advance movement logo


The Gospel is the Centre. The Gospel refers to the “metanarrative” of the whole Bible – which spans creation, the fall, redemption and ultimately, restoration. Jesus is the One who holds this narrative together. Who He is and what He has done is the nucleus of Scripture. This is why the Gospel should enjoy unrivalled centrality in the life of every church and believer.

The Gospel gives me both new life in a moment and a new lifestyle over time. It is both the diving board of faith, as well as the water in which the church swims.

The Gospel declares that salvation is the work of God. The Father set His love upon us before creation. The Son’s life, death and resurrection achieved our salvation. The Spirit effects God’s saving work by giving us new birth and faith. He assures of us our eternal security as a child of God, and empowers a changed life. In summary, God saves from first to last. This excludes boasting on our part and magnifies His sovereign grace, while not at all negating the key role we play in receiving and working out our salvation.

Applying this, we seek to be God-centred and grace-saturated. We believe that emphasising and resting upon the sovereign grace of God is the secret to the church’s holiness, humility, happiness and hard work.

The Bible describes individual Christians as temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19) and the Church as being a house in which God lives by his Spirit (Eph 2:22). Therefore, we acknowledge the vital role of the Holy Spirit today, believing local churches should be in eager and intelligent pursuit of the presence, power, fruit and gifts of God’s Spirit as mentioned in the Bible for the benefit of both believers and enquirers.

We believe that the local church is intended by God to be active in winning the lost to Christ, and an outward-looking mission agency that positively impacts society (Matt 28:19-29, Acts 1:8). To this end, we encourage each other to lifestyles of personal mission. We also aim to equip believers to be salt and light in all sectors of society. This will include attention to social justice, and other city-serving initiatives.

We encourage local churches to pursue a diversity of cultures, languages and age groups. We believe diversity better displays the glory of God and His Gospel than homogeneity does. Jesus crossed cultures to come and save us, and His Cross has broken down hostility not only between Man and God, but also between races, making us “one new man” in Christ (Eph 2:13-19). This will be on display in eternity and we want to put it on display right now: “By your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev 5:9).

The apostles, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, adopted the term elders from the government of Israel and used it to designate the group of men who governed a local church. Although the apostles led the Jerusalem local church in the early days, by Acts 11:30 elders are mentioned, and the trend thereafter in the Book of Acts was essentially apostles appointing local elders to lead these local churches (Acts 14:23, Acts 20:28, 1 Tim 5:17, 1 Tim 3, Titus 2, 1 Pet 5). We believe that a local church eldership team should be led by an elder who is “first amongst equals,” and that elders should be male.

The biblical teaching that men and women are equal in worth and interdependent, yet different in role, is known as Complementarianism. Applying this truth in the church, we believe that the Bible reserves eldership for men, but all other leadership positions are open both to men and women. Ultimately, we all desire to see our churches flourish as all the gifts God has placed in both men and women are released.


Differing slightly from the above-mentioned value of local churches being missional, shared mission refers to our broader mission of partner churches working together to fulfil our vision of planting and strengthening churches, and more effectively impacting our neighbourhoods, cities, cultures and the nations. We express our shared mission by:
  • Helping churches contextualise the gospel to their culture.
  • Helping churches grow.
  • Helping churches be meaningfully involved in church planting.
  • Helping assess, train and position church planters and leaders.
  • Encouraging cross-pollination of best ideas and practice.
  • Provoking churches to pray for gospel advance (Rom 15:30-31).
  • Provoking and coordinating finances for church planting.


The New Testament shows leaders and churches in warm relationship with each other, with the prevailing metaphor for the church being that of family. Family is never at the expense of mission, but neither is mission at the expense of family. With the pressures of a busy world and an expanding movement, we need to be clear that the relational aspect of church partnership is a biblical imperative, or else it is easy to opt for a less relational style. We pursue warm relationships because:

God is truly a relational God.

God’s plan has always been to fill the earth through families (Gen 1:28, 12:2-3). The New Testament church couldn’t think about God without thinking about father, nor about church without thinking about family (Eph 3:14-15, 1 Tim 5:1-2).

The New Testament bandwidth of relationships ranged from brotherly connection on one side (2 Tim 1:2, 1 Cor 4:17) through to seasoned fathers like Paul on the other (1 Cor 4:15-16), but never to a purely functional or corporate atmosphere. Paul encouraged church leaders to lead their churches in a family manner (1 Tim 5:1-2) and sometimes referred to the churches he partnered with as his children. It was on that basis that he felt he had authority to encourage, comfort and urge them to live lives worthy of God (1 Thes 2:6-8, 11-12).

Paul even displayed concern for the leader’s physical health (1 Tim 5:23) and often ended his letters with lists of personal greetings and messages to people in the church that he had got to know over years of involvement.

Partner church leaders respond quickly and warmly to emails and other forms of movement communication.


The gift of leadership is necessary for any group of people to move together, whether a family, a church or a movement of churches. Although we will often use colloquial phrases such as “mentors,” “coaches,” or “movement leaders,” we believe an apostolic gift is best suited to lead a movement of churches, a gift mentioned in Ephesians 4:11-13 alongside other gifts that few deny are valid for today. The apostolic gift (and the other Ephesian 4 gifts) are all essential for the Church to become all that God intends for her to be. Paul spoke of this gift as “first” (1 Cor 12:28, Eph 2:20) probably because of its foundation-laying role (Rom 15:20, 1 Cor 3:10-11, Eph 2:20) and its pioneering role, to break open new contexts to the gospel and church planting.

Although the Bible never actually uses the word team, the concept is most certainly in the Bible. God himself is a team, Jesus usually had a team around him and always sent his disciples out two-by-two, and the Apostle Paul was constantly working with teams of different shapes and sizes (see Acts 13; 16:6,10; 17:14-15; 18:7-8; 18:18-19; 19:22; 19:29 & 20:1-6). Additionally, Paul often enlarged his team when working into particular cities to include other men and women that he often referred to as “fellow workers,” such as Priscilla and Aquila (Rom 16:3; Acts 18:19), Andronicus and Junius (Rom 16:7), Urbanus (Rom 16:9), Euodia and Syntyche (Phil 4:2), Clement (Phil 4:3), and Artemas and Tychicus (Titus 3:12). This pattern of teamwork was also modelled by other apostles (Acts 3:1, 10:23, 8:14, 15:39).

Common sense and experience also makes valid reasons for team including accountability, friendship, strength and breadth of gifting, and sustainability, and it is interesting to note that when finances were involved, the plurality of accountability was stressed (Acts 4:34-35; 6:1-6, 11:27-30 & 2 Cor 8:16-22).

We take leadership and team seriously, sometimes even foregoing opportunities for speedy advance for the sake of strength of team such as Paul did in 2 Cor 2:12-13.

The Advance Leadership Team (ALT) provides guiding leadership to our partnership in Southern Africa.

This team currently consists of PJ Smyth, Steve van Rhyn, and Rigby Wallace. We are also developing Hub Teams (HT’s) to represent the ALT in various regions to better help take the mission forward and care for the churches. People are invited onto the ALT by PJ and the current ALT, and onto Hub Teams by the ALT.

Partner churches would particularly look to the ALT and HT’s for prophetic and strategic inspiration, for assistance in elder ordinations, crisis, transition, major sin in leadership, and when there isn’t yet an eldership team in place.

Beyond these teams, all manner of shapes and sizes of team will emerge based on gift recognition, fruitfulness, and relationship. For example, we have a team that oversees our ACPC programme, and another task-team working on peri-urban contextualisation, and so on. Teams will be fluid, not static, depending on the needs of the hour.

The Advance leadership ethos is about partnering, not promotion; serving, not being served; and giving, not taking. Leadership and leadership teams serve the mission and not the other way around. Leaders emerge as their character, gifting, and capacity for “chemistry” is revealed. Partnering churches are encouraged to build relationships with more than one member of the ALT, as well as other leadership gifts within Advance.