Church Planting at FPC
In Acts 13, the church at Antioch fasted, prayed, and sent out Paul and Barnabas to plant the gospel throughout the Mediterranean. Through their faith, combined with the Holy Spirit's power, a series of events were triggered that turned their world upside down. Today, because the same Holy Spirit who empowered that church lives in our midst and beckoned us on a journey of transformation, First Presbyterian Church of Houston wants to participate in and shape a movement in our city and denomination planting the good news of Jesus Christ and multiplying new congregations that seek to reconcile people to God and one another.
FPC Houston has a rich history of planting churches locally and around the world. From its inception in 1839 until the 1970s, nearly every Presbyterian church planted in Houston and the surrounding area was directly or indirectly planted out of FPC. Unfortunately, when starting new congregations stopped being the work of local churches, the multiplication of new congregations through and around FPC slowed dramatically. Though sporadic efforts to start new churches were made, this legacy of sending members into unreached areas of the city became dormant. In 2012, with the adoption of Vision 2020, the leadership of FPC resurrected this founding value and set about preparing to plant ten new churches in Houston in ten years.
"In order for us to fully embrace our mission, it is necessary to make a commitment regarding the type of church we are going to be...We believe that if First Presbyterian Church is going to "carry the gospel to Houston and the world," we will need to make an intentional, significant shift in emphasis to being a "sending, missional, kingdom-focused church."
As a part of that shift, FPC leadership committed to planting ten new churches, equipping 100 ministry leaders, including church planters and missionaries, and raising $10 million for Vision 2020 initiatives. Since this bold vision was adopted, the church has positioned itself to fulfill the goals in several ways:
- We have joined a new denomination, the Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO), which shares our passion to follow the New Testament paradigm of equipping and sending disciples to make new missional communities.
- In the fall of 2016, we sent members and core leaders to help start Seven Mile Road Church, a church committed to reaching non-believers and equipping witnesses through "journeying together, beholding Jesus, and spreading hope."
- In July 2017, we hired three new staff as the first members of our onsite residency with the hope to plant our next church in late 2018.
- We have helped form the Houston Church Planting Network, and four of our staff have participated in residencies with HCPN over the last two years. HCPN is an ecumenical community of churches planting churces so that every man, woman, and child in the city can hear the gospel.
At the time of adoption of Vision 2020, we did not have any strategy, few resources, and little momentum to send disciples out to plant the gospel in the form of new church plants. What we had was prayer, will, and a prompting of the Holy Spirit. Now, God has given us a strategy and resources, and we hope with more prayer, vision-casting, and the Holy Spirit, and we can grow momentum toward becoming a church that plants churches.
Since the adoption of Vision 2020, FPC has been working with other churches and organizations to build a systematic yet dynamic approach to becoming a church that plants churches. An "incubator church" provides a nurturing environment for leaders of future church plants by combining training, mentorship, connections for recruitment, prayer, and financial support in one location. While it is our belief that the entire body of Christ is called to plant churches, we believe visionary leadership is vital to the creation and equipping of the members of this new church plant team. These new church pioneers begin as residents on our staff for a period of 1-2 years with hope that their passion for church planting can galvanize our congregation to grow, give to, and go with other disciples to plant the gospel and build the Lord's church throughout our city.
For Potential Residents: We intentionally develop "new church pioneers" through our on-site residency where men and women are prepared to lead disciples in their call to carry the gospel into the world.
For New Church Plants: We commit to give ongoing support for leaders and core team members of new church plants by reducing the burden, especially operationally and administratively, on new church plants by extending the use of the church's network and infrastructure to them.
For FPC Covenant Partners: In addition to growing the body of Christ numerically, we believe that church plants strengthen existing churches through providing new leadership opportunities, new strategies, and kingdom vitality. We want every member to feel a part of this ministry through regular testimonials, vision-casting, and requests to give financially for current and future church plants.
If you would like to learn more about this vision, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.