I’ve attended Exponential several times since my first visit in 2007. It’s a singular opportunity for those interested in multiplication – of churches, disciples, and the Kingdom. I’ve said several times recently, it seems like everyone involved is committed to the cause, not just the platform. The main sessions offer inspiring times of worship coupled with convicting messages from passionate leaders. The breakout sessions are so diverse they literally offer something for everyone on the team. The cost easily makes it the most affordable large conference option available.
This year, we were fortunate to have 12 members of our team present. We didn’t pressure them to attend, they just heard such great reports from the ones who attended last year that we more than doubled our presence this year. Every single member of our team expressed an experience of profound impact over the course of these few days together.
Our experience began with the Healthy Growing Churches pre-conference. God spoke to me personally in the opening words of the first presentation. This year’s theme was Hero Maker, and I was confronted with the question: “Are you content with investing in people whose impact will significantly exceed yours – especially if no one ever knows it was you?” This is a formative question for my current season of life and ministry, and my answer is “Yes!” The input and inspiration of Exponential 2018 helped affirm that my greatest impact for God’s Kingdom can be the people I encourage, coach, and empower for their own pursuits of God’s call.
Our team gathered in a courtyard after the conference was over and everyone was gone. We shared highlights of our experience, key takeaways that would forever change the way we lead people and follow Christ. We prayed that God would not allow us to be the same people we were just a few days before. We thanked God for the privilege of serving His mission. And we can’t wait to see what He has planned for us next!
“Are you a Hero or a Hero Maker?” What a powerful and penetrating question! My time with the Healthy Growing Churches Pre-Con and Exponential 2018 was one of the richest experiences I’ve had in years. The Pre-Con helped me really look at the various layers of my own leadership, from how I care for my own soul as a leader to thinking critically about what “scorecard” I’m using to measure success. Taking time to “huddle” with other leaders and unpack these topics together was extremely rewarding as well. Kudos to Tom, Greg and the HGC Team for putting this together. I felt this year’s event was our most productive one yet! The latest Exponential challenge, to become Hero Makers, is absolutely a haunting theme. This year’s speakers pushed hard on my heart to give focused attention to pouring into developing leaders. Taking the posture that “I must become lesser so the Kingdom of God might become greater” is one that I hope will captivate my life for whatever time God allows me to live and lead and serve. I’m already looking forward to next year and see what my new scorecard for success will show!”
Exponential: Not Just for Church Planters
Admittedly, I have not prioritized the Exponential conference in Orlando, and I think it’s because our church, County Line Church of God, has not historically prioritized church planting. Personally, I have always believed in and possessed a desire to plant churches. However the few times I attended I knew that what I learned wouldn’t go beyond myself when I got back home. Fortunately, that is no longer the case as we are currently embarking on a big vision of planting 37 churches throughout the state of Indiana. However, that is not what I wanted to reflect on.
While attending this year’s conference, it occurred to me that this conference isn’t just for church planters. In reality, the content in the main sessions and breakout sessions can be applied to established churches and pastors just as much as church planters and campus pastors. The conference leadership has done a fantastic job of taking content that can fit in both new churches as well as established churches. Multiplication isn’t just about multiplying churches. It’s also about leadership development, discipleship, and ministries.
While I had a lot of great takeaways from this year’s conference, few of them had to do specifically with church planting. In reality, they had more to do with my development as a pastor, leader, and disciple verses County Line’s multiplication strategy. One of those areas I need to shift my outlook is in becoming a hero-maker. In short, God can only do so much with me and my ministry. As much as it pains me to admit it, I do have a ceiling, and I can be a bottleneck to what He wants to do. However, there is no end to what God can do when I begin looking for other people in our church who can lead a ministry, disciple others, or even plant churches. Hero-making has far more significance in God’s Kingdom than me being the hero.