Highlights from the 2014 Exponential Church Planting Conference

The #Exponential Church Planting Conference is top flight all the way. Great content, great people, and always full of surprises. This year was my fourth year attending and the experience lived up to everything I hoped it would.

Exponential 2014 highlights

Here are some of my notes from various speakers in the pre-conference, main sessions, and workshops.


Matt Larson (@Matt_larson): Creating a Culture of Reproducing and multiplication
  1. Giving away leadership demonstrates that its not about you.
  2. Its all about and for God. Are you okay with that?
  3. Leave room for the Holy Spirit to speak to others in ways that may not be completely in line with what you were already thinking.


Shawn Lovejoy (@shawnlovejoy) – Simple Systems That Work

7 things we need to think through to keep the system simple…

  1. Think through the WHY behind the WHAT
  3. Think CYCLICAL not LINEAR.
  5. Create SIMPLE Steps
  6. Leverage the worship service for sign ups
  7. Be RIDICULOUS about follow up!


Nicky Gumbel (@nickygumbel) – Can the Nation be Changed?
  1. Cleaning nets is important, but its not the purpse of the nets. The nets are for catching fish.
  2. Enough infighting in the church. We need to unite around Jesus!
  3. Just because things are going down doesn’t mean they will continue to go down. #ThingsCanChange.


 Dave Gibbons (@davegibbons)
  1. You don’t have to be big to make an impact.
  2. The Holy Spirit is the X factor of loving people
  3. Evangelism and discipleship are all about supernatural love. Then it becomes FUN!


Vince Antonucci (@vinceantonucci)
  1. It made Jesus sick to see people without God. Does it make you sick?
  2. If you’re not living for His cause, you’re not really living!


Jim Burgen (@JimBurgen)
  1. What level of lostness are you comfortable with?
  2. The number one question asked of Jesus: why does He hang out with sinners?I won’t follow wimpy Jesus! I want to follow KING Jesus!
    1. Do you really want sinners in your church?
    2. If you do, they will show up.
    3. Don’t plant a church that promises bread but serve up rocks!
    4. You okay with sinners coming into your church? It’s a mess!
  3. Let’s plant some churches that drop the rocks and give hungry people bread.


Larry Osborne (@larryosborne)
  1. The people who are best at drive-by guiltings are often the worst at reaching people.


Alan Hirsch (@alanhirsch)
  1. We will fail unless we get discipleship right. Most churches suck at it!
  2. The church growth movement basically misinterpreted the great commission. Thought it was all about evangelism, when the commission is making disciples who obey Jesus!
  3. If the Great Commission IS all about making disciples, where did we get it all wrong?
  4. Incarnation, God became a man. What ever happened to this part of the equation, HELLO?
  5. Christianity without discipleship is Christianity without Jesus!


Damian Boyd (@damianlboyd)
  1. God doesn’t want us to hide the light, He wants us to put it on display.
  2. Our job as church planters is taking the gospel to places that are dark.
  3. Doing NOTHING should NEVER be an option!
  4. Your voice is necessary! They should know your name. You matter!


Michael Frost (@michaelfrost6)
  1. If we don’t get the opportunity to announce the rule and reign of Jesus, then we aren’t being #missional.
  2. Col 4:2-6 – two-pronged to approach to role of the evangelist:
    1. There are some who are gifted evangelists who have either a local or trans-local call. Paul asked for prayers for those gifted as evangelists.

    • Then he says, as for YOU who are NOT gifted as evangelists.

    2. Paul doesn’t think we are all evangelists, we are not all going to boldly proclaim the gospel. For most of us, our primary mode of proclaiming the gospel is in response to people’s questions.

    • This implies we are living lives worth questioning! This is your primary missionary lifestyle.
    • If you live like them, then what do they have to question your life about?
    • Live a life that evokes curiosity, that’s so freaking weird, that people around you want to know who you are, to invite you to their parties!
    • A fine upstanding middle class suburban lifestyle is not intriguing!
    • If no one is asking you questions, you’re doing it all wrong!


Hugh Halter (@hughhalter)
  1. The way of Jesus…


  1. True godliness deeply dives INTO the world!
  2. The MOST righteous one ever walked without judging sinners.
  3. We’ve got some work to do folks. #DIVEIN
  4. Don’t be afraid, the people around you should actually like you!


DJ Strickland (@djstrickland)
  1. The Holy Spirit is always interrupting our plans, that’s how we know the Spirit is a woman!
  2. If we’re honest about what witness is, we’re going to have to change the way we SEE!
  3. Jesus sees people no one else sees
  4. We need to see Jesus the way He really is so we can see people the way they really area.


James Meeks (@revjamesmeeks)
  1. The key to our success in getting results = preaching the announcements
  2. Whatever it is you want people to do, make it a sermon


Matt Chandler (@mattchandler74)
  • Luke 15
    1. What makes preaching distinctively preaching is the Word of God.
    2. Jesus enters into the world views, and then reconstruct them redemptively. Gospel preaching deconstructs and reconstructs.
    3. When I was growing up timeout was what happened after dad knocked you out!
    4. Don’t be sharing other people hanging out with lost people stories
    5. Summary points
      1. Don’t live vicariously through others
      2. Trust the bible. You don’t have to be cute
      3. Trust the Holy Spirit.


Andy Stanley (@andystanley) – Communicating with Unchurched People in the Room

Approach to preaching – “approach is everything”

  1. If you don’t care what people do with what you say, you don’t care about people.
  2. If you’re really committed to reaching un-churched, non-Christains, then from time to time we have to change our approach
  3. I can’t make someone fall in love with Jesus, but I can set up dates.
  4. Challenge: Avoid the phrase “The bible says…” and instead substitute the author.
    1. This communicates that the Bible is the foundation of the Christian faith. Therefore, if there is an error, a problem, a conflict, then there goes the whole Christian faith.
    2. The foundation of the Christian faith is an event… the Resurrection! VITAL!!!
    3. The problem with “the Bible says” is what else the bible says. It’s NOT all equally applicable and relevant.


Choco de Jesus (@PastorChoco)
  1. Engage your church
  2. Engage the community
  3. Engage the city
  4. Engage the world.


Tim Cathcim (@TimCatchim) – Building Effective Teams for Missional Impact: The Fivefold Giftings of Ephesians 4:11 in Team Building
  1. Simple definitions
  • APOSTLE: sent + extend
  • PROPHET: questions + reforms
  • EVANGELIST: tells + invites
  • PASTOR: protects + provides
  • TEACHER: explains (topic) + trains (task)
  1. Hold diversity/unity tightly together. They go hand in hand. CANNOT have a cloning culture. Stay away from cloning, competing or congregating cultures.
  2. The ideal/sweet spot is a collaborating culture.
  3. When common mission glues unity & diversity together = collaborating culture.


QUESTION: (1) for those at Exponential, what were your top highlights? (2) for those NOT at Exponential, what’s your favorite highlight from above?