Why Beltsville Church is a
Multisite Church- Part 1
January 31, 2018 by Tim Madding
As Beltsville Seventh-day Adventist Church is actively becomes a multisite church, now with two campuses, people often ask me why. Why plant a new site? Why send people away? Why not just plant a church? With so few people even planting churches, why go mutlisite? All great questions I hope to answer over the next few weeks.
This is why Beltsville Church is a multisite church.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
Once a local church reaches a state of health and maximal ministry capacity, a multisite or church planting solution is the natural progression of fulfilling the gospel commission in the multiplication of disciples. Beltsville Seventh-day Adventist Church (Beltsville Church), in cooperation with the Potomac Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, is committed to a God-given vision of multiplication and chooses to strategically plant additional missional sites or churches in communities or among people groups of 20,000 or more in the greater DC area. This is God’s ordained method of reaching others with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
"We all need to be wide awake, that, as the way opens, we may advance the work in the large cities. We are far behind in following the instruction to enter these cities and erect memorials for God." Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, September 30, 1902.
“The vigorous, continual planting of new congregations is the single most crucial strategy for 1) the numerical growth of the Body of Christ in any city, and 2) the continual corporate renewal and revival of the existing churches in a city. Nothing else--not crusades, outreach programs, para-church ministries, growing mega-churches, congregational consulting, nor church renewal processes--will have the consistent impact of dynamic, extensive church planting.
“Virtually all the great evangelistic challenges of the New Testament are basically calls to plant churches, not simply to share the faith. The 'Great Commission' (Matt. 28:18-20) is not just a call to 'make disciples' but to 'baptize'. In Acts and elsewhere, it is clear that baptism means incorporation into a worshipping community with accountability and boundaries (cf. Acts 2:41-47). The only way to be truly sure you are increasing the number of Christians in a town is to increase the number of churches.” (Tim Keller, Why Plant Churches).
From its infancy, the Seventh-day Adventist Church grew as a movement focused on church planting. As the local congregations grew, they sent out new believers into new areas to raise up new churches, expanding the church through the Northeast, North America and ultimately across the globe.
“The work of church planting, in fact, was so central to Adventist life that General Conference President A. G. Daniells urged conference presidents to occasionally drop out of office and spend a year raising up new churches! Spontaneous explosion resulted. The effect was astonishing. Adventism grew so rapidly in North America that we were the envy of the Christian world. Every denomination said they wanted to reach the lost. Adventists not only said it, but we structured to make it happen.” Ron Gladden, Ministry Magazine, 1999.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church saw itself as one church- not separate congregational churches. In time, church structure (such as the unions and conferences) were introduced to help facilitate the church’s missional movement of multiplication. Resources, training, leadership and staffing were provided to facilitate the local church’s ever expanding growth.
“We should seek in every place to raise up a company of believers who will unite with us in uplifting the standard of truth, and working for rich and poor. Then as churches are established, there will be an increase of helpers to labor for the destitute and the outcast.” Ellen White, Manuscript 3, 1899 (Gospel Workers, 436).
Beltsville Church seeks to reclaim this missional movement of multiplication through church planting by adopting a multisite approach- one church in multiple locations.
In response to Beltsville Church’s growth over the past few years and after spending great lengths of time in prayer, study and reflection, Beltsville Church feels called of God to begin this process of multiplication by expanding its missional influence using a multisite model of church planting in the Greater DC area.