As a denomination, the EPC is focusing our national ministry efforts on four Strategic Priorities: multiplication, transformation, effective biblical leadership, and global movement. These priorities 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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The primary way that the priority of Multiplication is implmented in the EPC is through church planting. 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.
The future focus of the CPT is:
1. Put more time, attention and resources into recruiting the next generation of church planters from seminaries around the country.
2. Continue to offer church planting leadership diagnostic for church plant launch teams, church sessions, or planting networks who need support in beginning 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..
As of June 2019, there are more than 40 active EPC church plants in 13 states around the country—which is about 7 percent of the total number of EPC churches.
Click here for more information about EPC church planting.
In the EPC, the priority of Transformation is implemented through a “Matching Funds Grant” approach for local congregations to pursue church revitalization. In the FY20 EPC operating budget approved by the 39th General Assembly, funds have been allocated to match those that a local church and its presbytery are willing to invest in a church revitalization project. These matching grant funds are intended to assist congregations with their efforts at renewing missional engagement, evangelistic outreach, and organizational health.
Grants are available for $2,500, $5,000, and $10,000.
These funds may be applied toward professional consultants, revitalization organizations, or other revitalization efforts that are consistent with the EPC’s confessional and missional standards.
Click here for more information on Church Revitalization Matching Grants, including parameters and how to apply.
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.