stable. It is our conviction at Christ Church that The Lord is calling us to be part of a movement of churches planting churches. It is our belief that as long as there are unchurched people in our city, there is a need for more churches, not less. We also know from the research that new churches make more disciples than older ones. Churches under three years old make three times the disciples as churches fifteen years old or older.

So that is the goal, and we are already going about that work. When I came to Christ Church, the bishop also gave me responsibility for our student ministry at Texas A&M. They had about 25 students and one family. We now have ten families ready to go in that mission. A permanent full-time planter will be starting up in November and December.

Here in Waco, we are beginning to pull together a group of people who will explore a call to plant another parish church in the area. Who knows what it will be like. Would you pray that the Lord will put clarity and passion in that group of people?

The vision at Christ Church is to become a church that plants other churches. We will do that by training up our members - especially students - as planters and evangelists. As these students disperse, they will do so with the skills and tools of church planting in their tool chests. They will know how to catechize. They will know how to find appropriate space, start small, and build patterns of sustainable growth. In other words, they will be fishers of men, mature Christians able to build up the body through replication. 

From the weekly parish email newsletter of Christ Church, Waco.