The Great Commission is the responsibility of the local church. In order for the local church to be faithfully and effectively engaged in mission, she must be led by godly pastors who are faithful to the pattern and standard of the New Testament. Pastors lead from the reality of being personally reconciled to Christ and equipped to lead Christ’s Church. Pastors lead in the power of the Holy Spirit by placing the gospel at the center of the church’s teaching, prayer, worship, community, and mission. The pastoral role is to be filled by men who meet the Scriptures standard for leadership. Men who are affirmed and sent, and who serve as skilled master builders laying a firm foundation of Jesus Christ and the whole counsel of His word. These pastors are those who are kingdom minded and who love the local church, who are filled with and rely on the Holy Spirit. They get their hands dirty in guiding the doctrine and practice of the church. We believe that pastors are called to lead the church to practice regenerate church membership and church discipline and also embrace the biblical distinctions of gender roles. They shepherd a church ready to bring transformation to its own community, its region, and to the nations. Pastors equip the saints for the work of the ministry ; training, sending, and multiplying disciples and churches locally and to the ends of the earth.
The Great Commission is a call to make disciples, and therefore it is a call to plant churches. New Testament mission and discipleship consisted of reaching individuals, baptizing them, and teaching them to observe all that Jesus commanded, all happening in the context of a covenant community. These covenant communities—local churches—are the engines of mission Jesus established to perpetuate the global Christian movement. We believe that a healthy church conforms its teaching and practice to that of Scripture, God’s inspired Word. It devotes itself to the teaching of the Word, gathered prayer, community fellowship, and evangelistic mission. The church glories in the sovereignty of God over human salvation, applies the baptistic theology of the New Covenant, and is eager for the supernatural working of the Holy Spirit. Healthy churches come in all sizes and cultures and meet in many different kinds of places. However, we believe that a healthy church is one that seeks to build a community from all cultures where Christ is King, displaying in its midst that the Gospel is for all peoples.
The knowledge of the glory of God will cover the earth as the water covers the sea. This is the purpose of the Great Commission. Jesus has purchased for himself a multitude from every tribe, tongue, and nation, and has given his church the Spirit to accomplish this task. The local church must rise to this challenge until North America is saturated with healthy churches and every global unreached people group has its own healthy, indigenous communities where Christ is King. We must prioritize the unreached, the unengaged, and the strategic. We must extend words of truth, deeds of mercy, and lives of holy sacrifice. We must cooperate with other like-minded churches and we must embrace the high cost of suffering that reaching the nations will require. We must be devoted to prayer and fasting to ignite and sustain the Spirit-led advance of Christ’s church. The glory of God and its display among all peoples must be our chief motivation, the gospel our message, the local church our means. Through healthy churches planting healthy churches we believe we will reap a global harvest.
The Immanuel Network is a mission cooperative. That means we are not simply another missions or church planting organization. Rather, we are pastors, missionaries, and church planters who have been shaped by the ministry of Immanuel Baptist Church. We desire a deep level of theological and missiological like-minded support in the difficult task of church planting and cultivating health among existing churches. As a network, we relate to missions and church planting organizations in a complementary partnership, eager to support their commitment to the Great Commission and seeking to provide ongoing leadership development, training bold men and women with gospel DNA and a heart for the hardest places. Because unity results in effectiveness we want to serve like-minded global and local leaders through providing a network of qualified, trustworthy mission partners, and through raising up, preparing, resourcing, and coaching the next generation of church planters and leaders. The Immanuel Network is based out of and facilitated through Immanuel Baptist Church in Louisville, KY, and currently active in seven of eight major world regions in 15 countries.
The primary motivation and goal of mission is the global display of God’s glory. A God-centered approach to the task of global evangelization means exulting in the biblical certainty that the knowledge of the glory of God will cover all the earth as the waters cover the sea. It also means letting this certainty propel us into the darkest places of lost humanity because the Lamb who was slain is worthy to receive worship from every tribe and tongue and nation. Only a passion for God’s glory will sustain the long-term and often difficult task of church planting and global mission. This passion overflows in powerful Christlike love and compassion for the lost, in faithful plodding, and in prayer that cries “Your kingdom come!”
Mission is the task of the local church. Para-church organizations will continue to play a vital part with their specialized and unique roles, but the primary responsibility of completing the task belongs to the local church – every single member. We aim to see the local church held in high regard and in turn to take seriously her responsibility as a leadership seedbed for the Great Commission. Local church leaders and members should be equipped for faithful evangelism that results in church planting. This should be guided by trustworthy leaders who train faithful men who will then in turn train others also. We believe in the autonomy of local churches but we also see in the New Testament the principle of “Inside Leadership and Outside Help,” that is, the establishment of elder-led autonomous churches as facilitated by gifted evangelists and leaders from other churches. These leaders, like a Paul or Apollos, lay a strong foundation for the newborn church, exerting influence while elders are being raised up from
Mission flows from our theological convictions. It is the truth that sets us, our cities, and the nations free. Downplaying the importance of theology, God’s truth, does nothing to equip the church for church planting or global mission. We are theologically anchored, meaning that we aim to equip the churches we plant through the teaching of the whole counsel of God, thereby equipping them to be theologically sound, humble proclaimers of the truth in love. We are evangelical, meaning that our doctrinal statement proclaims a robust theology that is historical and orthodox, rooted in God’s inspired, inerrant, and authoritative word. We embrace the absolute centrality of the good news: the message of a holy creator God and a sinful mankind justly under his wrath, justified only by faith in Jesus Christ, the one who accomplished salvation through his incarnation, sinless life, substitutionary death, resurrection, and ascension. We are baptistic, meaning that we believe the Scriptures teach the immersion in water of professing believers only, who together constitute God’s redeemed community, the church. Through baptism, the new believer is identifying with the local body of believers. We believe God is sovereign over salvation, as taught in the Scriptures. This truth guarantees and empowers effective evangelism and church planting in the hardest places. We are complementarian, meaning that we embrace the radical equality between men and women in Christ and the harmony of diverse God-given roles and male servant-leadership within the church and family. We are continuationist, meaning that we rejoice in the unique and foundational work of the Spirit in the early Church and we believe that both miraculous and more natural gifts continue today. Because of this we want to cultivate a discerning openness to all the gifts that the Spirit gives to the Church, longing to see God’s spiritual gifts operative among us, governed by Scripture and love, and longing for a greater fullness of the Spirit’s presence and work among us.
Methodology is lived out. New Testament proclamation was always accompanied by attestation – lives, suffering, methods, and miracles that demonstrated the truth of the gospel. We recognize a healthy spectrum of giftings and faithful methods, but also recognize the existence of methodological lines which, if crossed, compromise the integrity of the gospel message. We believe that Scripture should inform and critique methodology and that even seemingly different methods, if biblical, will be vindicated by wisdom and fruit. Methods should embrace both boldness and wisdom, and not shirk back from the often present suffering and even persecution that accompanies successful New Testament ministry. Ultimately, we believe that on the last day, the most effective methods will be those that have been most faithful to Scripture. Therefore we reject shortsighted methods that emphasize immediate results over faithfulness to Scripture. We seek to encourage wise and biblical contextualization, where the gospel, not culture or method, is the only stumbling block. However, this contextualization should never become mutant, prioritizing culture over gospel. We reject both the colonial elevation of Western culture over the gospel and the contemporary Insider Movement elevation of indigenous religio-culture over the gospel. Instead, we espouse the primacy of the gospel and its power to engage, transform, reject, and honor aspect
We embrace strategic priorities, seeking to be Jesus’s witnesses in our cities, our nations, and to the ends of the earth. We will aggressively pursue planting likeminded churches in our city and region, while embracing broader North America church planting and church strengthening as a vital and strategic part of gospel renewal in our country and potential impact on our continent and around the world. Internationally, we aim to prioritize major cities as a strategy for creating gospel beachheads in unreached and forgotten areas, leading to the evangelization of the surrounding countryside, as exemplified in the biblical account of Paul in Ephesus and as borne out through church history. We are shaped by a Romans 15:20 passion to proclaim Christ where he is not named, therefore our international church planting efforts must always prioritize the remaining unreached and unengaged people groups of the world. The giants of Islam and the other false religions will fall before the power of the gospel, and they will fall when the global Church fully embraces the task of church planting among these groups.
SPIRIT-LED AND INTENTIONAL
In line with our belief that the book of Acts represents a faithful model for church planting and leadership today, we pursue an intentional, Spirit-led, open-to-interruption strategy. We intentionally seek to plant churches in North America, and among the world’s unreached people groups. But in these emphases we will continue to seek the active guidance of the Spirit through prayer and fasting.
In leading Immanuel Network strategy, Network leadership will seek to proactively identify planters and opportunities. We will seek to affirm the specific city or people group callings that the Holy Spirit has already given to individuals, but also aim to actively guide church planters toward our strategic priorities. Network leadership will research, identify, and mobilize annually for church plants and cultivation works in North America, as well as church plants among international unreached people groups. Through assessment, training, and relationship we desire to skillfully match men and women to strategic cities and unreached peoples such that God-given giftings result in new churches. The Network has a five year goal of seeing twenty two Church plants and cultivation works established in North America, as well as fifteen churches started internationally during the years of 2016-2021.
MAN OVER MODEL
We seek to plant churches that are faithful to Scripture and their context; these could be missional house churches or contemporary church plants with a core team, funding established, and a launch date. We will prioritize the faithfulness of a man instead of a specific planting model and will equip men to understand the faithful spectrum of New Testament church models. Every believer is to be on mission, but churches are to be led by qualified men.
We will protect our financial resources for church planting and support church plants as they align with our strategic priorities. As we’ve prayed and sought to make the most impact with the gifts and position God has given us, these strategic priorities have emerged. We are passionate about all gospel ministry, but most funds will be committed according to the following emphases.
MISSION AND CHURCH PLANTING ORGANIZATIONS CAN PROVIDE MUCH NEEDED RESOURCES, SPECIALIZATION, AND LOGISTICAL SUPPORT. WE CAN PROVIDE TRUSTWORTHY PERSONNEL BACKED BY HEALTHY, ENGAGED CHURCHES. THIS PARTNERSHIP CAN ACCOMPLISH MUCH FOR THE KINGDOM. THE NETWORK ALSO HAS PARTNERS WHO ARE SENT THROUGH OTHER LIKE-MINDED ORGANIZATIONS
WE CURRENTLY PARTNER WITH THE FOLLOWING ORGANIZATIONS: