As a denomination, the EPC is focusing our national ministry efforts on four Strategic Initiatives: church planting, church revitalization, effective biblical leadership, and global movement. These initiatives have been an important part of the statement of vision we adopted in 2014: “To the glory of God, the EPC family aspires to embody and proclaim Jesus’ love as a global movement of congregations engaged together in God’s mission through transformation, multiplication, and effective biblical leadership.”
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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.
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.
For 2017-18, the goals of the CPT are:
1. Determine the early steps needed to expand EPC church planting in multiethnic settings and underserved neighborhoods, in preparation for launching at least two new EPC church plants that meet these criteria by 2018.
2. Create and implement better tools to capture and collate EPC church planting data such as conversions, budgets, growth, and particularization as metrics by which to better identify and measure the success of our investment in church planting and our strategy for church planting.
3. Launch an initial cohort-training model for current church planters in order for them to have ongoing community and learning opportunities without leaving their church plant site.
There are 37 active church plants in the EPC as of September 2017, which is 6.2% of the total number of EPC churches. For more information about EPC church planting, see www.epcchurchplanting.org.
Coordinated church revitalization efforts in the EPC are facilitated by the GO Center and the Church Revitalization Task Force under the leadership of Dr. Ken Priddy. The GO Center’s focus is the development of missional churches that are led by missional pastors and leaders. This development is driven by training, consulting, and coaching that are provided by the GO Center team.
When a church seeking revitalization enters into a formal relationship with the GO Center, Vision Team Coaches—in partnership with Presbytery Coordinators—work with the congregation’s Vision Team (which leads the revitalization efforts for the church). Presbytery Coordinators serve as the link between each presbytery and the GO Center.
The GO Center was founded in the Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic and later merged with the EPC Revitalization Task Force when the ministry of the GO Center was nationalized in 2015. The GO Center is now accessible to all EPC presbyteries and churches.
For more information about the GO Center and church revitalization, see www.epcgocenter.org
The EPC has been a global since before the term was clarified as part of the vision statement. Early partnerships with national churches in Brazil, Argentina, and Kazakhstan set the tone for a denomination on mission. Recently signed ministry partnership agreements with Presbyterian bodies in Mexico and Peru provide opportunities for church planting and other ministry.
World Outreach, the global missions arm of the EPC, focuses its work in “The Hard Places” of the Middle East, North Africa, and other predominantly Muslim areas of the world where few, if any, have access to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The vision of World Outreach is to glorify God through full-cycle church planting that firmly establishes the Church of Jesus Christ among the least-reached peoples on earth, with a primary focus on the Muslim world.
This vision is central to the EPC as a whole. In fact, fully 20 percent of Per Member Asking contributions supports the ministry of EPC World Outreach.
EFFECTIVE BIBLICAL LEADERSHIP
Creating a leadership development culture is critical as the EPC seeks to sustain long-term, transformational growth. A key implementation of that strategy is the annual Leadership Institute, held in conjunction with the General Assembly meeting each June. The Leadership Institute features plenary speakers, as well as a variety of seminars on a host of topics pertinent to church leadership development.
Topics for these have included The Impact of Leadership on Church Revitalization; Six Key Relationships Every Pastor Needs; Building a Culture of Generosity; Leaders Who Matter; Multiplying Leaders: Internships and Residency Programs; Reaching the Next Generation; Strengthening the Small Church; Transformational Family Ministries; Strategic Church Planting in the 21st Century; and many more relevant subjects.
Past plenary speakers have included Thom Rainer, author of Simple Church; renowned church historian Mark Noll; David Kinnaman, President of Barna Research; and several others.
In addition to the Leadership Institute, a number of ministry-specific and presbytery-level leadership development events are scheduled each year, including workshops for church administrators and executive pastors; the annual church planters’ retreat, an annual chaplains’ workshop, and more.