Church planting in the EPC is under the auspices of the Church Planting Team (CPT), led by veteran church planter and pastor Tom Ricks. The CPT trains, nurtures, and equips EPC church planters, as well as helps congregations, networks, and presbyteries get the right church planters in the right places. In addition, the CPT goals include:
1. Putting more time, attention and resources into recruiting the next generation of church planters from seminaries around the country.
2. Continuing to offer church planting leadership diagnostic for church plant launch teams, church sessions, or planting networks who need support in beginning church planting.
As of January 2019, more than 40 active EPC church plants minister in 13 states around the country—which is about 7 percent of the total number of EPC churches. These congregations are in various stages of development, from the early planning steps, to home Bible studies, to regular weekly worship, to full particularization as self-supporting, elder-led bodies. In addition, seven Church Planting Networks facilitate church planting in specific geographic regions.
For more information about EPC church planting, contact Tom Ricks at email@example.com.
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MISSION AND VISION
The mission of the EPC Church Planting Team is to cultivate a culture where church planting is embraced, encouraged, and celebrated by all EPC churches, with the goal of each congregation becoming a Parent (by planting one or more new churches), a Partner (joining other EPC churches in their area to plant churches), or a Patron (by providing financial support to those starting new churches) of church planting.
As we look to the future, we will continue challenging every congregation in our denomination to be active on some level in church planting. Today, more than 55 percent of our congregations are participating as a Parent, Partner, or Patron, but we have a long way to go. We will be aggressive in finding new church planters to meet the growing opportunities, while working hard to take good care of our current church planting pastors and their families.
CHURCH PLANTING TEAM REPORT TO THE 39TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY
CHURCH PLANTING NETWORKS
Church Planting Networks are consortiums of churches in a city or region that join forces and leverage their collective resources to plant new congregations. Several of these networks have sprung from EPC church plants themselves, which take advantage of the leadership experience of starting new work. These networks also work in partnership with the appropriate presbyteries to plant new EPC churches.
Among the strategies implemented in these networks are Church Planter Residency programs, in which a prospective church planter enters into an immersive learning opportunity in a collaborative ministry context. A residency program also helps create a pipeline of well-prepared church planters.
Beaver Co. Church Planting Network
Beaver County, Western Pennsylvania
Detroit Area Church Planting Network
Gulf Coast Church Planting Network
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana
Memphis Church Planting Network
St. Louis Area Church Planting Network
St. Louis, Missouri
Each of these EPC church plants is currently meeting for worship and ministering in its local context. We have many more in various stages of development, from the earliest planning stages to core team recruitment to home Bible studies.
These worshipping communities started as church plants, and are now fully self-supporting local churches—which is the goal for every EPC church plant.
CHURCH PLANTERS RETREAT
A significant aspect of supporting church planting in the EPC is supporting and ministering to church planters. A key strategy in supporting EPC church planters is the annual Church Planters Retreat, held each October in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The retreat includes three days of training, renewal, peer networking, breakout and mentoring sessions, fellowship, prayer, and more.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Colorado wildfires, the 2020 Church Planters Retreat has been cancelled. Watch for informtion soon about our series of online dialogues, “Usual Church Planting in Unusual Times.”