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Executive editor and publisher of Ministry Today
Where There Is Life, Things Grow
| By Billy Hornsby
The Association of Related Churches (ARC) started in 2001 with two church plants. Each one was named the fastest-growing church in America. In 2008, Church of the Highlands, Birmingham, Ala., pastored by Chris Hodges, was named the No. 1, fastest-growing church by Outreach magazine. Then in 2009, pastor Rick Bezet's New Life Church in Little Rock, Ark., earned that distinction.
There are now 200 new church plants in ARC since its conception. Each one is a life-giving local expression of the person of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Cell Church Movement back in the 1990s was very significant to the church around the world. It accomplished two major things for the church. The movement developed leaders who learned how to gather people, lead a meeting, prepare a message and raise up other leaders. Secondly, it refocused the local church on evangelism.
At our church we trained more than 600 cell-group leaders who won more than 5,000 souls in their homes in a five-year period. This was an amazing time for the church. Prior to cell groups, the church had reached a plateau. Launching new "ministry cells" in homes changed all that. But cell groups were not enough.
While traveling around the country and having the opportunity to speak in so many of the churches that were transitioning to a cell-based ministry, I noticed some alarming things. Though the church was raising up leaders and starting cell groups that ran during the week, Sunday services hadn't changed. They were lifeless and outdated.
After each visit I would ask my wife, Charlene, if she would attend the church we had just visited if she lived in that city. She said no 85 percent of the time. Why? There were a few outstanding characteristics that seemed to be present in each church but the main ingredient missing was life.
Life is that element that gives the church a sense of God's presence and movement. It is the pulse of purpose and the reality that you are moving forward. It is contagious and everyone who is exposed to it gets infected and then addicted to it. After a few weeks of experiencing life in the local church, it is hard to go back to the mere religion that many churches offer.
This is why ARC was founded. We exist to plant life-giving churches that are friendly, value people, serve communities, reach the lost and redefine what Spirit-filled churches are all about. ARC trains pastors to be authentic, life giving and how to raise up leaders that will go and plant more churches that will impact our nation with the gospel of Christ.
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