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ARC Churches: A Model for Modern Church Planting

ARC Churches: A Model for Modern Church Planting

Aaron Burke launched Radiant Church a decade ago in a rundown movie theater in Tampa, Florida. In doing so, he presented a model of Christianity that has gained significant traction among America’s faithful. Radiant Church, known for its high-energy Pentecostal-style services, started with fewer than 200 attendees. It now averages nearly 8,000 across nine locations.

Burke, an ordained pastor in the Pentecostal Assemblies of God, built up his church with more than just faith. He sold a thrift store in Pensacola, Fla., then raised additional funds and received support from the Association of Related Churches (ARC), a network renowned for its church planting model.

The ARC Church Planting Model

The Association of Related Churches functions as a church planting accelerator, providing money and mentoring to new churches and pastors. This innovative approach allows the Association of Related Churches to reinvest in opening new ARC churches, fostering rapid growth. Since the ARC’s inception in 2000, the organization has launched over 1,100 ARC churches in the United States and abroad, including dozens last year alone.

“We need pastors that know how to lead in the church with marketplace principles,” said Burke, who holds an MBA and a doctorate in ministry. His entrepreneurial background includes running a thrift store and buying and selling used vehicles, providing a practical foundation for his church leadership.

Growth and Impact of ARC Churches

The Association of Related Churches’ growth strategy is spearheaded by Dino Rizzo, the network’s executive director. Rizzo emphasizes the need for innovative approaches to evangelism in light of the decline in church membership among Catholic, evangelical, and mainline Protestant denominations in the United States. Gallup polling shows that weekly attendance at religious services has dropped significantly over the past two decades, leading to the closure of thousands of churches annually.

The Association of Related Churches’ model has proven incredibly successful, in many ways mirroring a Silicon Valley venture capitalist approach. By offering financial backing and mentoring, the ARC ensures new churches have the resources and guidance needed to thrive. On launch day, ARC churches attract hundreds of attendees, demonstrating the model’s effectiveness.

Burke and his wife, Katie, transformed a dilapidated movie theater into Radiant Church with the help of volunteers. They created a welcoming space complete with a cafe and children’s area and equipped with a sound system, video equipment, and lighting to enhance the worship experience. Burke’s sermons, known for their humor and relevance to everyday life, attract both devout believers and newcomers.

Behind the Scenes at Radiant Church

On a typical Sunday, Radiant Church welcomes an extremely diverse congregation—many in their 20s and 30s, often with children. Services feature a live band and singers that energize the audience. Burke’s sermons focus on practical themes, such as the pitfalls of selfishness, and are illustrated with vivid, memorable examples.

After each service, Burke and his team critique their own performance, discussing ways to improve music transitions, camera shots for the online audience, and sermon delivery. This commitment to excellence ensures that Radiant Church continues to grow and engage its congregation in the best way possible.

Radiant Church’s growth is notable, as it reflects the successful implementation of the ARC’s church planting model. The church allocates resources to support the Association of Related Churches and other individual church startups, continuously investing in its expansion and operations.

The Future of ARC Churches

The Association of Related Churches’ vision for church planting aligns with contemporary needs, offering a fresh approach to evangelism that resonates with today’s believers. By supporting new ARC churches with financial resources and mentorship, the ARC helps them flourish, ensuring that the message of faith continues to spread effectively.

Dino Rizzo’s leadership has been instrumental in the ARC’s growth, enabling the network to invest significantly in opening new churches. “Church planting is not for the faint of heart,” Rizzo said, emphasizing the dedication required to launch and sustain new congregations.

For more information on ARC churches and their impact on modern church planting, visit the Association of Related Churches’ website and explore how this innovative network is transforming the landscape of American Christianity.

About the Association of Related Churches (ARC):

The Association of Related Churches (ARC) represents a collaborative network comprising independent congregations from various denominations, networks, and backgrounds. Its primary mission is to provide essential support and resources to church planters and pastors, enabling them to effectively share the teachings of Jesus Christ. ARC’s operational approach revolves around empowering and equipping church leaders, thus helping them foster the widespread dissemination of Christ’s life-changing message. Established in 2000, the Association of Related Churches has evolved into a worldwide entity and has played a pivotal role in facilitating the establishment of over 1,000 new churches globally.

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