Church of God, ARC Sign Historic Agreement
Cleveland, TN–In a formal ceremony this morning at the International Offices, the Church of God and the Association of Related Churches (ARC) of Birmingham, Alabama, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) which sets in place a strategic partnership for planting churches.
The ceremony took place at the close of a joint prayer meeting with the International Executive Council, in town this week for their regularly-scheduled session, and the Administrative Ministries Council, which includes the directors and coordinators of ministries at the International Offices. The prayer meeting began at 9:00 a.m. and consisted of a short address from General Overseer Tim Hill, followed by prayers for the FINISH Commitment and the ministries of the Church of God around the globe. Offering prayers were executive council members Gerald McGinnis, Ishmael Charles, Samuel Santana, Loran Livingston, and Tony Stewart, as well as World Missions leaders David Griffis and Tom Propes. Special music was provided by the Voices of Lee. The event was livestreamed on churchofgod.org.
As the final agenda item for the morning, Hill introduced the partnership with ARC, describing it as, “the culmination of a lot of hard work” begun when he was director of World Missions for the Church of God from 2012-2016.
“We are taking church planting very, very seriously,” Hill stated. “There were 1,200 churches planted over the last 10 years in the Church of God, but the number of churches that closed in that period is alarming. However, in the last three years, we have planted more – many more – new churches than we have closed. The tide is turning.”
Mitchell Maloney, director of USA Missions for the Church of God, said, “I am excited about the prospect of planting churches…it is part of the Last Days revival.” Maloney reported that funds deposited in a “Church Planting Bank,” established after the General Assembly last year, will be ready to disperse its first funds this coming April.
According to the MOU signed today, the partnership states that ARC, “has created a model for establishing churches and training church planters that is recognized across denominational lines. By this Agreement, the resources and models established by ARC in their church planting process will be available to Church of God as one of the options offered to Church of God church planters:
– ARC will provide Church of God church planters with training, assessing, and launch coaching following ARC’s normal church planting process;
– ARC will not in any way address doctrinal issues in their training process. In addition, Church of God church planters going through the ARC training process will be encouraged to stay true to the doctrinal teachings and polity of the Church of God as set out in the Book of Minutes;
– Potential church planters associated with the Church of God may gain access to the ARC Church Planting Track only through a referral by an administrative official of the Church of God. When the church planter comes to ARC through the Church of God referral process, the referring Church official will make ARC aware of, and include, any information that ARC should take into consideration when assessing the church planter;
– In evaluating and assessing Church of God church planters, ARC will use its same standards of assessment that it uses in reviewing other church planters. During the assessment, ARC will assess the church planter’s marriage, money, and ministry experience. ARC will also require that the church planter reach certain milestones during the coaching phase, particularly focused on raising funds for launch day and building a launch team.