Since 2012 our church has been independent, without a denomination or network that could provide assistance and accountability. And when difficulty arose the church was disadvantaged by the lack of trusted external voices. Just as no man is an island, no church is an island meant to exist without the support and refining work of others.
Even now, while we have a number of church “friendships” we have lacked commitment and the resourcing of a church network.
Recognizing this pretty early on in our efforts to replant as Reservoir Church, the elders have always contemplated the eventual affiliation of our church with a larger network. To that end, we have interacted with a few organizations in order to gauge compatibility and unity of mission. As we have spent the last year and a half getting to know the leadership and other churches in Advance, and the same season in prayer for wisdom and discernment, we believe Reservoir should take the important step of affiliating with Advance.
In response to that, we have to first explain why we would be motivated to affiliate and what the benefits are to the local church and then answer why Advance.
While the Lord has been very kind to us, and we have a good structure in place for any eventual difficulty in the church, we know we would greatly benefit from the accountability affiliation would allow. Truth is, pastors need pastors, and by taking this step we are availing the church with spiritual care and challenge.
We also recognize that as a small church there are holes in our abilities when it comes to leadership development and equipping of the Saints for ministry. A network could provide these resources, assisting us and lending expertise where we lack it by training and encouraging both our leaders and members of the congregation.
Beyond care and resourcing, it is multiplied impact that makes affiliation desirable. Where we can only do so much with a limited budget and vision for our ministries, the combined resources of many churches can move more quickly to plant churches and increase the worship of Christ across the globe.
Advance prioritizes planting and strengthening churches. In those areas where we desire help and multiplication Advance seems to flourish. Already in our relationship with churches in the region, we have seen a willingness to coach leaders and serve the church. As we desire to learn more and reform our church DNA into a planting church, Advance brings experience, training, and resources to bear in these efforts. And they have a record of equipping and sending church plants continuing the missional spread of the church.
And perhaps above all is the doctrinal alignment with Advance. While many churches or even networks maintain statements of being reformed and continuationist, Advance has evidenced a thorough pursuit of both. Churches are Jesus-centered, proclaiming the gospel as their great treasure, and they desire to see the Spirit move for the glory of Christ. This has been such an encouragement to our elders and what lends to the feeling of being “home” when we are with Advance church leaders.
Partner churches commit 3% of their budgets to Advance, so there is a financial commitment. If we determine as a church to affiliate we can expect that our weekly experience of being the church together won’t change all that much. We may, however, notice the benefit of equipping of our leaders, increased opportunities to interact with those seasoned in ministry (as through workshops and visiting preachers). And we will surely realize the shared mission of strengthening and planting churches in our efforts in San Diego and beyond.
How then will we go about affiliating with Advance? Over the next several months we will endeavor to highlight the work of Advance and give you the opportunity to learn and ask questions along the way. We want to facilitate more than an acquaintance with the network but the experience of what it means to partner with other churches for the glory of Christ. Then during our budget meeting in November or December, we will ask the members to affirm affiliation.
To review to 2018 Annual Review from Advance visit here.
The Lord is working to bring his church into new territory with new partners for his glory. It is a fun time to experience his work!