Seven years ago Tim and Addie Parke became the pastors of New Life Assembly of God (AG), after a group of 43 adults organized the Monticello, Arkansas, church, approved by the Arkansas Assemblies of God District. Monticello has a population of about 9,600.
The congregation at New Life at that time had a core leadership team and a desire to serve the community and advance the gospel, but they were functioning without any formal ministries, systems or vision.
Before coming to New Life, Tim and Addie had served on staff at First Assembly (now Northwest Church) in Bentonville, Ark. There Tim had been introduced to the Acts 2 Journey model with the focus on how to become a healthy church. His pastor, Joe Lyons, led daily discussions with the staff focusing on mission, vision, core values and strategy.
When Tim came to pastor New Life, he had not participated in a formalized Acts 2 Journey, but he began reading the book 360 Disciple and the Acts 2 Church: An Implementation Guide, both authored by Alton Garrison, executive director of Acts 2 Journey.
Within months, Pastor Tim and the leadership team formed the church's vision statement of Serve God, Love People, and Change the World and developed its core values. Pastor Tim branded the vision statement, and introduced it and the core values to the church through series of sermons. The vision statement helped strengthen and move the church to action. The core values became the filter for the church's decisions regarding budget and new ministry development.
For the next two years, Tim taught the Acts 2 ministry model in team leader and deacon board meetings. Banners and graphics communicating how the church would implement its mission, vision and values were displayed in locations throughout the church building. They developed New Life Journey, a condensed version of the Acts 2 model, and distributed the information to every person new to the congregation.
Two years ago the Acts 2 Journey was offered again to churches in the Arkansas District of the Assemblies of God.
"I was so excited and jumped at the chance to take our leadership team through the one-year journey," Tim says. "My primary goal was for them to hear and understand the basis for what they had been hearing from me for so long. They have fully embraced the Acts 2 model and are visualizing with me how New Life is to operate, grow and be strengthened in our mission to the community, city and world."
With the financial and prayer support of the Arkansas District, in 2018 New Life Monticello opened a satellite campus church in Dermott, a rural town of 2,600 that was without an AG presence, and installed Chris Cook, as pastor. Chris had been overseer of the men's ministry and taught Sunday School at New Life. The Dermott congregation, with a pre-COVID attendance of 50, has built many relationships in the community with the school and government, follows the Acts 2 Journey model, and offers most of the ministries that the main campus offers.
"Even during a pandemic, God is faithful," Pastor Tim says. "New Life at Monticello grew from 107 on our first Sunday to 300, pre-COVID. We also recently sold our church building and began construction on a new 15,000 square-foot facility and our vision statement remains in focus: Serve God, Love People, Change the World!"
The year-long Acts 2 Journey effort, led by Alton Garrison, helps strengthen churches as they revisit their mission, vision and values. To date, 1,508 churches in 42 districts and 3 ethnic fellowships have taken the journey, and 1,177 of those have received an AGTrust scholarship to help them participate.
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