April 1st this year will be my 5th anniversary in this role. What a remarkable 5 years it has been! Personally, I have been stretched, challenged, encouraged, daunted and thrilled like never before in 40 years of ministry. To put it another way, I have never so often felt so out of my depth and yet so delighted to be swimming in these waters!
5 years ago we had 145 New Applicants, 96 Assessments (78 from the US, 18 from Europe) and a total of 538 churches.
Now, we have 358 new applicants, 144 Assessments (with 55 from outside the US) and a total of 740 churches.
I mention this, not to make any personal claims concerning it (that would be absurd hubris by any standard!), but merely to show how faithful and abundant in his grace the Lord has been to us. As the report on TGC website shows: Acts 29 should not be here. But we are, and we’re seeing a glorious and captivating vision realised, church by church, city by city, country by country.
Lots of churches and networks are into church planting, but what is bodaciously gospel is our focus on Gospel Priority Areas.
As we go into 2019, I have been thinking about what it is that marks us out as a family of church-planting churches. I think it is captured in this report by our 3 Collaboratives: urban poor, rural and Islam. Lots of churches and networks are into church planting, but what I think is peculiarly and, what I like to call, bodaciously gospel is our focus on Gospel Priority Areas: those areas of our cities, countries and world where Jesus is neither named, nor even known. That’s where we want to invest. What better joy than knowing of churches being planted as people are saved, giving Jesus the honour and devotion which is his due!
Just spend a moment imagining with me:
- What if we could see whole villages in the 10/40 Window won for Christ.
- What if we could see people who are eking out an existence scattered in remote areas, now compelled by the vision of a Saviour who knows and cares.
- What if we could see broken neighbourhoods of emptiness transformed into communities of light.
By the grace of God, through the power of the Spirit, each and every What If, along with myriads of others, can become What Is as we invest sacrificially and radically in becoming even more of a diverse, global family of church-planting churches!
I trust that this mini Annual Report will serve you well and whet your appetite, not only for the full version in July but the Global Gathering in Orlando where it will be launched.
Love. Grace. Peace.