“Obedience always precedes understanding.”
The Rt. Rev. Dr. Todd Hunter, bishop with special mission in the Anglican Church in North America, shared lessons from Anglican church planters in the field during his plenary address on June 6 in Ridgecrest, N.C. Hunter is the founding director of Churches for the Sake of Others, a West Coast church planting initiative. He emphasized the importance of learning from those who are planting Anglican churches in North America.
Hunter’s address drew most of its inspiration from interviews he conducted with Anglican church planters in six different locations across North America. “There was one lesson that emerged from these interviews. When it comes to the project of Jesus, obedience always precedes understanding,” he said.
He emphasized the need to approach ministry as a learner. “I am an apprentice of Jesus. And if there is one thing we know about apprentices, it’s that they don’t know anything,” he said. He proposes embracing our identity as learners as we plant churches and “engineer[ing] church from the mission field backwards.” According to Hunter, this means that, “There is no formula for church planting. Church planting is not rocket science. It is rocket art.” In order to embrace church planting as an art, Hunter warned the Assembly to not “fall in love with your strategies and tactics,” but to “ruthlessly evaluate everything you are doing.”
Hunter encouraged attendees of Assembly to tell the Christian story with their lives. “It is how God uses your actual life that matters. Today, most seekers are observing their way into the faith…Take your actual life as it presently exists and place it before God,” he said. “We can’t reduce our story to ‘you go to heaven when you die’ and expect discipleship in this life. We have to lay down our life and become apprentices of Jesus.” Hunter concluded his address with an admonition to remain connected to the Body of Christ, while preserving your unique identity in the Body. “Unity in mission is being fully differentiated and fully connected,” he said.
Bishop Hunter is the founding pastor of Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Costa Mesa, Calif. He is the author of Christianity Beyond Belief, Giving Church A Second Chance, The Outsider Interviews, The Accidental Anglican and a new book on temptation titled Our Favorite Sins. Bishop Hunter also founded Three is Enough, a small group movement that enables spiritual formation in everyday life. He is an adjunct professor of evangelism and contemporary culture at George Fox University, Fuller Seminary, Western Seminary, Vanguard University and Wheaton College. He is past President of Alpha USA and former National Director for the Association of Vineyard Churches.