In 1995 a powerful vision for growth turned things around in Classis Central California, which was down to just 12 congregations. Through its harvest vision, the classis identified a calling to grow to at least 32 reproducing churches by 2020. It began with naming four “parent” churches, churches with the potential to launch new congregations.

The four parenting churches were called “bright light” churches, and the goal was to double the number of bright light churches every seven years—to go, in four seven-year cycles, from four to eight to 16 to 32 churches.

They exceeded that goal! By 1998, each potential parent church was growing and had between 400 and 700 worshipers on Sunday. Then Church of the Chimes in San Jose started three congregations; Calvary Reformed Church in Ripon and Christ Community Church in Carmichael each started two congregations; and Tulare Community Church started nine. During this season of planting, all four parent churches grew significantly as well.

 

The graph at right shows the speed with which Classis Central California has been planting new congregations, and it projects that growth through 2020.

Looking Ahead

Parenting churches have the potential to fuel a movement of new self-governing and self-supporting churches across the U.S. and Canada. Healthy, growing, parenting churches should be able to reproduce one new church every seven years. These churches (and the churches they start) have a “multiply and send” mentality; they are life-giving mission stations for the kingdom of God.

The RCA’s 2003 statistical tables show that approximately 167 churches are ready to reproduce. 167 churches already have the right mixture of health, growth, leadership, and size to become parenting churches. An additional 133 churches will be developed into healthy parenting churches through revitalization. Among the eight RCA synods, the breakdown of current bright light churches looks like this:[update stats and graph]

 

Are You Called to the Harvest Vision?

To continue to gain momentum in this church planting movement, we need more parenting churches and more high-quality leaders who will plant and shepherd new churches—servants of Christ, inspired and empowered by the Holy Spirit, who sense God’s call to plant new churches to reach people with the gospel.

Is God calling your church to plant a church?[link to more info on parenting]

Is God calling you to be a church planter?

Parenting Churches Give New Church Plants 6 Advantages

  1. Their survival rate triples from 25 percent to over 75 percent.
  2. They are more creative in methods.
  3. They are more racially and economically diverse.
  4. Their attendance higher, thanks to “seed” attendees from the parent church.
  5. They are more likely to start another new church.
  6. It takes less time for them to become self-supporting and self-governing.

To learn more about parenting a new church, please call the RCA Church Multiplication office at (800) 968-3943. We would love to hear from you!