ARC

The Every Day Battle Field

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These past couple of weeks have been filled with preparations for the ARC AllAccess Conference (Gateway Church, Dallas, TX), which will be at the end of March.  Over 3,000 pastors and church leaders are already registered!  At the conference, there will be lots of opportunities to network with tons of outstanding pastors, hear some of my favorite speakers (including Christine Caine, Priscilla Shirer, and Craig Groeschel) and worship with thousands of others who are passionate about reaching our communities in real and relevant ways.  And, EuropeAdvance will be launching its new internship Xchange program!  Needless to say, we’re excited and gearing up for the great things ahead! In the midst of all these preparations, these past few weeks I have also been reminded of all the depravity in this world that my eyes have personally seen:  alcoholism, divorce, robbery, death, suicide, starvation and malnutrition in less developing countries, AIDS orphans, adult invalids left for the dead, the destruction caused by hurricanes and tornadoes, cancer, malaria, the aftermath of wars, racism, sexism, and most recently the horrors caused by drunk driving.  If you’ve ever wondered if we lived in an every day battle field, I assure you we do.  :)

I admit that there are times when the outcomes of the battle feel all together like too much to bear.  Every casualty takes a little more air out of my lungs…

But thankfully, thankfully, the darkness has not overcome the light!  Every day, there is a reminder that the Remedy has already come, and is here.  Last Thursday night at a prayer vigil for friends who had been hit by a drunk driver, I looked out at a sea of faces to see a community filled with people who had truly laid down their lives to care for and love our friends, and who will continue to do so day in and day out.  Yesterday, I joined good friends as they launched their new church in a community that longs to see the love of God revealed in tangible ways.  330 people attended the service and 31 people gave their lives to Christ yesterday morning!  Talk about a win!

I have decided not to try and understand God, nor our Maker’s ways.  What I do know though is that our Lord and Savior has sent us into this dark world to live out the Good News that hope and salvation is here, today.  I long for the day when heaven truly is a reality here on earth.  Until then, may each one of us, together, live out our God-given mandate to reveal the God of life, love, hope and redemption to a world desperately in need.

Why Church Planting

Over the last year and a half, I’ve gotten to serve and work at Substance Church (St. Paul, MN, USA), which in 2010 was the 21st fastest growing church in the United States.  Weekly, people literally give their lives to Christ as they encounter a community of people who love Jesus and love each other.  Recently, we had a guy come to our Tuesday night service who’d been out of prison for 2 days and he not only gave his life to Christ, but he encountered the love of God in ways that he never imagined was possible!  And we just had a guy whose one eye had been blind since birth receive sight in it for the first time ever after receiving prayer at our Tuesday night service! Substance was started with the help of a church planting ministry called ARC .  New churches are truly one of the most effective ways of reaching people who don’t yet believe in Jesus.  But starting a church is also one of the most challenging things in the world to do.  95 out of every 100 new churches doesn't make it.  But, out of the churches that have been started with the help of ARC, 95 out of 100 not only MAKE IT, but they are literally thriving and reaching new people with the life-giving message of Jesus every week all over the US!

What if this could be the reality for new churches in Europe today?!  I mean in Europe, people literally don’t know that God is relevant for their life today and actually real.  They do not have church communities that they can walk into and have a home, have authentic relationships with people who genuinely care about them, have a place where they can get prayer, and have places to literally encounter the Body of Christ.  What if 95 out of 100 new churches were not only making it in Europe, but were literally thriving and reaching new people with the life-giving message of Jesus every week?

The hope and prayer of Europe Advance, which is similarly working with new churches in Europe, is that the 95% success rate can be reached in Europe as well!  The Church really is God's plan to reach the world with the Good News today.