In the ever-growing landscape of Christian churches, we come across various denominations, affiliations, and networks. Among these, the Association of Related Churches (ARC) has emerged as a significant and influential organization. This article delves deep into the concept of ARC Churches, their origin, beliefs, and mission. As we explore this contemporary movement in Christendom, let us remember the words of Jesus: “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20, NKJV).
ARC is a global network of churches that have come together with a shared vision of planting life-giving churches worldwide. This association exists to provide resources, training, and guidance to church planters and pastors, with an emphasis on spreading the Gospel and making a difference in their communities. In this post, we will discuss the history, core beliefs, the ARC process, the impact of ARC churches, and some potential criticisms.
History of ARC Churches
The Association of Related Churches was founded in 2000 by a group of pastors who shared a common passion for church planting and growth. These visionaries included Greg Surratt, Rick Bezet, Chris Hodges, Dino Rizzo, and Scott Hornsby. They came together with a dream to create a relational and supportive network that would enable pastors to plant and grow life-giving churches.
The ARC model of church planting was born out of this vision, and it has since grown into a global movement. With over 800 churches planted worldwide, ARC continues to expand and impact communities for Christ. These churches are united by a shared mission to make a difference and help people encounter the love and grace of Jesus Christ.
Core Beliefs of ARC Churches
ARC Churches are rooted in a set of core beliefs that are firmly grounded in the Bible. These beliefs act as a foundation for their mission and vision. Some of these core beliefs include:
- The Bible as the inspired Word of God: ARC Churches believe that the Bible is the infallible, inspired Word of God and is the ultimate authority in matters of faith and practice. They adhere to the teachings of the Bible and consider it their primary guide. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16, NKJV).
- The Trinity: They believe in one God, eternally existing in three Persons – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This concept of the Trinity is central to their understanding of God’s nature and His work in the world.
- Salvation through Jesus Christ: ARC Churches believe that salvation is available only through faith in Jesus Christ, who died for our sins and rose again. They emphasize the need for repentance, faith, and a personal relationship with Jesus to experience eternal life. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NKJV).
The ARC Process
The ARC process consists of several stages designed to identify, train, and support potential church planters. These stages include:
- Assessment: Potential church planters are thoroughly assessed through an application process, interviews, and an assessment retreat. This process helps identify their strengths, weaknesses, and readiness to lead a new church.
- Training: Approved candidates receive training through ARC’s Church Planter School, which equips them with essential knowledge and skills for planting and leading a successful church.
- Coaching: Once training is complete, church planters receive personalized coaching from experienced pastors and leaders within the ARC network. This support system helps them navigate the challenges of church planting and leadership.
- Resources: ARC provides valuable resources to church planters, including financial support, access to cutting-edge technology, and creative tools for worship and outreach. These resources empower new churches to make a lasting impact in their communities.
- Networking: As part of the ARC family, church planters are connected to a global network of like-minded leaders who offer encouragement, advice, and support. This sense of camaraderie helps foster unity and collaboration within the greater Church.
Impact of ARC Churches
ARC Churches have made a significant impact on communities worldwide, demonstrating their commitment to the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NKJV).
- Church Planting: The primary goal of ARC is to plant life-giving churches, and they have successfully planted over 800 churches worldwide. This rapid growth testifies to the effectiveness of their model and their passion for spreading the Gospel.
- Community Impact: ARC Churches are actively engaged in their communities, demonstrating the love of Christ through outreach programs, volunteer work, and charitable giving. They seek to make a tangible difference in the lives of the people they serve, reflecting Jesus’ compassion and care for the marginalized and hurting.
- Global Reach: The influence of ARC Churches extends beyond local communities to the global Church. Through partnerships with other ministries and organizations, ARC Churches have been involved in various international missions, humanitarian efforts, and church planting initiatives around the world.
Potential Criticisms of ARC Churches
While ARC Churches have made a positive impact in many ways, they are not without potential criticisms:
- Lack of Denominational Accountability: Some critics argue that ARC Churches lack the accountability that comes with a denominational affiliation, which may lead to doctrinal inconsistencies or potential abuses of power. However, ARC Churches counter this by emphasizing their strong relational ties, shared core beliefs, and robust support systems.
- Focus on Church Growth: Another criticism leveled against ARC Churches is their emphasis on numerical growth and church planting, which some argue may lead to a shallow understanding of discipleship and spiritual growth. Nevertheless, ARC Churches maintain that they prioritize both growth and spiritual depth, as they believe that healthy churches produce spiritually mature disciples.
- Homogeneity: Critics also argue that ARC Churches tend to have similar worship styles and ministry approaches, which may limit diversity within the Church. While it is true that ARC Churches share certain characteristics, they also encourage each church to embrace its unique context and culture, thus fostering a level of diversity within the network.
The Association of Related Churches (ARC) is a vibrant and influential network of churches committed to planting life-giving churches worldwide. By focusing on core beliefs, a supportive process, and a shared vision for spreading the Gospel, ARC Churches have made a lasting impact on countless lives and communities.
As we consider the role of ARC Churches in the broader Christian landscape, it is essential to remember that unity and diversity can coexist within the Body of Christ. While ARC Churches may have a distinct approach to ministry and church planting, they are ultimately part of the larger Church, working together to fulfill the Great Commission.
In conclusion, ARC Churches offer an inspiring example of collaboration and partnership in the service of Christ. May their passion for the Gospel and commitment to planting life-giving churches continue to inspire and challenge all believers to work together for the advancement of God’s Kingdom on earth. As the Apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 12:12 (NKJV), “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.” It is through our unity and cooperation in the diverse and global Church that we can best reflect the love, grace, and truth of Jesus Christ to a world in need.