United States

USA: Developing a benefactor church that makes a global impact

A small church in Ohio is making a significant impact worldwide as it embraces the stewardship God has given them in supporting the global mission of the church.

The Canton CityChurch has been a part of BILD’s CityChurch network in the United States for over 10 years. They are committed to fully participating in the progress of the gospel as a benefactor church and partnering with global church leaders who share that commitment.

Becoming a benefactor church has not happened overnight. It has been a long, intentional process that has united both church leaders and members around New Testament principles and a common understanding of their role in God’s plan for His Church.

When the Canton church was formed, it was three families that shared a conviction around those ideas. The first year before officially becoming a church was an important time as the families went through BILD’s First Principles series to find unity around the ideas. Understanding the unique gifts God has given each believer and using those gifts to build up the church was also an important part in their establishment that first year.

Justin Metz and his wife, Sandra, were one of the first families in the Canton Church, and he said, “If we have a solid understanding of the principles, then we’re able to participate in a capacity that is not limited by the number or size of our church.”

That understanding continues to be just as important today as the church, which now has around 50 people, looks outside itself to support something on a much larger scale. Their relationship with BILD has connected them with international church partners and the opportunity to help fund global projects for training international church leaders and planting churches.

“God’s doing a bigger work through His church,” Justin said, adding that it can be seen in the global work BILD is involved in and the growth of the church in Latin America, China and the global South.

“You see the Church with this massive growth and the need for leaders to be developed, so that it can sustain that level of growth,” he said. The Church must be built up and leaders must be established in a way that is going to solidify and strengthen the church from one generation to the next. He believes this is where Canton’s stewardship is being utilized.

Because the Canton church is a cluster of two house churches, the vast majority of their finances are able to be distributed to needs outside of their church. And being able to participate in something beyond their local church involves everyone. Being a benefactor church engages every believers’ time, spiritual gifts, and finances, and entrusts these elements to its church network and leadership. The church itself operates as one body collectively doing the work of progressing the gospel and meeting local and international needs as they have come to understand their role in the greater global church.

“We didn’t want to become or be this insular sort of group that was disconnected from everything else going on,” Justin said. “For us to be able to have and build an identity focused on being a part of what God’s doing both nationally and internationally has been great for us.”

David Harris, who, with his wife Colleen, was also one of the first families in the Canton church, echoes that sentiment, pointing out that having that mindset would not have been possible without having clear convictions around God’s plan for His Church.

“We probably would not have prioritized supporting the work of planting and establishing churches to the degree we have,” he said, adding that their emerging convictions were reinforced by their relationship with the BILD team and their work in BILD’s leadership development resources.

By adhering to their beliefs, the Canton church is at the forefront of partnering in the global work. “From the beginning we have known that it’s not about us supporting others, but working together,” he said. “I think we are continuing to rediscover what participation in the gospel looks like, often thinking about Paul and the Philippian church.”

In the constant renewing of their understanding of the Church as a global family, David said they have been able to develop relationships with those they support internationally, especially around the idea of sharing in the work of building Christ’s kingdom globally.

“The relationship with global ministry partners has built a connection that promotes prayer and real care for the work that is going on,” he said.

He recently had the opportunity to go to the Dominican Republic and visit with the Latin American Global Resource Team, which the Canton CityChurch supports financially. To be seated with those church leaders and working together toward their goals was an example of what fulfilling the ministry looks like, he said.

“To see the unity that exists and the commitment to sacrificial work that these key leaders are striving for was convincing,” he said.

These tangible outcomes of Canton church’s investment of their resources and time in the global progress of the gospel is a result of what happens when every believer in the church is fully participating in God’s plan.

“Anytime a group is working toward one goal it brings unity and allows everyone to participate in the larger work,” David said. It also allows more opportunities to challenge everyone to fully use their spiritual gifts in order for the church to not only make an impact locally but globally, he said.

Justin said the Canton church is dedicated to building, strengthening, establishing and planting churches locally, and it’s exciting to see the growth and spontaneous expansion of the Church taking place elsewhere and to be a part of that.

“We’re convinced that the Church is God’s plan for this age,” he said, adding that the centrality of the Church is a challenging concept, but one that brings conviction and a changing perspective on how God wants to use His Church to accomplish that plan.

“I think part of it is understanding that the work that God is doing is so much bigger than any one of us, and so much bigger than any one church or church network,” Justin said. “Being in a relationship with BILD helps us get a glimpse into this bigger work that God is doing.”