(October 2007: CMT unanimous approval; GSC acceptance in monitoring report)
The General Synod Council (GSC) and the Church Multiplication Team (CMT), in stating this conviction, note that it remains the practice of the GSC and the CMT to ensure that classes, parenting churches, and other partners who may support a new ministry are in consultation with other regional synods, classes, and congregations prior to the establishment of a new ministry. In addition to the intent to provide an accountable and supportive relationship for a new church start, this conviction encourages partnerships across the traditional boundaries of the church out of a deep conviction that these boundaries were never intended to prevent or inhibit mission and ministry.
Can churches and classes plant new congregations anywhere the Spirit leads?
The classis of the parenting church (directive partner) determines the classis that provides accountability and support to a new church start for the first ten years after a New Congregation Plan is approved. This founding relationship will be reevaluated for continued viability and best fit in the tenth anniversary year of the approval of the New Congregation Plan. It is strongly recommended that a member of the management team or steering committee of the new congregation be a member of the local classis in order to encourage relationships and partnerships in the plant’s geographical area to develop, and to bring added value and wisdom to the new congregation.
The new church will maintain its accountable and supportive relationship with the classis of the parent church for the first ten years. It may remain within the classis of the parent church longer, based on the discernment of:
- the church plant itself (now organized as an RCA church)
- the parent church consistory
- the parent church’s affiliated classis
- the potential new classis relationship by transfer
- the regional synod(s) involved
The Book of Church Order places the responsibility to transfer an RCA congregation or church from one classis to another classis with the regional synod(s).
Exceptions to this policy or timeframe should be agreed upon in writing by the same parties.
Reasons for this arrangement:
- The directive partner relationship between plant and parent church is crucial for the success of a church multiplication movement—more crucial than geographical proximity. This arrangement gives church plants a reasonable amount of time to establish their ministry with the support of a parent church and its classis.
- All new congregations are birthed with an expectation that they will reproduce other congregations. The ten-year timeframe provides new churches with sufficient support through a “third generation” of reproduction.
- Parent churches and classes have a wide range of abilities when it comes to birthing and supporting new congregations. Maximizing the relationship networks and planting opportunities of our diverse churches will accelerate the process of bringing Christ’s salvation to lost people groups in North America.
- Clear lines of accountability and expectations benefit each classis and church. These lines protect the new plant from having to depend materially and spiritually on a classis of churches that is not eager or able to provide the support the plant needs. They also protect a classis from having to assume responsibility for a plant it knows little about or has limited capacity to support.
Church plant/regional synod relationship examples:
- A Korean church in Atlanta may affiliate with similar Korean churches of the Classis of New York if these churches will be the active parenting church connection.
- A Hispanic plant in Los Angeles whose leaders are sent out and supported by another parenting church in the Classis of Central California will affiliate directly with the Classis of Central California for the first ten years of its life.
- A classis based in an urban setting can start new congregations in other cities and remain the sending and supporting agency.
- A strong reproducing church in Illinois can send and support a new church start team in Detroit or Cincinnati. The relational and spiritual accountability for that plant will remain with whichever classis the sending church belongs to until the official ten-year review.
- A church plant in a new state can be parented by a church in another synod. For instance, a church in Louisiana or South Carolina could be parented by an RCA church in the Heartland Synod.