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Exponential 2014

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By Nate Olmstead, Church Planting Team Coordinator

I was blessed with the opportunity to attend Exponential church planting conference in Orlando, Florida, April 29-May 1, 2104. RMM President, Joe Showalter, and CMC pastors, Duane Detweiler, Larry Kaufman, and Rocky Favia, and myself attended the annual event (the largest global church plant conference), with much anticipation of learning more about “Rethinking Evangelism” which was the theme of this year’s conference. Although I cannot say that I had any major “rethink” moments, I was blessed by the contact with many other missional people and from hearing their stories.

A highlight for me was the various workshops that I was able to participate in. One that I thoroughly enjoyed was entitled, “Lessons from Antioch: Effective Cross-cultural Evangelism.” This workshop dealt with a focus on stateside, cross-cultural ministry where we dialogued about the importance of understanding the culture of a potential disciple. We talked about consistency being a major factor in the development of genuine friendship. Friendships can lead to kingdom experiences, the story of Jesus (gospel), and then ultimately to a new birth.

“Small Matters: Discipling Children” was another workshop that I enjoyed. These were a few of the points:

  • Every interaction with a child is a divine appointment.
  • 85% of people become Christians between the ages of 4-14 (the “4-14 window”).
  • 80% of those incarcerated were formally part of the foster system. What would happen if the church would step up its involvement in fostering/adopting?
  • What can I do to intentionally disciple my own children and those around me?

The last workshop that I attended was “Primal Fire: Reigniting the Church With the Five Gifts of Jesus” (Ephesians 4:1-16). In this workshop we talked about how Jesus has gifted the church with five different gifts for edification: apostle, prophet, evangelist, shepherd (pastor) and teacher. In many cases we have created an unhealthy and unstable church because we have not allowed all five gifts to be active. Having highlighted a few of the gifts and not allowing for expression of all five, the church has become unstable and is not properly edified. This was an interesting topic that we could have spent all day discussing.

I’ll finish this with a challenge from Pastor Oscar Muriu from Africa, who was one of the last main speakers at the event: “Are the things I’m living for what Christ died for?” There is much to chew on in this question.