The Assemblies of God launched an aggressive church planting initiative that will bring Sunday worship services to popular hangouts in the next two years.
MX9 is a new campaign in which the Pentecostals will double their current church plant rate aiming for 1,000 new churches by 2009. And already, 610 church starts have been pledged.
"MX9 will be a great catalyst to help us move forward in our calling as Christians to fulfill the Great Commission," said U.S. Missions Executive Director Alton Garrison, who was elected last week at the General Council.
The next 1,000 churches will be launched not only in churches but also in shopping centers, movie theaters, rented schools, coffeehouses, homes and even satellite sites as the nation's largest Pentecostal denomination adopts ways to reach the unchurched in the 21st century.
According to Steve Pike, director of church planting for Assemblies of God U.S. Missions, MX9 represents the first centralized strategy and source of funding to promote church planting since the denomination renewed its church planting focus in the 1990s.
The Church Multiplication Network, which Pike is directing, will create a fund from which new churches can be supported indefinitely. Local church planters will raise funds for start-up costs and the Assemblies of God will match the funds raised with loans available exclusively to church planters that partner with districts or parent churches. There is a $30,000 cap per congregation. When the money is repaid, the limit will be raised. The Assemblies of God has committed $2 million to the Church Multiplication Network. Pike called the new initiative a revolutionary way of thinking about church starts.
The church planting thrust comes as the Pentecostal denomination is placing greater emphasis on world evangelization.
Although the Assemblies of God has grown to over 2.8 million members in the United States and 57 million worldwide, retiring general superintendent Thomas E. Trask called Pentecostals to focus on the billions of people around the world who have yet to know Jesus Christ. Last week, 123 new World Missions candidates were commissioned to go to 51 nations.
The Assemblies of God currently has more than 2,700 missionaries and missionary associates in 212 countries. The 2007-2008 missions theme is "Everywhere."
"We have to overcome the thinking that everyone in America has been presented with the gospel. There are millions of people who are isolated from any meaningful contact with the body of Christ," said Pike.
This year, Pentecostal youth have also launched their greatest student evangelism initiative Dreaming 2015 with a goal of reaching 1 million American teenagers and grafting them into a local church by the end of 2015.
"Our Fellowship was birthed with a heart for evangelism. We are asking the Holy Spirit to call adults and youth those with credentials and laypersons to evangelism," David Lee, director for Assemblies of God World Missions U.S. Relations.