Even More Reflections on Exponential 2018

Beth Ehlert, HGC Creative Catalyst

Exponential 2018 was one of my first opportunities to participate in a conference for church planters, disciple makers, and multipliers. In my church background, the only time I would see a church “multiply” was when it would split over issues either big or small. Very rarely in my community do you see a church empower, equip, and send people out to truly multiply.

One of my main takeaways from Exponential 2018 came from the workshops and main sessions. Not only was I able to see strong, assertive women speak about the heart and passion of Jesus, but I also observed and heard men affirming their women counterparts in their roles as church planters. I heard them say words/phrases like “when he or she is called to plant/multiply…” rather than just “he” like it was an intentional thing. For some people this may not seem like a big deal. But when you’re planted in deeply southern culture where a woman’s role is relegated to only teaching in women’s ministry or leading children, you can see how the use of these simple phrases could reaffirm a genuine calling in a woman to move in and plant a church she has been called to plant for the cause of Christ. I had the opportunity to move from a place of feeling completely unsupported in my goals to fully supported by men and women alike.

During the Healthy Growing Churches Pre-Conference Equipping Lab, I was also able to network with other leaders – people who are thriving in their ministries and those who are just treading water. The huddle times provided an excellent opportunity to talk about challenges we face in ministry and to provide necessary encouragement. My hope is that many of the people we met in this setting will become life-long friends.

Here is an excerpt from my journal as I wrote about my experience at Exponential: “I thought there was something wrong with me regarding what I believe about church, discipleship, empowerment, equipping, and multiplication. What I came away knowing is I am not the freak! I am not alone!”

Dave Phillips, HGC Connection Catalyst

The shift from being the hero, the center of attention, to one who encourages and promotes others is refreshing and invigorating. Speaker after speaker pounded home the idea that we should be looking for the next generation of leader to draw people to Christ within their particular context and specific gifting.

My fruit grows on other people’s trees.

To create a legacy, we have to think differently, as Albert Tate reminded us. For something to have enduring impact, Andy Stanley explained that “Your glory is far too small a thing to live your life for” and emphasize the words of Jesus, “Not so with you…” (Mark 10:43). Jossy Chacko made the audacious statement that Coke and McDonalds have been more successful than the church at penetrating markets. Don’t we have more to offer?

When we all see ourselves as missionaries, this will change. When the church sees itself in the context of implementing God’s mission beyond self-promotion, we will see change in our culture, we will be part of the radical change required for the people.

Oscar Muriu challenged us to send out sons and daughters rather than church planters to emphasize the importance of pouring into others, just like Jesus poured into His disciples.

Danielle Strickland inspired us to see that heaven cannot wait to redeem the earth, that we each have a role to play. To be effective we need to shift our posture and choose to surrender, to release, to go and do as God called us to do individually and collectively.

These are just a few of the lessons learned during Exponential 2018. Inspirational, yes. Practical, indeed. The key is to share this information beyond the brief time spent in Orlando last month. We need to keep this conversation alive.