As a church, West E. Free has a dream to daughter churches that daughter churches to reach our county (Sedgwick) for Jesus Christ. This is a dream that was planted deep within us years ago as we looked at what God had for us in the future and the ways and methods in which God called us to engage the culture around us. When Cassie and I came to West E. Free nearly 3 years ago, this is one of the things that I was tremendously excited about and wanted to join with people in this journey of truly understanding the concept of faith, practice, and church. I was interested in joining an equipping church as we reached our county for Christ.
Today, I am retreating with elders in Atlanta, GA at the “Velocity” conference. It’s a church planting conference really tailored to speak right to leaders in Church plants or people considering church plants but there has been some awesome material that has allowed the elder board to really process our dream of daughtering churches. It has also been an affirmative time of recognizing that God’s dream through West E. Free is still very much alive. The fire is being stoked within each of the elders (and myself) to continue to ask what the next church “multiplication” might be and what that might look like and I am extremely excited about that. I’ll share just a little bit about what each of the speakers mentioned as well as some from the presenter that I went and listened to today in this post.
Shawn Lovejoy was the first speaker to step onto the stage today. He talked about how God has gifted people uniquely to really go after the mission and kingdom that God is intending to build and is currently building. He pointed out that confidence in Christ is invaluable as we walk the line in church leadership of humility and confidence. Shawn was passionate about the concept of believing that God would direct people as he wanted them to be and no where else. For me, I wrestle with knowing that my worth is in Christ and that my leadership relies on the God of the universe but sometimes listening to people or circumstances rings much louder than does the God of the universe. And Shawn reminded me that this was not the way God intended our relationship to be. It was a good opener to the afternoon and I found it refreshing to be part of a group of people on a journey contemplating what it means to really go after the calling that God has on their lives.
Anthony Evans is the worship leader (along with Todd Nichols). He is a great singer, a good leader, and seems to genuinely love God and want to lead others to the throne of grace with confidence through song. It was a great day of corporate singing and celebration together.
Alan Hirsch spoke during the second session. Alan talked about the layering that has occurred between the “traditional” way of doing church and the culture that is so far away from that world. He talked about the barrier that is nearly impossible for the traditional church to overcome to reach the 60% of people that will never step foot in the church. There are several barriers. Language, previous experiences, perceptions. All of these are barriers that separate people from the church. But there are barriers that separate the church from people as well. The church has insulated itself from the culture in the name of “holiness” and has created a barrier between itself and the culture that it gives lipservice to serving. Hirsch demonstrated well the inability to really go after truly unchurched people. The thing that I really loved about what he had to say was that we have hope. We must begin to tackle the problem of not connecting and be innovative and creative in this world to bring the message of God, Jesus Christ, and spiritual things (all of which our culture is fascinated with) to a world in which there is no need for the traditional church. The people of God must be the people of God. It was a challenging discussion.
Steven Furtick spoke last. I’m always excited to hear Steven speak and this time was no different. He did a great job talking about the section of scripture where the disciples are asked by Jesus to go get the donkey so that Jesus could ride it. And then went and did as the Lord had asked (Mark 11). He related that passage to anything that we do in ministry. Are we willing to do as the Lord has asked? Are we really willing to step out and do things that don’t like quite right to people around us? Are we willing to not know the whole plan and yet take one step at a time and follow Jesus Christ? Furtick challenged me to think about my own context of ministry. What is the next step God? Teach me!
I went to this breakout session with Hugh Halter. Read his story on his blog. It’s fascinating…Challenging…Inspiring…and seemingly spirit of God ordained. Being “missional” is a buzzword, until you are living it every single day with your family.
God, I pray that you would teach me and elders tomorrow what you would have us learn and process together. May you be glorified, honored, magnified through what West E. Free does in the area of church multiplication! And may your gospel go forward with innovative and creative ways of systematic distribution. Amen.