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A Vision To Plant

A Vision To Plant

John Caudle

Greetings from the ends of the earth. Okay, not the very ends of the earth, but we are in the far western reaches of CANA East. We, the Caudles, are a large zany family, living on a small farmstead often described as “in the middle of nowhere” in Missouri. Our entire blended family consists of 11 children, 8 grandchildren, assorted cows, goats, chickens, cats, and dogs. Four adult children live in Missouri, one in Florida, and one in heaven. With five teenage children still at home, there is never a dull moment.

We have, for decades, been passionate about serving the Lord (even serving as missionaries for 3-1/2 years in Central America), but we haven’t always been Anglican. In fact, you may wonder, what would cause a second-generation ordained Southern Baptist pastor (whose father was a pastor and church planter, now in his 59th year of ministry) to walk the Canterbury Trail. Though we had never been in an Anglican church, Christina and I had grown to so appreciate the BCP that when we married, it was the 1662 Service (with modernized language), albeit in a Baptist church, presided over by a Baptist pastor. And we attended our first Anglican service the next day on our honeymoon.

We were drawn, though, not to just any form of Anglicanism. Rather, we are drawn to the historic Anglicanism found in the BCP (1552, 1662) and the Articles. Therein is faithfulness to the gospel: sola scriptura, sola gratia, sola fide, followed by the teachings that God is sovereign in his merciful grace; these truths we affirmed in our non-Anglican lives, and would be unwilling to surrender.

But we had also come to new understandings, denied or underplayed in our prior church homes, which were affirmed by Anglicanism.

1.God calls for children of believers to be marked as his in baptism, with the consequent responsibility to repent and believe the gospel.

2.God ordained “Psalter prayer book” worship in the scripture. This worship marked the synagogue and the ancient church. Such worship, with the hearts of worshippers engaged, of course, is also the most proper form of worship in the modern world, training believers to pray with Biblical categories and priorities and giving opportunity for the entire congregation to be fully involved in many more aspects of worship. Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi.

3.Anglicanism is catholic. Other groups tend to write confessions delineating to the nth degree what they believe, and splitting to form a new group when there is disagreement on some small matter. While Anglicanism might suffer from the opposite, our historic fathers envisioned a church broad enough to tolerate variations in adiaphora, while holding firmly to the fundamental truths of the Scripture. Individual believers joined to local bodies, are part of one holy, catholic, and apostolic church. We are not alone.

4.Morning and Evening Prayer are desperately needed tools to keep our worship on track.

While it was an extended process to fully move into Anglicanism, it was not a major step to consider church planting. The value of church planting was firmly established in my teen years when Daddy became a church planter. There are many reasons to plant churches, but all are rooted in the fact the chief end of man is to glorify and enjoy God, but there are lots of places where people are not doing anything of the sort. To bring this about (glorifying and enjoying), Jesus called his followers to go preach the gospel to every creature, making disciples, baptizing them, and teaching them to order their lives around obedience to the fulness of his will.

In many communities, there are no healthy churches, holding to the fundamental precepts of “mere Christianity” and reaching out to the lost with the gospel of Christ. In those communities, there is a definite need for a grounded, gospel preaching church.

In other communities, there are faithful churches, but many fail to understand one or more of the four facets of Anglican practice mentioned above. In fact, in many such communities, the only churches that hold to a liturgical worship are, in fact, unfaithful in many other respects, and thus carefully formed services of worship are maligned by the deadness of the congregants or leaders. In such communities, it is also important that a faithful, liturgical church to be planted.

When saints who have stood beside pastors murdered by dictators, who have seen their people decimated by militant Islam, who have faithfully stood “outside the camp” with Christ, calling for God’s people to repent – when they come here and invite us to stand beside them and work together to replant a faithful Anglicanism in this land, we are compelled to commit ourselves to that call of Christ, echoed in their words.

Obviously, the Spirit of God must lead in the matter of when and where churches are to be planted, but anywhere there are pockets of people who are not being reached with a true gospel by a faithful church, the possibility looms large that a new church is needed.

We believe that our county seat town needs an Anglican church plant. The Episcopal church in town appears (from their website and social media) to hold the Episcopal line in the issues that have caused faithful Anglicans to be “not in communion with” the Episcopal Church. Other liturgical churches have led public prayer to Mother God, asking that she forgive us for our bigotry toward homosexuals. Liturgical worship deserves to be faithfully represented. Further, faithful existing churches need to be encouraged to be one in Christ. We hope to encourage other believers to walk together, recognize one another as brothers and sisters, and work together whenever possible in the work which Christ utilizes in building his church and the Kingdom of God.

We intend to offer a location on the town square where believers can gather for prayer together, perhaps once weekly for a broader group, and maybe even daily for those who would welcome the use of morning or evening prayer.

We plan to begin a bilingual prayer ministry to reach the sizable Hispanic population in our community. In the same location, Christianity Explored courses, a study of How Anglicans Worship and Why Do They Worship That Way, and a study of The Thirty-Nine Articles could be offered. From those who come to faith, and those that the Lord causes to share our vision, we would then begin Sunday worship services.

We ask your prayers for us in these areas:

1.That we would clearly perceive the Lord’s guidance as we strategize. We believe that we understand his will, but we covet your prayers that we will not mistake mere impressions for the Lord’s voice.

2.Our family income has been substantially diminished over the past 6 months due to a reduction in the need of my primary client for my services. To devote effort to church planting, we need to have a sufficient income.

Related to these two areas: at this point we are home centered and our home is 20 miles more/less from the county seat. I work from home; we home school; we farm from home; our presence in the county seat is minimal. This would make it very difficult to plant a church there, when we are not there. Our working strategy will address all these issues, permitting us (while continuing to reside where we do) to move our daily presence to the county seat, work there together, continue to home school (but there), and have significant daily interaction with folks in the community. There is risk to the plan, but if successful, it could also be used to provide sufficient income, give us a face in the community, and provide a location on the square from which we can pursue the ministry objectives outlined earlier.

3. Ultimately, we desire your prayers that God will use us to make disciples in our area.

We are exceedingly glad to be part of the CANA East family. It is our hope that the Lord will establish the work of our hands, both for economic provision and, even more so, in building his church in our community.

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