Church Planting Approach
Christian Associates is an incarnational church planting mission. Grounded in biblical theology, we believe that God is actively moving and intends the good news of His redemptive love and salvation through faith in Jesus Christ to go viral yet again – spreading from life to life through the "church" – God's people on earth.
The church is the Body of Christ in our world – the collective people of faith who together grow and develop into maturity. The maturing church reveals the attributes of God to a world that doesn't know Him. A CA church proclaims the gospel message of Christ in both deed and word; it seeks to enter into the story of its context and humbly embody the good news of the kingdom from within. The ways a CA church expresses the kingdom are as varied as the cities we live in: A church in Brussels builds friendships with the homeless through shared meals in the soup kitchen, revealing that God provides for those in need. A church in Eastern Europe embraces orphans and helps them grow into mature adults. A church in Montevideo launches an eco-friendly building concept that will provide sustainable livelihoods for many. A church in Minneapolis clothes the homeless with physical and spiritual warmth. A church in Madrid expresses hospitality through the amazing parties they throw. Though not exclusive to Christian Associates, these examples describe a few of the ways our churches are proclaiming God ́s redemptive love and leading people into saving faith.
Our churches embody core values, which express our pattern for life in God's Kingdom. We participate in the mission of God to restore the entirety of creation to relationship with Him. These churches try to live into and bring about shalom – the peace and well-being of God. Revealing this peace through our words and deeds, through our own changed lives, invites people to walk toward ever-increasing faith in Christ. New believers develop into mature disciples leading to new churches.
Within CA, we shy away from formulaic models of church planting. We prefer an approach that allows our churches to grow up within the culture where they exist, emerging from the distinct characteristics of that culture and context. A church planted in the warmth of a Brazilian coastline will have rhythms and practices distinctly different from a church planted among Scandinavians. But by adhering to a theological core and a set of lived-out values, these churches share similar DNA even though their expression of church may look very different within each culture. One context may give birth to a vibrant international fellowship with a building, staff and programs, whereas another environment results in a house church who integrates local language and customs. CA staff (full-time, bi-vocational and affiliate) are trained in our church planting approach. This approach integrates six developmental concepts that move a team from "birth" toward maturity as a church: Embed, Initiate, Practice, Mature, Hub, and Extend.
Incarnational Beginnings – In a new project, the core group of Christians seek to embed in the culture where they live, listening to and participating with people in that context. This posture becomes a life-long practice for the church. From it they are able to initiate efforts to show God's loving presence through serving, meeting needs, and blessing those who live around them. CA calls this outward impulse a "missional initiative."
Deepening Discipleship – Then the group pursues a rhythm of life that becomes transformative. They begin to practice together their values and convictions, developing a pattern of discipleship. They cultivate expressions of worship, community, spiritual development and mission that are easy for others to engage. Our invitational style allows people to feel welcome even if they do not profess personal faith in Christ. We want our friends to experience the joy of "belonging" in community, and to know the meaningfulness of serving in Christ-like ways regardless of their current faith position. We follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit to discern when a person is ready to make a personal commitment to Christ. At this point the fellowship matures together, both individually and as a faith community. And, like the human growth process, maturity takes on unique features and timelines as the church moves toward "adulthood."
Ongoing Multiplication – As our churches "grow up" they create hubs where internal resources and external relationships interact to create new initiatives. This dynamic continues to extend beyond the borders of a given city. A planted tree reaches maturity when it "seeds" other trees into existence, and a person becomes mature when he or she reaches physical, emotional and relational maturity to reproduce. So too, our churches continue on a pathway toward health and maturity that leads to reproduction - where we plant churches who plant churches who plant churches. Multiplication of grassroots church planting movements then becomes possible.
These six dynamics help us know that a church is maturing along the way. Leaders are coached in these concepts in ways distinct to their context. It is far more art than science, more fluid than static, and more messy than one can imagine. But that's also what makes it exciting. Joining God at work. Jumping into the flow of His redemptive purposes in a city. Incarnating His life and presence in ways that invite people to walk toward Jesus Christ. Experiencing the kind of church Jesus died to establish.
Through CA, you can apply to join one of our teams as full-time or bi-vocational staff, or affiliate staff with us. Come Join the movement!