Thursday, November 30, 2023

ARC Church Planters Offer Insight into Finding the Right Place to Launch

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Esperanza Squire
Esperanza Squire
Esperanza Squire is a Lifestyle journalist with nearly 20 years. While studying journalism at Boston, Esperanza found a passion for finding local stories. As a contributor to Business News Ledger, Esperanza mostly covers human interest pieces.

For many church planters, deciding to start a church of their own is the easy part. Deciding where that new church should be located is an entirely different story. Networks such as ARC (Association of Related Churches) offer support in finding the right place to launch.

Earl and Oneka McClellan, the founders and lead pastors of Shoreline City Church in Dallas, Texas, know that experience first-hand. The idea for launching their new church in January 2012 came from a dream that Earl had on his birthday in October three years earlier.

After having the dream that he needed to start and lead a new church, he woke Oneka to tell her everything. In what was a surprise to Earl, his wife said she had known all along that this was his calling from God. But where was that church supposed to be located?

The McClellans say they advised and trusted in the leadership at their church at the time to find the right place to launch their church.

A Random Trip

In 2010, the McClellans were in Dallas on a random trip when Earl said he felt called to the city.

“I felt like God put a jacket on me and said, ‘This is where you’re supposed to be.’”

One of the main things that both Earl and Oneka loved about the idea of starting their new church in East Dallas was that it was an unchurched area. In addition, it was a very diverse area with rich, poor, black, white, Latino, married, and single people.

This was a place that was in need of all that churches had to offer, the McClellans felt. And it’s a lesson the couple says that anyone who launches a future church should heed.

Serve Those Who Aren’t Served

As Earl McClellan points out, the Bible doesn’t paint a clear picture of all the rules. Unlike many other things in life, the Bible gives a lot of guidance but no strict ways that things have to be done.

In many ways, that freedom can be scary. But, at the same time, there are unwritten rules that church planters can rely upon.

One of those unwritten rules is to serve with honor. You want to serve people in a way that adds to their lives, helps them, lifts them up, and supports them.

Oneka points out that so many church leaders worldwide are so passionate about what they do that they often forget about those who are lost. She says she’s seen so many pastors who try to find people who are already found instead of going after the lost.

That’s important insight the McClellans say is important for church planters to know. Their goal at Shoreline City Church was to find the people who were lost and those who were unserved by a church that could share the word of God with them.

By doing that, by serving an unserved area, the McClellans and Shoreline City Church has been able to have a bigger impact than it possibly could have otherwise.

Leave Room to Grow

As the motto of ARC (Association of Related Churches) says, “Don’t do ministry alone.” Networks such as ARC offer valuable expertise to identify unchurched areas, provide resources, and support church planters.

Pastor Dino Rizzo, Executive Director of ARC Churches, explains: “You want to find a place where you can have just a little bit of room. You don’t plant a tree up under another tree. Get out a little bit, get your little yard, where you can grow and produce some fruit. And it seems like where you’re now in this part of the city, it’s like you have a little room.”

About ARC (Association of Related Churches)

ARC (Association of Related Churches) represents a collaborative network comprising independent congregations from various denominations, networks, and backgrounds. Its primary mission is to provide essential support and resources to church planters and pastors, enabling them to effectively share the teachings of Jesus. ARC’s operational approach revolves around empowering and equipping church leaders, fostering the widespread dissemination of the life-changing message of Jesus. Established in 2000, ARC has evolved into a worldwide entity and has played a pivotal role in facilitating the establishment of over 1,000 new churches.

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