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The Right Way To Split a Church

BY HOWARD L. CUMMINGS

"Pastor, this is the right way to split a church," one of our deacons said through tears of joy.

We had just finished a commissioning service where we had prayerfully released some 80 adults and children from our church to start a new church in one of America’s fastest-growing areas. Our board appointed Senior Associate Cassell as the new pastor of this fledgling congregation.

My instructions to the group that evening were: "You will always be a part of this church family, and we expect to always be a part of you. Now you are joining hands with us in birthing a new congregation in Parker, Colorado. We will work together. We will establish another great missionary church, and the kingdom of God will be richer."

WHAT PROCESS DID WE FOLLOW?

Parker Christian Center began as the result of our burden to properly establish a self-supporting work in the area 25 miles southeast of Denver/Aurora, Colorado. As part of our Decade of Harvest goals, we planned to help sponsor at least two new works during the decade. This was one of them.

We called for at least 50 members from our church—preferably those who lived in the general area of Parker—to make at least a 2-year commitment to the new church. Our board announced the plans in our annual business meeting.

In the fall of 1995, Pastor Cassell started the Parker Class, which met each Sunday for almost 5 months during our Sunday school hour. The members of the new work listened to the new pastor’s vision as they began to lock-in to the work being established in Parker.

Then in April 1996, the work began, fully endorsed by the Rocky Mountain District of the Assemblies of God. Our church, Aurora First Assembly of God, guaranteed the new pastor’s salary, as needed, for up to 18 months and assisted with start-up costs.

We set up an advisory board for the new work comprised of myself, three deacons from our church, the pastor and three representatives from the new work, and the Rocky Mountain District assistant superintendent.

HOW IS THE NEW CHURCH DOING?

Parker Christian Center had 144 in attendance on their inaugural Sunday in April 1996. In the first 6 months average attendance was 106, and average offerings were $4,000. Pastor Cassell reports that current average attendance has doubled, and over 250 people call Parker Christian Center their church home. Finances have continued to increase along with the steady church growth.

During their first missions convention, Parker Christian Center committed $92,000 in faith promises. The church applied for and received sovereignty status with the Rocky Mountain District Council and The General Council of the Assemblies of God 9 months after it started holding services—January 12, 1997.

HOW HAS THE NEW CHURCH IMPACTED THE MOTHER CHURCH?

Although we commissioned over 80 people and some $130,000 in finances to the new work, we stand upon God’s promise in Luke 6:38: "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

We believe God will provide the replacements for all those who started the new church. Over 10 new families have stepped forward to say, "Count on us. We’ll help take the place of the families who left to start the new church."

God honors His Word and is blessing Aurora First Assembly. At present there is a real spirit of revival in our church. During the last year, decisions have been made for Christ in our church services.


Howard Cummings is senior pastor of Aurora First Assembly of God, Aurora, Colorado.