- Church-Based Networks
Who We Are
Antioch Network is an organization which serves a growing fellowship of local churches who are interacting with the challenge of sending church planting teams to unreached peoples.
On March 16, 1987, leaders from seven churches in different parts of the US came together for a day at Hope Chapel in Austin, Texas. Our purpose was to explore a vision that was living within us—that each of our churches would develop and send a church planting team to an unreached people. Throughout the day we shared our experiences, prayed for each other and learned from one another. When the day was over, we knew we wanted to meet again in six months’ time. We were unaware of it, but Antioch Network had just been born.
We found that we represented a variety of Christian traditions. Some came from denominational congregations and others from independent churches. Some were rooted in one theological stream and some in another. But that day our common ground was not defined by these issues. We were beginning to discover a whole new set of convictions which seem to be true of churches who are drawn to the vision of starting new churches among unreached peoples. And as more churches have continued to join the Network, we continued to discover that these values have been formed in our collective ethos by the Holy Spirit.
Worshippers of the Lamb among all peoples. The 18th century Moravians, a community of around 600 Christians in Central Europe, matured into the most significant Protestant missionary movement of their time. They were propelled forward by the watchword "The Lamb must receive the reward of His suffering." Antioch Network is driven by a passion that worshippers be won for the Lamb from all peoples and gathered into spiritually vibrant, culturally relevant, reproducing church communities.
A high view of the local church. The Scriptures describe the church as "the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way" (Eph. 1:23), and "through the church the manifold wisdom of God should be made known" (Eph 3:10). This is exalted language. Churches are endowed with awesome potential and capacity, poised to be developed and released. Not long after the resurrection of Christ, local churches became bases from which church planting teams were released into unevangelized cultures (the Gentiles). The foundational instruments of Kingdom expansion within a culture are spiritually vibrant, culturally relevant churches rooted in and ministering throughout that culture.
Every believer is a gifted minister. Starting churches among unreached peoples is a complex process. It calls forth the spiritual gifts, vocational expertise and life experiences with which God has graced each believer. The task is far too great to be viewed as the exclusive domain of a select group of religious professionals. Every believer is invited to join with the Father in fulfilling His mission on earth and is graced with potential to play a significant role.
Effective mission is rooted out of community. Community is the environment of extended family. It is committed relationships, developed over time, in the midst of real life, providing nurture, support, accountability, and staying power for the long haul. Most believers will not leave home and move somewhere else to participate in missions. It is not their Father's calling for them to do so. If their unique contribution is to be made, it will take place right where they live in the context of their church. Churches are graced by God with the capacity to mature into centers of ministry and church planting.
Commitment to the nurture of people. The most fundamental image God uses to identify Himself in Scripture is that of a Father. His mission on earth can be described as Him forming a family for Himself from among all peoples. It is therefore unthinkable that He approaches world evangelization in ways which are casual about the long-term physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the people involved in them. God's purposes are not advanced when His servants suffer neglect. The gospel is most effectively preached among all peoples by those who do so out of fullness—out of hearts overflowing with worship, thanksgiving and joy.
Godly character. God always seems to take longer to do His work than we would expect. The central reason for this is His commitment to Godly character. We tend to more easily recognize gifting and ability, and take action based on them. But when gifting is not built on the foundation of character it will collapse, and the development of character continues over a lifetime. Man is looking for better methods, programs, plans and schedules. God is looking for better people. The greatest need in missions is not more activity (although more activity is certainly called for), but more men and women of God.
Prayer. The missionary movement which grew out from the Moravian community was fueled by a 24-hour prayer chain which endured 100 years. Unreached peoples are shielded from the gospel by entrenched and powerful spiritual forces hostile to Christ and His church. The call to church planting among unreached peoples is a call to intense spiritual warfare. At the heart of victories in spiritual warfare are the faithful, believing prayers of the church.
Churches working together. A church is a family, and healthy families find no need to compete. They enjoy and enrich each other. Individual churches, like individual believers, are gifted of God with specific areas of strength. When churches invest in relationships of love and trust among themselves, these strengths can be shared for the benefit of all. This fosters a giving and receiving among churches which is pleasing to the Father and yields increased capacity for Kingdom advance.
From "A Manifesto" by George Miley, President of Antioch Network.
Visit the Antioch<> Network web site.