I am one who believes history was made this weekend. This weekend the leaders of the Baptists, Presbyterians, and Methodists in Houston signed a “Church Planting Manifesto” that they had written together, and then invited over a hundred other church planters, pastors, lay people, and denominational leaders from all backgrounds to sign it too.
I was part of the “signing” ceremony this noon at First Baptist Church. Mike Cole, our General Presbyter was unable to make the meeting today, so I stood in for him representing the Presbyterians in Houston … I was one of the denominational leaders who stood and offered prayer and blessing as each one stepped forward to sign the Manifesto. I felt as if I were part of a sacred moment. It was truly awesome.
Imagine, Churches setting aside denominational differences in polity and theology, competitive edge, and individual success in order to plant churches together in the city of Houston and Harris County. Here is the last “Whereas” and the “Therefore” of the Manifesto.
Whereas, we, an assembly of church leaders in Houston, on this nineteenth day of January, 2007 do acknowledge and affirm that
- We believe the command of Jesus to make disciples of all people (ethne) is intended for the church today as much as it was intended for the church in the first century
- We recognize that, while it is the nature of the kingdom of God to grow, the population growth of the greater Houston area is increasing faster than the growth of the church which means that the church is losing ground in the city daily, and this troubles us
- We believe a strategy of starting new churches is a primary way to reach those not yet Christians with the gospel and to help them become fully devoted disciples of Jesus
- We realize that no one way of doing church will reach all people (ethne)
- We believe every person should have ready access to a church that is biblically based, doctrinally sound and contextually appropriate to them
- We believe a cooperative, coordinated strategy of church planting that embraces different kinds of churche swill be the most effective way to reach all the people of our city and maximize the resources available to the church
Therefore, we, an assembly of church leaders in Houston on this nineteenth day of January, 2007, do sign this Manifesto in which we acknowledge our denominational and stylistic differences, but commit to working together to develop a strategy for church planting that will reach all the people (ethne) of our city.
What do you think will need to happen in order for us to live up to this Manifesto and work together at planting churches, hopefully fueling a church planting movement in Houston and beyond?