Exponential Conference

What is Exponential?  Exponential is a conference that gathers believers together under the mission and vision of church multiplication.  At this three-day conference, we all gather together for incredible teaching and worship, along with many workshops to attend.  I focused on workshops that were geared to where our church plant is.  In the beginning stages about a year out from launch.   At this conference I was able to gain incredible insights from leaders who have planted hundreds of churches and helped support hundreds more of church planters around the world.  What was also encouraging for me, was that the books I have been reading on church planting were reinforced by the workshops and speakers.

One of the most valuable experiences being at Exponential was being adopted into the church staff family of a local LA church plant I previously wrote about, Real Life LA.  This congregation is about two years ahead of where our church plant is today.  I was able to learn from where they are now and how they got there.  Before the conference, I worshiped with them on Sunday morning.  Real Life currently rents space from a local middle school in town.  I was able to see how the set up, service, and tear down went; knowing that our church plant will more than likely use rented space for some time.  I was also able to learn from a seasoned pastor, Jim Miller, and spent time with a board member, Mark Perone.  It was an incredible learning experience spending time with the Real Life team throughout the week.

What I learned from the Real Life team was church planting is tough!  HAHA Not that I didn’t already know that, but looking two years ahead of time I saw how important the need is for God’s people to step up and take ownership of their faith community.  We need faithful followers of Jesus to see how their participation in a church plant is highly evangelistic.  This made me realize that I must present to our church plant team how one of the best tools Christ has to reach new people for himself is his church.  According to research presented by the ECO Presbyterian Denomination, Church plants have members and attenders where 80-90% of whom were unchurched!  That is an incredible figure!  When a church plant team member gets to church early to set up the chairs and AV, they are working to reach a large segment of unchurched that will come check out a new church plant!  We need co-workers in the gospel, and we need even more than that!

But, how?  How do we grow our church plant team?  How do we grow our commitment to this team?  How do we cast a vision so great and so heavy that we can’t but help to serve God’s kingdom in this way?  These are the questions that I keep seeking the Lord and my mentors about.  These are the questions that I so long answers to.  If only there was a proven formula.  However, the great thing about church planting that I have learned in my early tenure is that every church plant is different because every community is different, every culture is different, every group is different.  One success story may or may not bleed into another story.  We must continue to seek God’s leading… Because it is God who will draw people unto himself.  It is God who will draw the right people to say “YES” to serving in this way with a dedicated and servant’s heart.  The team and I must continue to pray for God encounters so that we can be open to meeting folks who are waiting to join a movement like church planting.

My prayer is for our team, our future church, and all the church plants now and to come; that God will recruit, train, and equip his children to say “yes” to his calling.  It will happen… And in God’s timeless reality… It already has happened.

Month 1.5

 

When Jacqui and I received the call to come and plant a church in San Antonio, we were in the thick of summer student ministry.  If you know anything about summers in student ministry… They are not for the faint.  Our church sent out about 130 students and leaders from 7-12 grade to one of the scariest areas in the country.  The Tenderloin District of San Francisco.  Our students did a phenomenal job at reaching the homeless population for Christ.

When we returned from the mission trip, I answered “yes” to the call to come and be the lead church planter for Shepherd in San Antonio.  I informed our pastors in Dallas and, with a bittersweet heart, we rejoiced together for this new journey God was calling my family into.  All of the sad goodbyes were beginning while I got to lead our Confirmation students to their confirmation retreat in Colorado one last time.

Jacqui and I spent some time in our favorite getaway spot so we could recharge together before our new journey.

Then the work began… Jacqui and I hit the ground running getting to know the staff and community at Shepherd of the Hills.  Aaron had a list of committees for me to meet with and other folks in our new church family.  Jacqui served as one of the speakers at the women’s Bible study, and we had the opportunity to share our heart for church planting during the Pastor’s Bible Study.

In our first month, Aaron and I began to meet once a week, we’ve had our first church plant coaching session with Pastor Pete Mueller, Reverend Mike Newman invited us to join other local pastors for a monthly book study and fellowship, we began our monthly two-on-one meetings with Mike, we began our monthly fellowship meetings with our church plant friends in the ACTS church network, Pastor Chris and I began our monthly check-ins, and I began weekly meetings with my spiritual mentor, Jay Saliceti.

While all of these things are really awesome, I must say that meeting with our current church launch team takes the cake!  If you’re unfamiliar with the term “launch team” let me clarify.  It is just that!  This is a group of folks committed to seeing our community launch into a thriving worshiping community in Alamo Ranch.  We gather monthly for fellowship and to seek the Lord’s leading in how we can best serve Alamo Ranch for Christ, and to visit other churches so that we can learn from our sisters and brothers in the faith.  Initially our team will use The Intentional Church by Randy Pope to guide our team meetings.  I cannot be more excited to serve alongside this team as we seek to join other churches in the area to help make Jesus visible to our neighbors.  Currently our team consists of about 20 people, all worshipers at Shepherd who have a heart to see a new church form in Alamo Ranch.  In the very near future we will see this group continue to grow into a diverse group of folks from various backgrounds, church traditions and walks of faith.  It is my hope that our team will be so diverse and continue growing into such a loving and committed group of people that we can’t help but launch into a thriving church community.  We will be an Acts 2:42-47 community:

The Fellowship of the Believers
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

This week, I will hop on a plane and head to Newport Beach, California for the Exponential Church Planters Conference.  I cannot wait to be around other like-minded folks and learn from them, the amazing speakers, and all the breakout sessions.  While in LA, I will also be meeting with one of my amazing mentors, Cheryl Fletcher and visiting a new church plant in the suburbs of LA called Real Life LA.

Be sure to check back on this blog as I share a summary of what God revealed to me through this incredible conference and time spent with co-workers for the Gospel in LA.