Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us in Acts 1:8 that the Church will be empowered by his Spirit to reach the world with the Gospel. With the assurance of this promise, and in obedience to the Great Commission, the Lord has blessed the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) with a significant role in extending His Kingdom in North America. Mission to North America (MNA) is called by the General Assembly to lead the PCA in that advancement of the Gospel in the United States and Canada, through:
· planting new churches
· assisting presbyteries and churches in planting new churches
· developing and coordinating campus ministries
· endorsing chaplain ministries
· coordinating urban and mercy ministries
· providing resources for renewal of church vitality
During the past decade in particular, church planting momentum has grown significantly in the PCA. Beginning in 1995, a range of 50 to 60 church planters have been sent out annually across the denomination. Whereas at one time MNA was directly responsible for most of the church plants, MNA’s role now is shifting to a more decentralized and resource-providing role, assisting presbyteries and local churches in their church planting endeavors.
The greatest challenge: finding the men whom, with their families, have sufficient spiritual gifts, experience and conviction of God’s call to plant a church. The vision of the Church Planting Apprenticeship Program is to address this need by placing qualified men in strategic churches within presbyteries to be mentored and trained for starting daughter churches. Further, this proposal enhances the shift to presbytery and local church involvement in church planting, through:
· providing supplemental project funds that enable a presbytery or church to begin a project, but still require substantial local financial
· requiring and providing opportunity for the presbytery or church to take the lead role in training and mentoring the church planter.