Greg Surratt, Founding Pastor at Seacoast Church, believed every community deserves a life-giving church and that God was asking him to be a part of planting 2,000 churches worldwide. But he didn’t know how to make that happen.
In 2000, Greg met Billy Hornsby, who had developed the Cell Church Network with Bethany World Prayer Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Billy was fascinated by Greg’s “life-giving” weekend services that were attracting large numbers of unchurched people. Billy saw this as a model that should be emulated, and with it, he felt he could put “feet” to Greg’s vision of planting 2,000 churches.
Chris Hodges and Rick Bezet were two pastors from Bethany World Prayer Center, who were getting ready to plant churches. They knew they were called but didn’t have the money or the model for how to plant a church. Greg offered each of them $25,000 to fund their church plants, plus the extra monthly support they needed during their first year. This funding served as a safety net to boost their confidence in planting their local church. As their churches got on their feet financially, Greg asked them to invest the same amount they had received into other churches.
Billy’s brother, Scott Hornsby and Dino Rizzo were pastors who had also planted churches. They, too, had a heart to equip church planters and help build a healthy model for church planting. They had done it the hard way and knew what Greg and Billy did for Rick and Chris was key.
Together, Billy Hornsby, Greg Surratt, Chris Hodges, Rick Bezet, Scott Hornsby, and Dino Rizzo founded ARC. By the following year, other church planters were “reusing” the money initially used to fund those first two plants. Today, that initial investment of $25,000 has been reinvested and multiplied dramatically.
Billy Hornsby took the helm as ARC’s leader from 2001 – 2011. He carried an important value that became a part of ARC’s DNA – to value the little guy. Billy saw that many church planters felt like they were on their own. He loved to let them know that he believed in them. He became a friend who resourced them with training, funding, and ensured their strong start.
On March 23, 2011, Billy Hornsby went to be with the Lord after a battle with cancer. Billy left a tremendous legacy of pastors, leaders, friends, and of course, his family. In 2012, Greg Surratt became the President of ARC. He not only provides strategic leadership and direction for ARC as an organization, but is an incredible teacher and spiritual father to many pastors.
In the beginning, ARC planted a few churches each year. In 2006, ARC planted nine churches. Sixteen churches were planted in 2007. In 2008, 25 churches were planted. By 2009, an average of 50 new churches were planted annually. As of Spring 2022, more than 1,000 churches have been planted since ARC began. ARC has grown to a global organization that expands further than just church planting. However, the vision is still alive, that every community deserves a life-giving church.