The Anglican Mission in the Americas has unveiled a new initiative designed to plant well over 100 new churches over the next 10 years. Launched in early January, Churches for the Sake of Others is led by the Rev. Dr. Todd Hunter (pictured below) and creates a church planting movement. This movement is designed to develop churches and leaders committed to beginning new congregations located primarily, but not exclusively, on the west coast. These churches will emphasize multiplication as each congregation plants daughter churches at the rate of at least two every five years.
According to Pew and Gallup’s research in 2008, “Younger adults and those Americans who live in the western part of the United States are much less likely to believe in God than are those living elsewhere… The highest number of atheists and agnostics live in the western USA…One quarter of western U.S. adults claim no religious affiliation.” This is the context which serves as the mission field for this new West Coast initiative.
“The Gospel spread in Acts and throughout history via church planting – you and I are Christians today because someone planted a church,” explained Dr. Hunter. “My team is committed to engaging the post-modern culture and drawing the unchurched to Christ by going where they are.”
“Todd Hunter is uniquely gifted and equipped for this ministry,” said the Rt. Rev. Charles H. Murphy, III, Anglican Mission Chairman. “Todd’s tremendous passion for, and experience with, planting churches shaped around Kingdom-based, missional encounters with contemporary culture is just what we need for our West Coast Initiative,” he concluded.
Churches for the Sake of Others is intentionally starting in several cities at one time. “We are not trying to start individual churches; we are trying to start church planting movements that are based in local churches,” Dr. Hunter emphasized.
Response to the new initiative has been extremely positive – individuals and groups across America have expressed interest in planting a church with the Anglican Mission through Churches for the Sake of Others. The budget for 2009 has been fully funded, and Dr. Hunter is now planting new congregations simultaneously in Boise, Idaho and Costa Mesa, California. Other church planters or potential core groups are currently identified in five locations in the greater Seattle area; Portland, Oregon; Reno, Nevada; Salt Lake City, Utah; as well as San Diego, Sierra Madre and Azusa, California. Dr. Hunter has assembled a staff of church planting coaches and mentors to work closely with the nascent congregations.
“We are currently working on 15 church plants with a dozen more possibilities in the pipeline,” Dr. Hunter said. “If we can begin the multiplication phase in the next five years, while continuing to add new church plants, we will, by God’s grace and power reach our goal of launching a church planting movement that includes hundreds of new churches that express the Gospel of the Kingdom on behalf of the least, the last and the left out,” he continued.
Dr. Hunter describes the key characteristics of these new churches as “Gospel and Scripture focused congregations that depend on God’s Holy Spirit, manifest the Kingdom of God in their midst and raise up sold-out followers of Jesus.” In addition, he emphasizes the importance of the components of liturgy, the Sacraments and an order of daily life contained within the fabric of these congregations.
Bringing to this new work over 30 years experience as a church planter and church planting consultant, Dr. Hunter says he has found new life and fresh expression in his current work with the Anglican Mission. Most recently, he served as President of Alpha USA and previously held the position of National Director for the Association of Vineyard Churches (1994-2001) following John Wimber’s death. Dr. Hunter’s book, Christianity Beyond Belief: Following Jesus for the Sake of Others, was published in early February and another book is planned for publication later this year. Ordained to the diaconate last fall, Dr. Hunter will be ordained to the priesthood on March 24, 2009.
“We praise God for continuing to raise up and draw to the Mission leaders like Todd to help us both plant new churches and carry the message of the Gospel throughout North America,” Bishop Murphy said.
The Anglican Mission is a missionary movement of the Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda established in 2000 and is driven by a compelling vision of reaching the 130 million unchurched in North America by building communities of faith and transforming lives. With a focus on evangelism through church planting, the Anglican Mission exists to glorify God and to serve, grow and multiply local churches that love Jesus Christ. Currently there are 143 congregations affiliated with the Anglican Mission with another 45 emerging works in process.