Who We Are
Always Forward is a collaborative effort of the Province, Dioceses, local churches and people of the Anglican Church in North America working together for the planting of new Gospel-centered, sacramental, missional churches throughout North America.
Our team is comprised of church planters and movement leaders from all over the province representing multiple dioceses.
In 2009 at the investiture of Bob Duncan as the first Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, Archbishop Duncan challenged our newly forming province to aggressively pursue the work of church planting by starting 1,000 churches in the first five years of our existence. From this call Anglican 1000, the first provincial church planting initiative, was born to teach the value and importance of church planting and keep it at the forefront of conversation during our seminal years. Through the work of Anglican 1000 and our faithful dioceses, almost 500 new churches were planted in our first half-decade. In 2014, Foley Beach was elected as our second Archbishop to carry the torch of leadership in our Province. At his investiture, Archbishop Beach very clearly called us to press onward with the mission of the church and the call of planting new congregations. His clarion call was, “Forward. Always Forward. Everywhere Forward.” Archbishop Duncan’s challenge was for the starting of something new and unknown, Archbishop Beach’s call is for the carrying on of what was started to continued maturity, effectiveness and fruit. Thus, with a new leader and a new season within the Anglican Church in North America, Anglican 1000 has grown into our new church planting initiative, Always Forward. What began as an initiative focused on inspiration, education and conviction regarding church planting has grown to also include practical strategies, resources and collaborative work in support of a long-term church planting effort.
As Anglicans, we are committed to the missional work of church planting and also to going about that work in a way that carries on our long and valued tradition. As such, we hold deeply to the concept of “collaboration with subsidiarity.” In other words, we believe that the mission of the church should be done at the most local level possible. It is local planters and churches that plant new churches, so all of our collective efforts should be in support of their work. They are the heroes in this endeavor. At the same time, we believe that we can do this work better together than we can alone. Our Dioceses can function to create a healthy environment where local planters are better cared for, equipped and supported as they plant churches. The Province can then help to support the work of the Dioceses through facilitating the collaboration of our common work, catalyzing resources for the cause and leading us forward together as a movement across North America.
The mission of Always Forward, therefore, is threefold:
Equipping a Movement
In his book “Church Planting Movements” David Garrison defines a church planting movement as “a rapid and multiplicative increase of indigenous churches planting churches within a given people group or population segment.” Our hope is to see this kind of rapid multiplication throughout North America.
Strengthening Our Dioceses
The role of the Province is to assist the dioceses in their support of church planters through equipping, catalyzing resources and facilitating collaboration. As Anglicans we believe that our polity system (system of governance and organization) has both the backing of history and continued relevance. Our desire is to see the historic structures of the church empowered for the support of the work of mission in our contemporary setting. In order to see this come to fruition, we have developed a comprehensive strategy to facilitate church planting from the raising up of new planters to the multiplication of new churches.
Supporting Local Planters
The beauty of an interconnected form of church organization is that planters do not have to do this work alone. They can be a part of a larger support network in their dioceses and a part of a greater family within our North American movement. We long to see the proper tools in their hands and loving relationships surrounding them to give them the best possible chance of planting healthy churches in healthy ways.
The vision of Always Forward as a Provincial initiative is to see every Diocese become a church planting network.
A healthy church planting network has four primary components for the support of church planting:
Jesus sent his disciples out in pairs to do the work of mission and later said that the world will know that we are his disciples by how we love one another. Jesus’s methods for ministry were based on relationships and we desire to follow his example. We have no desire for sterile infrastructure, clogging bureaucracy or faceless organization, we want to be partners in ministry sharing prayer, wisdom, support and encouragement as we engage in this movement together.
Developing A Church Planting Playbook
Our team is in the process of developing a guide to help new church planting networks as they form and organize. It is a living document that simply seeks to gather the wisdom gained throughout our Province. It is not a mandated process of planting, it will simply provide a framework for thinking through the core systems needed to effectively support church planters and offer solutions on how to implement those systems. Hopeful first draft date is January 2016.
Online Resource Library
To support the local planter and give dioceses a tool box to use in their work, we are developing a robust online library of articles, tools, coaching, ideas and inspiration. The goal of this library is to collect and curate the wisdom of the planters and leaders throughout our Province and make it available on a broad scale to planters throughout North America and beyond. Our desire is to provide practical help and also to research and codify the theological underpinnings of our church planting movement.
Our team will be organizing a few events of differing scales for the equipping of church planting leaders and to provide environments for learning and shared wisdom. We will also facilitate the collaboration for coaching and consulting amongst our Dioceses.