What’s in a Name? “Church Planting”

Why did we include the words “church planting” in our name?  The terms evoke a rich biblical metaphor that pictures the early stages of the Pauline local church establishing process that also includes watering and God generated growth.  In the fullest sense “church planting” points to the whole developmental process of starting, strengthening, and multiplying local churches as well as large-scale church planting movements.  This blog is the third in our occasional series that explains our name.

Our Lord is in the church planting business.  It’s His idea.  It’s His wise plan.  It’s His work for which He sends laborers into His field.  Evangelism and mission cannot be reduced to merely making converts or providing social relief and development.  Biblical evangelism and mission are primarily matters of planting strong churches and cultivating strong church planting networks.  We created the Antioch School as a practical tool to help local churches and church planting movements reproduce themselves in response to our Lord’s commission.  By including “church planting” in our name, we specified both what we believe to be the essence of the mission as well as what we hope to be the primary outcome of the Antioch School.

The Antioch School is not just an innovative way to do serious biblical studies or to get a credible theological degree.  Nor is it merely a home-grown way to train specialists for the initial stages of starting a church.  The Antioch School is a church-based way to equip both existing and emerging leaders for the work of strengthening a base church and also planting churches from that base.  It’s a tool to cultivate an expanding network of strong churches regionally and globally.  It’s a way to accelerate the large-scale church planning movements that God is using to renew the church in North America and to reach the Global South in our day.

To date, the Antioch School has been adopted by approximately 75% of the large-scale church planting movements in India as their primary tool for upper level leadership training to sustain and expand their movements.  It has similarly been adopted by hundreds of pioneer minded churches in North America in spite of the seeming hegemony of traditional theological schools.  The Antioch School is expanding exponentially and seriously driving the church-based paradigm of training the next generation of church planters in North America and beyond.  That’s why “church planting” is in our name!

What’s in a Name? “School”

Why did we include the word “school” in our name?  It’s a common enough word that enjoys the luxury of being instantly understood by most people.  But it also carries enough cultural baggage to make it a risky choice often requiring substantial qualification.  This blog is the second in our occasional series that explains our name.

Words carry paradigms.  Most of us who have been immersed in the Western education system have thereby come to associate the word “school” with factory-type buildings, large classrooms, seat-time, professors, lectures, note taking, book learning, rote memorization, quizzes, exams, grades, etc.  Some of us like this approach to learning.  Others don’t.  But most of us share this cultural definition of schooling whether we picked it up through our experience in public or private schools at any level.

Our choice to include the word “school” in our name, in spite of its present-day baggage, is both principled and practical.  Even though we view the Western schooling paradigm to be foreign to the biblical paradigm of education, we’re not willing to abandon the word “school” because it still correctly carries the idea of serious ordered learning that’s essential in developing strong church leaders.  Nearly everyone associates the word “school” with high levels of discipline, scholarship, and acumen which we view to be core competencies in those who must master the Scriptures, guard the faith, and establish churches.  These competencies are substantial enough to be worthy of the academic credit and degrees that we grant as an accredited educational institution or “school.”

A biblical purist might suspect that our choice to include the word “school” in our name reveals a not-so-subtle compromise with the prevailing culture.  But we view it to be a solid example of how biblical theology ought to be translated into contemporary culture.  We’ve created a school that avoids the schooling paradigm yet maintains the highest standards of academic discipline, integrity, and ministry competence that is legitimately represented by the degrees that we grant as cultural currency.  That’s what’s in our name.