Phil Pringle shares the keys to effective church planting in keeping with the Great Commission.
|CN PHOTO: Desmond Tan|
Phil Pringle, senior minister of Christian City Church in Oxford Falls, Sydney, returned to City Harvest Church last weekend to preach a message of deliverance from Psalm 27. “There’s no affliction that the Lord will not deliver us from,” said Pringle. “He always has a solution even before a problem happens.”
C3 is anchored in Australia but has congregations around the world from Africa to The Netherlands to Atlanta, U.S.A.
City News caught up with him for a chat about the C3 Movement.
What is distinctive about C3 as a church planting movement?
The C3 movement started in 1980 when it was not common for churches to be modern, current and relevant to our world. Taking advantage of every modern facility has always been a pursuit of ours.
However, equally distinctive is our pursuit of the various expressions of the Holy Spirit as I believe we must and can be Spirit-filled without looking or being weird as the apostle Paul exhorted the church in Corinthians.
Relationship rates high as well. Instead of feeling being part of an organization, there’s a sense of being part of a family in our movement. The C3 movement is about being a contemporary, soul-winning and disciple-making church that brings hope, faith and love to the world.
What else do you feel is a core attribute of C3 members?
Faith, hope and love are the three core values that we aim to see come alive in our members when they attend our church; that they will become receivers and givers of faith, hope, and love.
The C3 movement presently has 250 churches worldwide with a 2020 vision to reach a total of 1,000 churches. What do you feel is critical in achieving this vision in the next 10 years?
In the next 10 years, we are primarily focusing on the younger generation. It is critical that they can carry on what the movement has been doing into the next era.
We are looking to identify and train 750 pastors, 750 worship leaders, 750 administrators, 750 team players involving children, youth, men and existing ministries. This will partly be achieved with our online C3 college and existing Bible college in Sydney.
In our C3 churches, we have also initiated apprenticeships between older and younger men where they (younger men) can learn how to do church as apprentices. To us, discipleship is the bottomline. Most of the C3 churches planted have been started by people in their 20s and 30s.
And how do you ensure that the movement maintains its distinctiveness as it expands?
Our global movement is divided into nine regions that are respectively pastored by nine directors. We talk regularly, once a week, or at least once a month. We also organize 14 conferences worldwide to gather leaders and members together to impart the C3 vision and values of what we are all about. Though it doesn’t guarantee that things will work the way we hope it would, generally these are what we do to maintain our distinctiveness.
What do you feel are the greatest challenges facing the local C3 churches and the larger network? How are these overcome?
Our greatest challenge is apathy, because as churches get bigger, people get more comfortable. It is a known fact that the fastest growth spurt for a church is when it reaches the region of 150 to 250 people. Therefore, keeping that growth momentum is important. And one of the main growth impediments is when pastors do not delegate their responsibilities upon reaching the 250 mark.
There are several common reasons for this. Pastors may not like delegating their responsibilities as they like what they’re doing or don’t trust and believe in people, or are not prepared to train others because they desire to be the only minister in the church rather than allow others to rise up. Delegation becomes a major sticking point.
In my opinion, small-minded leadership is keeping today’s churches small. The average size of a church today is 70 people when it’s supposed to be 700. There’s a need for bigger-minded leaders with a greater capacity to take the Church into the future.
In our movement, we invite our leaders to our big churches. For instance, one of the requirements for the students on our online C3 college is to be attached with our church for one month. Now, they’re confronted with a budget of a million dollars for a year instead of a budget of a thousand dollars. This helps them to be exposed and develop a mindset of how a big church thinks. So when they go out and start a church, their mind has already been expanded.
“Connection” or being connected (relationship) is one of the core DNA strands running through C3 Global, affecting the individual church member. How is this done and why is it so important?
The base line of being connected in C3 is our connect groups or what you call cell groups at CHC. Generally, our groups are zoned according to these priorities: relationships, age, commonality and geography. We also have homogenous groups such as business people, junior high students, university students and adults. Every C3 church will have these two main types of groups spread out that help in building enriching relationships.
Then in the movement, we have cluster groups that are zoned according to levels that refer to the size of the church they belong to. For instance, we group our people from 100 to 200-sized, 200 to 500-sized and above 1,000-sized churches when we gather for our conferences. And we speak to them accordingly in empowering them to go up to the next level.
A C3 church is about to be unveiled in Hong Kong. What are your thoughts about this new addition to the C3 Global family?
This will be a great church that is starting from nothing with a group that consist primarily of university students and business people. What excites me about this new addition is the potential of touching China.
Asia is becoming a new area for us but also the fastest-growing with the African region. There’s no doubt there’s a move of God in Asia and we are merely attempting to ride that wave. We feel that our C3 churches fit nicely with the progressive nations in Asia.
Dr. Phil, you are such a good friend of CHC. Can you tell us a story about your friendship with Pastor Kong and Sun that few people know?
I first met them at one of our conferences in Sydney. And they were actually on their honeymoon. That really impressed me. Subsequently, they invited me to speak at a CHC event. This was held in a huge warehouse that could possibly sit 10,000.
But at that event, there were at most 200 people. There and then, I was impressed with Kong Hee’s big vision. But more than that, we feel that we share this divine or God connection. Since our first meeting, we have become committed friends who would do anything for each other.