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.