Knox Graduate starts RENEW South Florida and Partners with Knox Theological Seminary
Knox Theological Seminary is pleased to announce a strategic partnership with RENEW South Florida. RENEW South Florida is a network of churches and ministry partners committed to establishing and rejuvenating gospel-centered churches throughout Metropolitan Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. RENEW South Florida accomplishes this mission by bringing churches together to work and partner with one another in order to identify, raise up, and train emerging leaders to plant, re-plant and revitalize churches in different communities within South Florida.
Pastor Rick Hunter, who received his MDiv from Knox Seminary in 2000, is the Executive Director of RENEW South Florida, as well as the organizing pastor of CityChurch, a PCA church plant in downtown Fort Lauderdale. The education that Rick received at Knox Seminary was integral to the work of RENEW South Florida. “God began to give me a real passion, and the beginning of a vision for church planting, when I was a student at Knox. All of my studies – the theology, the church history, the story of redemption and reconciliation in the Old and New Testaments – all of it began to come together to coalesce and push me outside the walls of the existing church.”
Presence at Knox
As part of its commitment to working with Knox Seminary, RENEW South Florida has relocated its offices and network meeting spaces to the Knox building. Jonathan Smith, Knox’s Dean of Distance Education and also a Knox graduate (MACCS, 2010) played a key role in recruiting Rick to work with Knox. According to Jonathan “The strategic partnership between Knox Seminary and RENEW South Florida will provide pastoral internship opportunities for our students that will give them practical church-planting experience, while also helping RENEW South Florida identify qualified church planters and place them in the churches where they are needed most.”
Getting practical experience while in Seminary
In partnership with Knox, RENEW will assist in developing leaders who are passionate about the gospel, and driven to integrate their education with the mission of God. According to Rick “The best way to get the most out of your seminary experience is to combine the classroom with the church… and there is no better place to get involved in the whole breadth and scope of ministry, than there is in a church plant.”
Why church planting?
The best reason to be passionate about church planting is because it’s the best way to do evangelism – new churches best reach the unchurched. Numerous studies confirm that the average new church gains most of its new members from among people outside another church, while older churches (those over 20 years old) gain most of their new members from people transferring from another church.
And while church planting is effective, it’s also the biblical model for evangelism. Jesus’ Great Commission in Matthew 28 isn’t just a call to share the faith (evangelism) but also to baptize (discipleship). In addition, Paul’s strategy was to plant churches. Paul went to the largest cities and planted churches. In his writings, we can see that Paul had two assumptions with regards to starting new churches: 1) that the way to most permanently influence a country was through its chief cities, and 2) the way to most permanently influence a city was to plant churches in it.
Knox strategically located in South Florida
One of the distinctives of Knox is its location in South Florida – the fourth largest urbanized area in the US. Miami is one of the world’s most important financial centers with Brickell Avenue home to the largest concentration of international banks in the US. South Florida is host to Art Basel Miami Beach – an international contemporary art exhibition known as the “Olympics of the Art World.” South Florida is also home to the corporate headquarters of Univision, Telemundo, Ryder, Arquitectonica, Burger King, Benihana, AutoNation, Citrix, DHL, Spirit Airlines, and many more. God is in the process of bringing the world to South Florida, and Knox Seminary and RENEW South Florida have the opportunity to be a part of its spiritual formation.
Knox Seminary and RENEW South Florida are blessed that the Lord has providentially brought together these organizations as part of His plan to bring the gospel to the nations. It is our hope that placing both of these organizations together in the diverse, international environment that is South Florida will result in the planting of many gospel-centered churches throughout the region of Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade counties.