A cluster is a support system. “In a cluster,” says Drew Angus, “everyone wins because it creates a climate and expectation of mission for both the established church and its daughters.”
Angus, U.S. Eastern Regional Leader for Christian Reformed Home Missions, knows firsthand the benefits of clustering.
Over the past 10 years, Spirit and Truth Fellowship, where Angus is a pastor, has planted eight new church plants, a feat that was commemorated at the “Celebration of First Fruits” last year.
A worship team comprised of members of each congregation in the Philadelphia area helped to lead the music; testimonies from church plant leaders abounded.
Robert Whitmire, pastor at Grace and Peace Community Fellowship (GAP), commented, “It was an awesome and powerful time of the Lord.”
Another way in which these churches support each other is through monthly pastoral meetings.
Allen Drew, pastor at Mt. Airy Community Church (MACC), gleans essential encouragement from these meetings.
“It is so important to keep coming back regularly and see what is going on in the broader church planting cluster to remind you how God is moving.”
Most of the churches involved in the Philadelphia Cluster are in multiethnic and low-income neighborhoods; for that reason mercy ministries and community development ministries are very important.
Every summer GAP hosts a low-priced children’s summer camp. Children ranging in age from 7 to 14 spend half their time involved in academic pursuits led by certified teachers and the other half actively engaged in various physical activities, including bike riding, basketball, and adventure camp.
Germantown Hope and MACC hold combined services at alternating locations through the summer months and support each other with financial backing. Every fall another set of church plants attends a joint camping retreat with members of both congregations.
“The best part of clustering is the fellowship; the community that we have. You never feel like you are alone as you are learning what it means to be a shepherd,” said Whitmire.