CMN Director Optimistic
ORLANDO, Florida — Despite the setbacks caused by COVID-19, Church Multiplication Network Director Jeffery Portmann is encouraged about the future of church planting.
Last year, even with lockdowns and government-imposed restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Assemblies of God had 214 church plants. So far this year, with COVID-19 still looming, 131 new congregations have formed.
“The kingdom of God is advancing and can’t be stopped,” Portmann said at an Aug. 4 CMN luncheon at the Rosen Center in Orlando. “God’s not just about our little corner of the world, He’s about the entire world.”
Portmann noted that the average attendance for CMN-planted churches is 278, compared to 143 for other AG congregations. He asked the hundreds of pastors in attendance to prayerfully consider planting a new work.
“If your church is healthy, you should be planting churches,” Portmann said.
At the event, CMN distributed seven 2021 awards:
— Rural Church Planter Award to Chris and CaSandra Brewer, Discover Church in Rogers, Arkansas.
— Urban Church Planter Award to Oneya Okuwobi and her husband, Ayodele, of 21st Century Church in Cincinnati. The multiethnic church is in a parent-affiliated relationship with Peoples Church in Cincinnati. Oneya also has been a freelance writer for AG News.
— Church Planting Leadership Award to Maricela H. Hernandez, Family Christian Assembly in Penitas, Texas. Hernandez has long been involved in ministry to Hispanics along the U.S.-Mexico border. She also is secretary/treasurer of the Texas Gulf Hispanic District.
— Church Planting Leadership Award to Kevin D. Geer and his wife, Tiffany. Geer oversees four campuses of Canvas Church in Montana. Sites in Kalispell, Columbia Falls, Cut Bank, and Billings have a combined weekly attendance of more than 4,000 adherents.
— Leadership Excellence Award to Trevor W. Atchley, pastor of Radical Church and his wife, Lyndsey, in Kyle, Texas. The congregation is in a parent-affiliated relationship with Discovery Church in Yukon, Oklahoma.
— Leadership Excellence Award to Jeff Moors and his wife, Eryn, of Rhythm Church in Oceanside, California. Even with extreme COVID-19 limitations, Rhythm Church — which meets outdoors — is the largest launch in SoCal Network history. The SoCal Network received a District Excellence Award for the 30 congregations planted during the pandemic.
ON GOD’S SIDE
John E. Lindell, an ordained Assemblies of God minister who planted James River Church 30 years ago, spoke at the luncheon. James River Church has nearly 13,000 weekly attendees at campuses in Ozark, Springfield, and Joplin, Missouri.
Lindell, a member of the CMN lead team, said church planting is the primary biblically inspired way of advancing God’s kingdom.
“It’s how the apostle Paul did it, it’s how we should do it,” Lindell said. Using Joshua 5-6 as a text, Lindell told ministry leaders that they must see in both the natural and the supernatural. He said rather than asking God if He is on their side, pastors should inquire whether they are on God’s side.
“Spiritual vision comes when we submit to God’s purpose,” Lindell said. “God isn’t interested in helping us as much as He is in leading us.”
In some cases, as when God instructed Joshua and the Israelites to march around Jericho for seven days, the Lord directs His followers in unexpected and seemingly illogical ways.
“Winning our battles is not nearly as important as our worshipping the Lord,” Lindell said.