Pentecostals Propel Church Planting Thrust

Pentecostals have convened this week to play out a vision to become a church planting and church multiplication movement beginning with 1,000 new churches over the next two years.

There are over 18,000 communities in America without an Assemblies of God church and the Pentecostal denomination has planted a cumulative average of 267 churches per year over the last 40 years. This year, the national church wants to unleash an exponential wave of new church plants.

The Assemblies of God is one of several U.S. denominations that have rediscovered church planting. Earlier this year, it formed the Church Multiplication Network to encourage churches across the denomination to work together and plant as many churches as possible.

As the church body thrusts into the movement, newly elected Assemblies of God General Superintendent George O. Wood has stressed church planting, calling it the most effective means of evangelizing a community.

The network is hosting the Multiplicity 2007 conference in Surprise, Ariz., which kicked off Thursday and concludes Friday. The conference features 18 prominent church planters and speakers including missiologist Ed Stetzer, who is presenting research on church planting trends; Seacoast Church founding pastor Greg Surratt; and National Community Church founding pastor Mark Batterson.

"We're calling this a build your own conference approach," said Steve Pike, director of the Church Multiplication Network, explaining that attendants will have the chance to listen to speakers in 20-minute presentations about their own church planting experiences and challenges and further engage with them individually at a deeper level throughout the conference.

With church planting being the new cutting edge for reaching more people, according to the recently released State of Church Planting USA study, the Assemblies of God launched an aggressive campaign titled MX9 this year with a goal of doubling their current church plant rate. MX9 is aimed toward seeing 1,000 new churches planted by 2009.

And the Church Multiplication Network will help provide support by creating 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.

The network has made available resources and a place for planters to connect on its website,

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