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Next30 Conference: The Future of Church Planting in North America

Next30 Conference: The Future of Church Planting in North America

by The Rev. Dr. Jon C. Shuler, PhD
Special to Virtueonline
September 1, 2023

In 1993, three Episcopal bishops cast a vision for church planting in North America that would lead to the founding of hundreds of congregations. This fall, as that effort celebrates its 30-year anniversary, a gathering will take place in Little Rock, Ark., to consider the lessons learned over the past three decades, connect with fellow believers who feel God's calling to lead, support and/or facilitate church planting, and to look ahead to the next 30 years of church planting in North America.

The "Next 30" Conference will be held at St. Andrew's Church in Little Rock Nov. 6-8, 2023. Co-sponsored by the New Anglican Missionary Society (NAMS) and Anglican Associates, Inc. (AAi), the conference is designed for all in North America who are committed to the ministry of church planting.

Featuring a variety of case studies from the past 30 years of church planting in North America, attendees will hear stories of struggle, survival and thriving success. Throughout the conference, attendees will have the option to attend four of 12 typical case studies. If a team of three come from any jurisdiction or parish, they will be able to hear all of the case studies. All attendees will hear the principle case studies given by long-seasoned Anglican church-planting leaders from North America, participate in morning prayer and evening worship, and hear from the keynote speakers. Both typical and principle case studies will have breakout discussions following, and the conference's organizers anticipate the surrounding conversations, idea sharing, and peer networking will make the time well worthwhile.

The conference's two keynote evening speakers will be Winfield Bevins and Brent McHugh, both of whom are Anglican presbyters and church planters. Bevins, based in Asbury, Ky., has been the executive director of the Asbury International Church Planting Initiative for the past 10 years and has recently launched a new global initiative called Creo (www.creoartguild.org) to see Christian art guilds founded in partnership with the church. McHugh, based in Malaga, Spain, served for many years in Turkey among Farsi-speaking refugees, and has been the international director of the mission agency Christar www.christar.org for eight years. He is also the dean of the English Speaking Anglican Churches of the diocese of Spain and their Canon for Church Planting.

The evening sessions will be focused on church planting for the extension of the kingdom of God in North America and the world and will include times of worship and the keynote addresses. These evening sessions are open to the general public of central Arkansas free of charge, though registration is still required.

To register, go to www.next30conference.org. There is a tiered cost for the daytime sessions, favoring early registration. There is also a discounted registration for diocesan or parish groups of three.

The goal for this conference is to see all whose hearts burst with hope for the future of both the new Anglican movement in North America and church planting among faithful Christians more broadly come together in prayer, fellowship and collaboration to more effectively spread the gospel.

About the New Anglican Missionary Society

Thirty years ago, the North American Missionary Society was conceived, and then publicly launched the following spring at the first New Wineskins Conference. Called into existence by three American bishops, NAMS was soon invited, as well, to serve in England by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, and its name was changed there, in 1996, to the New Anglican Missionary Society. Over the past three decades NAMS has been a major contributor to many hundreds of new Anglican church plants throughout the globe, over two hundred in North America. Organized as a missionary order, NAMS companions are serving in more than 40 nations. By first establishing a base community, from which they serve the whole church, NAMS companions, while living under their rule, seek to partner with all who see the great need for new work. The majority of companions are lay leaders, and all ordained companions are canonically resident under an Anglican bishop with jurisdiction.

Though there were a few growing diocese that pioneered planting new parishes, it was a resolution at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in 1991 that sounded a call for "a thousand new churches" to be planted during the Decade of Evangelism. The founders of NAMS answered that call in 1993. That call was again set forth by Archbishop Bob Duncan at the birth of ACNA in 2009. NAMS believes it is time for us all to bring our many different experiences under review, that we may learn from one another, and better glorify God by our future efforts.

Through the Next 30 Conference, NAMS is turning some of its energy and resources--in this its anniversary year--to a comprehensive review of all the new Anglican church planting that has been done by North American Anglicans in the past 30 years, with a desire to discover and encourage an even more effective and productive path for the next 30 years.

About Anglican Associates, Inc.

AAi, a church planter training ministry founded in 2017 in Little Rock, is designed to provide a cohort of leaders with the highest quality leadership training, preparatory to planting high-impact churches in North American cities and regions and to "the ends of the earth." Training, drawn on the best examples and involving leaders and congregations from throughout North America, is provided by seasoned and effective church planters, established and effective church-planting coaches, and mature and effective Christian business leaders.

You can see videos here: https://www.youtube.com/@next30conference/videos

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