Monday morning Neal McCullohs (our Connections Pastor) and I headed for Orlando and the Exponential Conference. It is probably the largest gathering of church planters in the country. CATB is a 4 year old church plant and we have made it our mission to encourage, train and resource all the church planters we can. This week I led training with Ron Sylvia (Church at the Springs, our lead partner when we launched) and Matt Keller (Next Level Church). It has been an incredible couple of days to hang with these huge risk takers for the kingdom of God! Thank you Church at the Bay for caring about church planters and allowing me to invest in them. Click on the picture at the top of this post and it will take you to Exponential’s website.
Church at the Bay is a 4 year old church plant. We began Church at the Bay because we understood that new churches are one of the most effective ways to meet people far from God. Steve Pridmore is the pastor of a new church plant, Two Rivers Church, we sponsor in South Florida. Check out their website here.
They launched this Easter with over 500 people attending in a gym! Do these pictures remind you of our gym time? Over the past 4 years we have helped 6 churches launch. We have helped with money, teams and other resources.
Our students are spending their spring break in Enterprise, Alabama, helping Crossroads Church (Gene Oden is the lead pastor)! This church is not yet 2 years old and they had over 350 people on Easter. Please pray for these 2 new churches. Later this month I will be helping train church planters at the Exponential Conference in Orlando. Below is a picture of Pastor Steve inviting people to trust Christ. They had over 20 people trust Christ this weekend! Go God!
This has been a great week for me. God is doing some cool stuff at and for Church at the Bay! I am over at Exponential 09 in Orlando- and the passion is high. I am teaching church planters with my friend and pastor of Church at the Springs, Ron Sylvia. I LOVE being around church planters- they take big risks and live life on the edge. Their passion is contagious. We are 3.5 years old at The Bay and as I talk to these guys I am reminded again and again that God has placed us in Tampa to “kick a dent in HELL”.
This coming weekend we are talking about Forgiveness and I am pumped. As I have been preparing and dealing with my own issues (lack of forgiveness), I believe this weekend will be vital to every serious Christ-Follower. The Bible is very clear about the responsibility of those who have been forgiven to forgive. Lack of forgiveness will make you miss what God has for you. So plan to come and bring a friend. Here is a video intro of this weeks interview with Satan:
I am in Lynchburg, Virginia until Saturday. The weather is cooler and they have leaves that actually change colors! The reason I am in this neck of the woods is my passion to encourage Church Planters. I am teaching at the Next Conference on church planting at Liberty University. Most of you know Church at the Bay launched about 3 years ago. I spent a lot of time before launching talking to everyone who knew anything about starting a church. We were able to negotiate some challenging obstacles because of the wisdom of other people who poured into my life (we also have experienced some challenges because of my thick skull). But, the research is conclusive and it is clear that nothing reaches people far from God more effectively than a church start. That is why CATB continues to help, equip and encourage church planters. Here are some ways we have engaged this mission:
We often have church planters in a weekend service before they launch looking around.
We have given them resources (just this week we gave away our stage that we used in the cafeteria) and finances
We have sent teams to help them launch
We pray for them
Most weeks CATB buys a lunch for a church planter I meet with
There are many reasons why CATB is engaged in helping planters, but one that looms large is the learn and return principle i.e., when God teaches us a truth- I believe we have a stewardship responsibility to pass it on! One big benefit for me is how my faith is stretched by hanging out with planters. Church planting is the extreme sport of ministry!
Finally- CATB we hope in the future to have church planting labs on a Friday through Monday (maybe as soon as this Spring). Church planters and teams will come to The Bay and we will give them a full access backstage pass to everything we do. This will all be at no charge- because CATB is built on generosity!
One last benefit- My daughter is a Physical Therapist and works in Lynchburg right now!