ARC is the acronym for Association of Related Churches and was formed in 2000 by a group of Pastors who had a vision to help other Pastors plant churches. One of these Pastors, Greg Surratt, told his congregation one Sunday that he felt they were to plant 2000 churches. During this time Billy Hornsby, who had the gift of networking and building organizations as well as financial backing, made a visit to Pastor Greg’s church. Billy was intrigued by the large numbers of un-churched people that Pastor Greg’s weekend services were attracting and felt that whatever Pastor Greg was doing ought to be modeled and he joined Pastor Greg in his vision to plant 2000 churches. Not long after, Pastor Greg had the opportunity to help two Pastors, Rick Bezet and Chris Hodges, plant their churches by offering them each an initial investment and any monthly support to meet their budget for the first year. Pastor Greg asked Pastors Rick and Chris, subsequently, to invest the same amount back to other church plants. Pastors Rick and Chris successfully launched their churches in 2001 and their model is now followed by all future ARC church plants. By 2002 other church planters were reusing the money originally given to Pastors Rick and Chris. ARC’s goal is 2000 church plants by 2020. Currently 800+ ARC churches have been planted around the world.
So what makes ARC so special? This year’s theme at Eastside Christian Church in Anaheim, CA was ‘Better Together’ but from the moment the conference started it was apparent that love for Jesus, love for one another, love for the un-churched, and being included in the ARC family is a foundational theme. ARC’s desire is to see all churches healthy. Healthy Pastors, healthy staff and volunteers, and healthy congregations, who want to reach more people with the message of Jesus. The ARC family of churches are close knit and pour into one another by keeping in contact with each other and hosting meet-up events in different areas for this purpose throughout the year. Imagine multiple small groups all over the Nation for Pastors and leadership.
Attending an ARC church myself, I know that worship and prayer are tantamount. Each main session over the two-day conference started with amazing times of worship with a multitude of people lifting their voices in adoration to Jesus. The conference was saturated in prayer both in the main sessions and the app sessions (workshops). And while I am neither a future church planter or currently in leadership at my church, the messages and workshops were presented in such a way that I found great value in applying them to my life on a personal level as well as the areas of ministry I am involved.
Pastor Dave Patterson (The Father’s House Vacaville, CA) encouraged us to build praying churches stating that, “It is the prayer life of the church that releases the life of the Holy Spirit.” He told us, “Prayer is the way we build the well. You are the stewards and vanguards in the spiritual water source of your city. The battle is always over the water rights.”
Pastor Greg Surratt (Seacoast Church Charleston, SC) shared with us what sixty-year old Greg would tell thirty-year old Greg. He said, “I’d sit down with him and share a verse.”
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Ephesians 6:9.
He told us to:
- Dream big dreams.
- Don’t let average be acceptable.
- Good begins with a dream.
- Don’t do ministry alone you’ve got to find some friends.
He reminded us that in our doing good:
- Expect some weariness.
- Always HALT before making decisions.
- Never make decisions when you’re:
“It’s okay to be tired but don’t let your weariness whip your behind.”
Pastor Kevin Gerald (Champions Centre Bellevue and Tacoma, WA) threw grapes at us! Using grapes as an illustration for his message that we will face giants just as Joshua and the other eleven scouts did while exploring the Promised Land but God has grapes. God has goodness for us and God is for us. “God has grapes!”
One of my favorite workshops was Pastor Miles McPherson (The Rock Church San Diego, CA), who recently launched his book The Third Option which brings to light the racial tension in our Country. Pastor Miles also gave a poignant main session message and at one point he knelt down and said, “It wasn’t about the flag. We need to ask why someone would risk their career over something they believe.” Pastor Miles also encouraged us when it comes to race to:
- Acknowledge you have blind spots.
- Acknowledge your brothers and sisters color.
- View every conversation as a race consultation.
Fun side note, Pastor Miles is a former NFL player with the LA Rams!
As our time at conference was winding down I asked conference attendees what was most impactful to them.
Giselle – “What was most helpful was the ARC woman app session. I know I’m called to be a Pastor and how would that look like to do ministry because I am a woman in a male dominated field.”
Sabrina – I believe the conference as a whole spoke to me in a way that it reminded me of my divine design of how God created me and called me to do.
ARC truly is about love, family, and equipping others to spread the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. ARC President Pastor Greg Surratt states it perfectly, “If you haven’t become a part of the ARC Family, the door is wide open. Through sharing resources and building strong relationships, we can plant and multiply churches around the globe and reach more people with the life-saving Gospel of Jesus!”
To learn more about ARC you can visit their website at https://www.arcchurches.com