How can the Brethren in Christ in the U.S. strengthen their commitment to planting and multiplying churches? That’s the question that drew together over 40 pastors, leaders, and aspiring church planters from across the United States for a three-day summit in March 2015.
Jointly sponsored by the Susquehanna, Atlantic, and Allegheny Regional Conferences of the BIC U.S. and held at Pathway Community Church (York, Pa.), the “Navigating Church Planting” summit focused on networking, encouraging, and equipping BIC people for future success in church planting and multiplication.
A key goal of the event was to consider the ways in which BIC theology might distinctively shape practice in church planting and multiplication. According to Jon Hand, pastor of Engage Community Church (Carlisle, Pa.) and one of the conveners of the summit, “There are many resources available for church planting and multiplication within the broader Evangelicalism. But we want to know how our particular Anabaptist, Pietist, and Wesleyan Holiness heritage moves us forward in mission.”
To that end, the summit included a variety of sessions specifically focused on this topic. They included “Church Planting with the Three-Legged Stool: The Significance of the Wesleyan, Anabaptist, and Pietistic Ethos in the Current Mission Landscape,” delivered by Rod White, pastor of Circle of Hope (Philadelphia, Pa.), and “The History of Church Planting in the BIC and Where We Go From Here,” delivered by Ron Bowell, pastor of CrossRoads BIC (Salina, Kans.). Altogether, the summit included five plenary sessions as well as workshops for new church planters as well as seasoned veterans alike.
In addition, the summit featured input from leaders in Ecclesia Network, an organization dedicated to partnering with, equipping, and multiplying missional churches.
Hand notes that the summit was a “huge success,” and he looks forward to seeing how this and similar future events will impact the course of church planting and multiplication within the BIC U.S. moving forward.
“The BIC has a long history of church planting,” he adds. “Now it’s time to build on our heritage by challenging ourselves to greater levels of impact and effectiveness.”