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Church Planters Honored

CMN is implementing new methods to increase the number of congregations in the Fellowship.

ORLANDO, Florida — Chris Railey reviewed the history and future of the Church Multiplication Network Aug. 1 in a luncheon attended by 450 pastors.

Railey, who serves as CMN director, recalled how the Assemblies of God has planted 3,785 congregations since Steve Pike pioneered CMN in 2008. In the past 11 years, 7,800 church planters have been trained and 550 church startups financed by the AGTrust Matching Fund.

“Our biggest need is not money,” Railey said. “The biggest issue we’re dealing with is where the leaders come from.”

CMN is addressing that matter on multiple levels. An annual conference started last year has become a vital recruiting tool. The ministry also has implemented a series of eight Launch events per year, attended by prospective church planters. Those neophytes are encouraged by a growing field team.

One of the newest innovations has been CMNU, headed up by Preston Ulmer, recently hired as part of the CMN national staff based in Springfield, Missouri. CMNU seeks to develop relationships with potential church planters who aren’t necessarily ready to step into ministry in the immediate future. CMN also offers a plethora of free resources for church planters.

At the luncheon, Railey recognized Tyler R. Hagan, who on Sept. 15 will launch the first Assemblies of God congregation in Oakland in 40 years. Currently, only two AG churches exist in the California city of 433,000.

Hagan explained how God stirred in his heart to pioneer Anthem Church six years ago. However, the vision remained dormant until July 2018, when he and his wife, Nicole, and their two toddlers, Elias and Gemma, moved to the Bay Area from Sacramento. The Hagans have since raised a team of 45 from the area who have agreed to attend Anthem Church.

The 33-year-old Hagan explained that he learned to get to know local residents of the largely unchurched region by working as an Uber driver three mornings a week. A former gang member that Hagan befriended is among the new church support team. His three children will be baptized at a preview service later this month.

Hagan urged prospective planters to be mentored by seasoned coaches, to receive clarity from God, and to keep spouses informed of their plans. Hagan’s father, Scott, is president of North Central University, a former California church planter, and a member of the CMN lead team.

Railey distributed seven 2019 church planting and leadership awards during the meeting:

• Rural Church Planter Award to Gerad and Melanie Strong of Bethel Church in Rapid City, South Dakota. The 70-year-old church now has four campuses with 1,700 combined attendees. In September, Bethel Church will add three campuses in nearby small towns.
• Urban Church Planter Award to Joey and Lauren Furjanic of The Block Church in Philadelphia. Since starting in 2014, The Block Church has added two more sites and now over 1,000 people attend in all.
• Church Planter of Excellence Award to Travis and Brittany Jones of Motivation Church in Richmond, Virginia. After opening in 2017, Motivation Church has increased to multiple services with 600 attendees.
• Church Planting District of Excellence honors went to two recipients. A total of 42 congregations have started in the Ohio Ministry Network (John Wootton superintendent) in the past two years. Also, 100 congregations have opened in the Northwest Ministry Network (Don Ross superintendent) since 2015.
• Two couples received Church Planting Leadership recognition. Rodney and Shannon Fouts launched North Church in Oklahoma City 17 years ago. From that body, six other churches have started, which in turn have spawned other congregations. Doug and Peggy Vagle began The Waters Church in Sartell, Minnesota, a dozen years ago. The parent church will launch its ninth congregation next month.

John W. Kennedy

John W. Kennedy served as news editor of AG News from its inception in 2014 until retiring in 2023. He previously spent 15 years as news editor of the Pentecostal Evangel and seven years as news editor at Christianity Today.