In August 2014 my wife and I left a steady and somewhat comfortable position to launch into the uncertain waters of church planting. Our former church financially supported us for four months, but we otherwise didn’t know how we’d survive.
Racial tension and conflict has flooded the news lately. Rather than point fingers and cast blame, I submit THE answer is quite simple. Not easy or quick, but transformational.
Racial (I prefer using the word ethnic) tensions exist in large part because we don’t listen to one another. It’s hard to understand someone who is different without knowing them. How many ethnically and culturally different people do we really know?
Excited and scared! Those words describe how my wife and I feel about this season of our lives and ministry. We are excited to be on a church planting team, and to be raising prayer and financial support. We are scared as we step out in faith like never before! Have you ever felt that way? Here’s my personal update and a few lessons I’m learning that might help you navigate a similar season of life.
After years of preparation that included doctoral studies, reading stacks of books, attending conferences, church planting boot camp, and formal church planter assessments… we’re stepping forward to be part of Restoration Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland!
My blog has been dormant for a while! I’ve been working as a seasonal UPS Delivery Car Driver since October. There were a few stretches the last few weeks I didn’t see my kids for a few days! Change ahead!
New Years gives us all an opportunity to reflect back and look forward. 2014 was a year full of change for me and my family. 2015 will be an even bigger year of change.
Life is full of transitions. From each stage of physical growth, schools, friends, marital status, churches, housing, and jobs. The last few months has been full of BIG transitions for our family. It’s a lame excuse, but that’s what’s kept me from writing. It’s been WAY too long since I’ve written a post! I apologize for not keeping you updated! This post outlines the transitions we’re going through that will culminate in launching Restoration Church in October 2015!
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.
Here are some of my notes from various speakers in the pre-conference, main sessions, and workshops.
7 things we need to think through to keep the system simple…
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.
Approach to preaching – “approach is everything”
The Exponential East Church planting conference takes place April 28-May 1, 2014 in Orlando, FL. This is the largest gathering of church planting leaders in the world. The conference theme is “Seek + Save” and will feature 100+ speakers, 125+ workshops, 15+ tracks, & 5,000 church planting leaders.
Exponential 2014 will take a fresh look at evangelism — proclaiming the Good News — as we rethink and challenge some of our old paradigms and rediscover some of Jesus’ old truths. Within the context of discipleship, we will press into five key areas of evangelism:
ReThinking Evangelism | ReThinking Outreach |
ReThinking Witness ReThinking Preaching | ReThinking Commission
This year will be our (my wife Laura and I) fourth year attending Exponential. Every year it’s been challenging, encouraging, and inspiring. This year it has a much different feel though. I can’t let the cat completely out of the bag, but I’ll just say that in the next 12-18 months we believe God wants to use us to launch something new! Much more to come on that in the weeks ahead.
Attending conferences is great. But there are a few things we can do to get the most out of it. Check out this post, 5 Do’s and Don’ts to Make the Next Conference You Attend Radically Beneficial. HERE is another helpful post from @revchadbrooks.
Here are 3 reasons the Exponential Conference is a must:
There is SO much amazing content offered at this conference. WAY too many options, LOL! But it’s such a mix of people, churches, seasons of life/planting/launching new churches, etc., that there is something for everyone.
The content at Exponential is broken into at least three categories…
The description: “developing the launch plan, building a launch team, marketing/outreach, leadership/staffing and creating/funding the vision. We’ll also dive into those practical “have to” topics like legal documentation and your portable church equipment. We all know church planting is hard and we’ll address issues head on with the topic of Planter Heath.”
I’m super pumped about these sessions. The topics deal with the main questions we have about next steps.
There are 6 other pre-conference tracks. Each of them is loaded with great content.
All of the main sessions will be streamed LIVE and FREE. For dates and times (EDT) of all 10 webcast sessions, consult http://exponential.org/webcast.
The main session topics and speaker line-up:
Rethinking Evangelism: Nicky Gumbel, Dave Gibbons, Vince Antonucci, Ed Stetzer, John Teter, & Louie Giglio.
Rethinking Outreach: Jim Bergen, Choco DeJesus, Larry Osborne, Alan Hirsch, & Damian Boyd.
Rethinking Witness: Michael Frost, Hugh Halter, Danielle Strickland, Craig Groeschel, Jeanne Stevens, & Greg Nettle.
Rethinking Preaching: James Meeks, Andy Stanley, Tim Keller, Matt Chandler, & Dave Ferguson.
Rethinking the Great Commission: Dave Ferguson, Greg Nettle, Greg Surratt, Matt Chandler, Dave Travis, Oscar Muriu, Dave Ferguson, & Bill Hybels.
Over 125 workshops are on the menu! Overwhelming??? But amazing opportunities to hear leading practitioners up close. And they’re all recorded and podcast-ed FREE. I listen to workshops from previous years regularly. LOADED with great content.
Content is great, but life and ministry is all about people! There are a LOT of people to meet at Exponential! Two groups of people are especially important…
It’s one thing to fill out forms online, talk on the phone, and Skype. But Exponential gives us the opportunity to meet leaders in person, both formally and informally.
My wife and I will attend an informal BBQ Mon hosted by Stadia, a banquet Tues evening hosted by Stadia, a luncheon Wed hosted by AmbassadorNet and the EFCA, and a dinner party Wed evening hosted by NewThing.
For the third year in a row my wife and I will be with her sister and husband (my bro-in-law). They planted a few years ago and are praying about being a part of something new. It’s an honor for us to share this week seeking God and dreaming together.
There are many other old friends we look forward to seeing, sharing, laughing, and maybe crying with.
No doubt we will meet and make many new friends. Only God knows the divine appointments that await all 5000+ of us attending!
I’m blessed to have the opportunity to attend Exponential with my wife Laura. We’ve done this the last several years and it’s a highlight every year. We love to debrief and talk about all we’re learning, hearing, and experiencing together. And of course it’s nice to unplug & unwind after hours with my best friend and closest ministry partner!
If you’re not able to attend you can watch the main session for FREE! Register HERE.
This year I will be part of the #Exponential Social Media team. From Mon-Thurs I’ll be tweeting (@ed_choy using #exponential) from the pre-conference, main sessions, and workshops.
QUESTION: what’s the most significant or favorite church planting resource?
There are at least three reasons many churches should be multiethnic. Last week I shared some biblical reasons for multiethnic churches. You can read that HERE. There are at least two more reasons to consider.
The biblical rationale for a multiethnic church is strong. But there are other reasons. Here are two you should consider.
There are massive shifts in diversity in America. It is increasingly difficult to say there is little diversity in most places. For example, in November 2005 the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education noted the sweeping changes in the U.S. workforce:
The U.S. workforce (generally ages 25 to 64) is in the midst of a sweeping demographic transformation. From 1980 to 2020, the white working-age population is projected to decline from 82% to 63% (see figure 1). During the same period, the minority portion of the workforce is projected to double (from 18% to 37%), and the Hispanic/Latino portion is projected to almost triple (from 6% to 17%).
While Caucasians are still a large majority, most live in areas where more than 20 percent of the population is non-White. If the church should be a reflection of the community, then most churches should reflect the increasing diversity. When possible, churches should make intentional effort to be multiethnic.
In a November 2013 WSJ article, Conor Dougherty states,
Whites will comprise less than half of the U.S. population by 2042, about eight years earlier than previously thought, according to a report to be released by the Census Bureau.”
In the same article William Frey, senior demographer at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank added,
We are going to become more diverse in more parts of the country and in more of the age structure sooner.
Gerardo Marti, in his case study on Mosaic Church LA A Mosaic of Believers
(Erwin McManus) says,
The United States continues to become more and more diverse in every societal sphere, bringing a new challenge of integration to both civic and religious organizations.
He goes on to cite three major demographers who suggest that by the year 2050, and some say sooner, America will have no single majority group. The changing face of most domains of society is feeling this shift. However, the majority of churches in America do not yet reflect this new reality.
Consider what McIntosh and McMahan say in their book Being the Church in a Multi-Ethnic Community,
The new ethnic marketplace is forcing government, businesses, and churches to rethink how to speak the language and adopt the culture of the new multi-ethnic and multicultural reality.
The multicultural and multiethnic reality cannot be ignored.
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.
In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
For the last two days I have been in Atlanta, GA for the Velocity14 church planting conference. Last week I wrote about what I was looking forward to. Below are a few of my reflections and take aways from Velocity14.
The theme of Velocity14 was PACE. My core take away is from Shawn Lovejoy. He said “Winning requires running the right race at the right pace.” Everything else revolves around this theme.
CORE TAKE AWAYS
In the first main session Shawn Lovejoy challenged all 800+ attendees to write 1, 2, 3. Then, throughout the conference to write down three specific next steps. Here are mine:
1. William Vanderbloemen (
@wvanderbloemen) is the founder and CEO of the Vanderbloemen Search Group. His challenge was to take the first 30 minutes of each day to listen to the Shepherd’s voice. Do this for the next 30 days. Feeling the noise of too many voices, I am taking that challenge. I commit to spend time in prayer and reading God’s Word before looking at or listening to anything else.
2. Aubrey Malphurs (@amalphurs) teaches at Dallas Theological Seminary and founder of The Malphurs Group. In his pre-conference session on Leadership he challenged us to clarify our leadership development process in writing. I am going to work on that one day every week for the next month.
3. Derwin Gray (@DerwinLGray) is the founder and lead pastor of Transformation Church. In his breakout session on vision he talked about how to grow as a vision-caster. In the next six months I will spend part of my personal retreat day clarifying God’s vision for my life and ministry.
Here are a few main session and breakout highlights…
Dave Ferguson (
In his main session Dave asked, “How do we lead a reproducible and sustainable life? Based on Jesus’ example from Luke 2:52 he created 4 gauges. Dave challenged us to evaluate these areas regularly/daily:
Jeff Vanderstelt (@JeffVanderstelt)
Derwin Gray (@DerwinLGray)
Shawn Lovejoy & Blake Stanley (
@blake_stanley) – Breakout session 3 “Simple Systems That Work”
Breakout Session 4 – Mark Batterson (@MarkBatterson)
7 lessons learned
My soul was deeply refreshed and newly challenged. There were many divine appointments. New friends were made. Many challenges taken.
THANK YOU Velocity14 and Mountain Lake Church for an a great experience!
Velocity is premier church planting conference hosted by Mountain Lake Church in Cumming, GA Feb 17-18, 2014. The emphasis of the conference is the speed or pace in church planting. It’s not about being fast or taking it slow. It’s all about keeping pace with the Holy Spirit!
I’ve attended the Exponential Church Planting Conference in Orlando, FL several times. Every time I’m challenged, encouraged, and inspired. But this will be my first year attending Velocity. There are several things I’m looking forward to…
I’m looking forward to hearing the main session speakers. This is a top flight lineup. Listed in alphabetical order: Mark Batterson, Jeff Bethke, Rick Bezet, Dave Ferguson, Derwin Gray, Brandon Hatmaker, Pete Hise, Shawn Lovejoy, William Vanderbloemen, and Jeff Vanderstelt. If that’s not enough the list of breakout speakers is goes on an on. Every one of them brings a ton to the church planting and leadership conversation.
Add to that the four pre-conference conversations: marriage, missional, financial, and leadership. I am excited to participate in the leadership conversation with Aubrey Malphurs. I’m sure the other three conversations will be solid too.
I’m looking forward to hearing what God is doing around the country and world. With all the bad news in our world, I’m excited to hear how God’s Kingdom is expanding.
2. The People.
I’m looking forward to meeting church planters and leaders from all over. It’s one thing to read a book, blog, or listen to a podcast. But church planting is challenging and it’s easy to feel alone and isolated. Velocity is a great opportunity to connect with old friends and make new ones.
3. The Surprises.
I’m looking forward to being surprised. My prayer is for divine encounters and connections. I can’t wait to be surprised by the Holy Spirit! Who knows what life altering encounter Velocity will bring into my life!
4. The Next Steps.
I’m looking forward to discerning what next steps God is calling me to take. The trip won’t be worth the investment just to sit and soak. God will be speaking. I pray for a listening heart and courage to act on what I hear.
QUESTION: if you’re going to Velocity 2014 what are you looking forward to? I hope to see/meet you there!
If you’re not there in person every main sessions will streamed live. Join the conversation. Then I’d love to hear your take aways and next steps.