Mission Alive's History
The seeds of Mission Alive were planted in the spring of 2000, when Abilene Christian University gave Gailyn Van Rheenen a sabbatical to study missions in Churches of Christ. During those six months Gailyn found that Churches of Christ tend to be inward focused. They lack processes to help searchers come to faith and grow to maturity in the Lord. Frequently they are more concerned with their distinctiveness as a religious group than with the central themes and theologies of the Christian faith.
A need became apparent: The rebirthing of a movement through the spiritual renewal of older churches as they plant a generation of new churches. After studying processes of church planting in North America for three years, Gailyn gave up his position as a tenured Professor of Missions at ACU in December, 2003, for the uncertainties of beginning a church planting movement.
Over the last four years Mission Alive
has matured into an effective church-planting organization. Numerous Christ-formed, outreach-focused churches
have been planted.
has also teamed with Genesis Alliance
, led by Sixto Rivera, to plant Latino churches at Highland Oaks (Dallas) and Highland Oaks (Plano). We are also cooperating with the Duncanville Church of Christ to plant another Latino church in either Grand Prairie or Oak Cliff in the Greater DFW area.
Un-churched and de-churched people are coming to Christ because of the incarnational, kingdom-focused strategies in these churches. They are planted to be externally-focused—distinctive, growing communities of the kingdom of God.
Numerous partnering churches
are either funding Mission Alive
or one of our church plantings. We are also funded by a number of individuals who believe that the future of Kingdom growth will primarily be through church planting.
Mission Alive's Core Values
- Giftedness: Some Christian leaders are gifted and called to be church planters. Mission Alive seeks God’s guidance to discover and nurture these church planters.
- Missional Planters: God desires that Christian leaders humbly enter into His on-going mission and submit to His will. Church planters will reflect God’s missional nature.
- Missional Churches: Churches planted must be composed of disciples who reflect the nature and purposes of God. Churches planted will reflect God’s missional nature.
- Community: Church planters must nurture God’s people to live in intimate community helping each other through the journey of life. Churches planted will be distinct communities of God on a pilgrimage through life helping each other to continue as Christ's disciples and encouraging others to join them on this journey to heaven.
- Dependence: Church planters must personally relate to God in prayer and meditation. They will take time for spiritual formation.
- Planter Care: Church planters should not work alone but within a network of support, encouragement, and equipping. Mission Alive provides care for church planters.
- Family Ministry: Husbands and wives (and their children) should minister together as a team to strengthen each other and the new church planting. The family will minister together according to their giftedness.
- Missionary Ministry: Church planters in North America should consider themselves missionaries who contextualize the gospel and forms of church to fit changing cultural environments. Church planters will relevantly communicate God’s eternal gospel in ever-changing cultural contexts.
- Responsive to Unbelievers. Evangelism is the lifeblood of the church. All Christians should be equipped to use their gifts to bring their relatives, friends, and acquaintances to Christ. Churches will grow primarily through evangelism rather than by transfer growth.
- Reproducing: Local churches must plant churches, who then plant other churches, thereby developing a church-planting movement. Churches planted will aim toward planting a daughter church in the fourth year of their existence.
- Multi-faceted Learning: Training of church planters is done not only formally (in the theology and strategy labs) but also informally (in apprenticeships and internships) in the context of ministry. Church planters will creatively develop models to formally and informally equip each Christian within their growing fellowships.
Mission Alive's Theological Orientation
Some specific theological orientations of Mission Alive are . . .
- Mission of God (Mission Dei). Mission flows from the character and nature of God. God is calling and sending us (church planters and leaders of partnering churches) to be instruments of his mission. Jesus said to his apostles, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21).
- Kingdom of God. As Christ’s representatives, we give up our own purposes and aims as we strive to align our values with those of the kingdom of God (Matt. 5:20). We can then proclaim with authenticity the good news of the reign of God (Acts 8:12). We then, as messengers of his kingdom, see searchers and unbelievers “open their eyes and turn . . . from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins . . . .” (Acts 26:18). Like Jesus we pray: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).
- Incarnation. God calls us to model the incarnation of Christ. As Christ emptied himself (Phil. 2:3-8) and “dwelt among us” in “flesh” (John 1:14), we must live among the people we serve as we personally and compassionately minister.
. God calls us, messengers of his kingdom who embody his mission, to be transformed into his nature. Only then are we able to nurture Christians and seekers to also walk personally with God as they are transformed into God’s image (2 Cor. 3:18). New Christians are nurtured to become holy as God is holy (1 Pet. 1:15-16) and to love as Christ first loved us (1 John 4:19). This transformation takes place both within the littleness of House Churches (cell groups) and in the bigness of a worshiping, celebratory community.
Mission Alive's Ministry Tasks
The three major tasks of Mission Alive are to recruit and equip church planters, provide church planter support, and partner with churches to plant churches.
- Discover and Equip Church Planters. God has gifted the leaders of Mission Alive with the ability to discover church planting candidates through a wide variety of relationships and cast vision for Christian service. These church planting candidates are evaluated in a Discovery Lab to determine whether they have the gifts and abilities to successfully initiate and nurture a new church; nurtured in a Theology Lab to develop missional understandings, formed by scripture, which guide and shape all practices of ministry; and equipped in a Strategy Lab with practical tools of ministry to develop a contextual working plan to plant a growing, Christ-formed church.
- Provide Church-Planter Care. Church planters should not work alone but within a network of support, encouragement, and equipping. Mission Alive works with partnering churches to support and resource church planters, their families, and the developing church. This support occurs through weekly coaching and mentoring; monthly Planter Forums (meetings of church planters); and an annual Church Planters’ Retreat. A Partnering Team is formed to help advise and guide the church-planting family. A Partnering Team is composed of a coach, spiritual directors, representatives from the Partnering Church and Mission Alive’s Director for Equipping.
- Partner with Churches to Plant Churches. God has gifted leaders of Mission Alive to connect with churches who desire spiritual renewal and creative outreach to their communities. Churches experience amazing spiritual renewal as they participate with Mission Alive in the joys and struggles of planting churches. They rejoice to see first-hand examples of reaching the unchurched and learn to apply patterns of community connection, journeying to Jesus, disciple-making, and leadership development to their own churches. Mission Alive believes that one of the best ways to renew old churches is by participation in church planting