Out of the simplicity and purity of your devotion to Christ applied, would you be inspired to just “go for it” with us in our ambition to participate in planting “Total Christ” or “Five Mark” churches—in what we are inspired to call Mission Anabaino? What IS Mission Anabaino in concrete terms? Mission Anabaino is Mission 10-10-10.
TEN CHURCHES IN GREATER NEW HAVEN…
TEN CHURCHES THROUGHOUT THE WORLD STARTING WITH HAITI…
ALL IN TEN YEARS!
In dollar amounts, we are asking God for 3.5 million dollars wherein 100% of the amount raised will be dedicated to planting what we are calling “Total Christ” or “Five Mark” churches -- ten in Greater New Haven, ten throughout the world, in ten years! And this we hope is only the beginning! Before I briefly describe what we mean by a “Total Christ” or “Five Mark” church, I should perhaps first address some of the questions that Mission Anabaino generates:
1) Is this doable? Ok, and to be absolutely clear, we really are ambitious here for something that is impossible for us! To be sure, you could argue with respect to New England standards that our multi-site church of around 250 or so is relatively large. But if our congregation is viewed demographically and with dollar signs posted on our chests (I know, quite a crass way to speak of the bride of Christ!), even if we were to include the network of CPC grads that are now all over the world, a campaign for 3.5 million ASAP is all but impossible! But then again, what is impossible with man is not impossible with God. And this is our hope of faith. (Not to be confused with hope of presumption -- we will do nothing save what God first provides for us to do.)
And so yes, we DO believe that 10-10-10 is doable and perhaps even then some because we really do believe in Mission Anabaino, NOT merely as a good strategic plan in practical terms, but as God’s divine plan based on HIS theological vision of Christology applied to mission (see front page article, “Why Mission Anabaino?). And whereas we embark on a walk by faith rather than a walk by sight (humanly speaking), we can offer this “sight” based case in point from our own history that illustrates God’s bountiful provision thus far.
Consider this: The amount of money we are seeking is almost exactly the same amount that God just raised up for us in LESS than TEN years above and beyond even our operating cost in order to retire our full mortgage debt for our center city presence @ 135 Whitney Avenue in New Haven. But more to the point, this money was raised while heavily committed to church planting and missions from the very beginning. In other words, God raised up the 3.5 million to pay down our mortgage while from the earliest years of ministry in New Haven we vowed to make church planting a vital strand of our spiritual DNA. We were always about being more than a church plant, but a church planting movement. For instance early on we committed ourselves to planting daughter churches as early and as frequently as we could including a fulfilled commitment to plant our first daughter church before we initiated a building campaign. Up till now, we have been able to plant two daughter churches and also be involved in many more through participation in a church planting movement in New England (cf. article by church planter Mel Sensenig on page 6), we were also able to launch a multi-site church in New Haven of currently three congregations (cf. “CPC 135,” p. 4; “CPC Goatville,” p. 15; and “CPC In The Hill”, p.7) and launch and sustain a university ministry at Yale (cf. University Ministry on page 9). And again, this was the context wherein God raised upon an additional 3.5 million to pay in full for a project that has us now strategically located in center city New Haven adjacent to Yale University from where we can launch Mission Anabaino as God provides!
2) How do you define a potential “site” for church planting? A potential site is any site that we feel is without reasonable access to what we describe as a “Total Christ” or “Five Mark” church as carefully designed upon the apostolic foundation with Christ as the cornerstone. A site then could be defined either geographically or culturally. Though we will always seek to be as multi-cultural as possible in any given location, we have also seen that there is a limit to how “blended” of a culture one site can become such that to not plant additional churches is to either unintentionally “oppress” a given culture and/or not be capable of reaching certain people groups that need Total Christ! Moreover, with a high view of the incarnational nature of Christ’s ascension “flesh” as mediated in/with/through the local body of Christ, we hold to a high view of “local” as then applied to how we theologically define the body of Christ.
3) Why “ten” more churches in greater New Haven? Up to the present, we have been either directly or indirectly involved in planting churches in places where a church planting movement was needed to begin outside of our existing New Haven context. But we have yet to see anything close to a more “saturated” presence of Total Christ in any region of New England. By saturated, we mean where at least most of the people groups defined either geographically or culturally have reasonable access to a Total Christ church. We are eager to present a vision for a multi-site church that is self-conscious in distinguishing the eternal-divine “Word” aspects of Christ as Head over the church from the temporal-human “flesh” aspects of Christ as the body of Christ.
4) Where will you plant the ten churches “throughout the world?” “Throughout the world” will be strategic sites that could be located in other states or countries that do not have access to a Total Christ church. These sites could be places where CPC alumni live, perhaps a college town given our expertise, or destitute places in need of churches. As of now, we have, for several years, been involved in a church planting network in Mirebalais, Haiti and are working with a site pastor there toward the planting of churches is various regions that are presently inaccessible to his ministry. Our relationship with the church movement in Mirebalais has included medical missions and seminary education for indigenous pastors/church planters that God is raising up there. Our first sight is targeting one of the pastors/church planters that is participating in this seminary.
5) How will you allocate the money given? The plan for Haiti is rather simple. It takes an estimated 100k to build a church in Haiti. Churches in Haiti are such as to serve as schools, medical clinics etc. Along with the Haitian seminarians eager to pastor churches, it can be said that if you build it, they come! Our present goal is to target 100k per church plant in Haiti and other places like it. In terms of New Haven, the focus is more in the support of church planters. We are presently committing to approximately 100k per church plant to be allocated over a 3 year period. Given the many opportunities in New Haven relative to sites still within reasonable access to a Total Christ church, we will target the right men less the specific site. The church planter’s first year will be served as a planting intern including a survey of potential sites that fit the planter and then Bible studies within that community leading to core group development. The next two years will be focused on initiating worship and growth. The plan is to build up to three sites in three years and continue those sites until all ten sites are planted. Funds, as needed, with also be allocated toward the organization that will be required for materials development, recruitment, training, site development, etc.
6) You keep talking about “Total Christ” or the “Five Mark” Church. Could you briefly describe what you mean by this? First, we are in the process of developing publishable materials that will hopefully provide a more complete depiction of the Total Christ church and Christian spirituality. We are also hoping to develop materials that can be used for training and can be readily adapted to various church planting contexts. But with that said and briefly, the basic idea of Total Christ is as follows:
“Total Christ” is derived from a concept once popularized by Augustine in the 5th century. In reference to John 1:14, Augustine once penned:
The Word was made flesh, and tabernacled among us; to that flesh is joined the church, and there is made the total Christ, head and body (St. Augustine, On the Epistle of John).
The basic idea is this: As in Ephesians 1:22-23 we believe the fullness of Christ is never experienced apart from participation in Christ as both head and body, as both divine Word and Human Flesh, as the guarantor of an eternal covenant being mediated in/with/through the temple Church. In an era where it seems Christianity is in a constant reactionary pendulum swing from either high gospel or high church, we seek to be both (by high church we mean not high liturgy vs. low liturgy, but the idea that the church as designed by Christ upon the apostolic foundation is ordinarily an essential element of the gospel). We believe there was never a time in all of redemptive history when our salvation was not BOTH a result of Covenant (divine Word) and Temple (become Flesh). These two trajectories are both consummated in Christ and are now being expressed through both “high gospel” and “high church” respectively. Moreover, as our Covenant Head being mediated in/with/through the temple church, we want not part of Christ but total Christ, Christ then as Prophet, Priest and King. Again, there are movements that react against a strong “teaching” focused ministry (Prophet) by becoming more contemplative (Priest) or communal (King), and vice versa. We seek for a more balanced spirituality and emphasis in our churches and Christian lives. With this then as the backdrop, the following are the essential Five Marks for a healthy Christian life and church:
A Gospel (Grace) Centered Church (cf. Eph 2:1-10): The Church designed by Christ will be a place that is safe to be morally flawed and where people are being set free from the fear of condemnation or rejection both from God and one another because of the transformative grace of the gospel. More than a ticket into heaven or the “abc’s” of the Christian life, the gospel of God’s grace in Christ is the “A to Z’s” of the Christian life as to inform every relationship and even the culture of a gospel centered church.
A Missional Church (cf. John 20:21, Mt 28, Rom 1:16-7, 15:20ff, etc.): The church designed by Christ will see itself as existing most ultimately for the sake of God’s glory in Christ for every culture and place. As Ezekiel says close to 64 times in his prophecy, it is not (ultimately) for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord GOD… but for the sake of my Holy name! (Ezek. 32:22). The missional church and life is intentional about making the gospel of grace in Christ accessible to more and more people as per the great commission (Mt. 28:16ff). But more even than this, the church, just being “total Christ,” is missional by her very nature! The church BEING the church in a way that is accessible to the socio-cultural “fleshes” of the world IS evangelistic. Conversion involves more than a “sinners prayer” but entrance through baptism into Christ’s “fullness that fills all in all” via the church (Eph 1:23).
The Faith Confessing Church and Life: (1 Tim. 3:15, Col. 3:16, Acts 20:27, Acts 17:2) The Church designed by Christ transcends political, socio-cultural or economic worldviews and statuses because its identity is fundamentally a shared confession of faith together. “Dogma” as such ‘IS the drama”2 even as this translates into a hunger to know and study God’s word in the process of forming a living faith. Expositional preaching and theological study are all done communally with the church of every place and age (less individualistically) such as to experience Christ as our Prophet!
The Sacramental Church and Life: (Heb. 12:22ff, 1 Cor. 11) The Church on earth designed by Christ will see itself as joining with the church of heaven into a festal gathering of Christ’s presence for the ultimate glory of God among the nations. Worship, as such, is more than something we do. It is something God is doing in/with/through Christ’s sacramental advent by the Holy Spirit that unites to our flesh as the temple-church of God. Baptism once as to enter a person into Christ’s presence (a converting sacrament) and the Lord’s Supper weekly as to renew and persevere a person in Christ’s presence (a renewal rite) define the very culture of the sacramental church such that we don't just “go” to church on Sunday, but we join with and participate together in church with Christ as our Great and High Priest!
The Shepherding Church and Life: (1 Peter 5; Heb 13:7, 13; 1 Tim 3) The Church designed by Christ will take grace-centered shepherding seriously as to be carefully regulated in a way that expresses the doctrines of grace and is regulated by the apostolic foundation (design) itself. Shepherd elders and pastors are themselves under the authority of the church and as such are not self-appointed, but carefully tested and approved by the consensus of the church with respect to being in succession to the apostles’ way of life and teaching. (Acts 8:17, 1 Tim 5:22, 2 Tim.1:6). In this way, we participate in the “binding and loosing” ministry of Christ as King.
If you would like to participate in reaching that $3.5 million goal, please send a check made out to Christ Presbyterian Church (or just CPC) with “Mission Anabaino” in the memo line or donate online by visiting our Acceptiva page, and choosing “Mission Anabaino” in the Donation Applied dropdown box. All donations are tax exempt.