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2022 Report from Southern Regional Superintendent/Director of Church Planting
This has been a year where things that I have been praying and working toward have begun to take great strides toward coming into fruition. As I wrap up my third year full-time on the EFCA Central Team, I can feel things starting to thaw, and movement has begun to happen on so many fronts across our churches. This is encouraging and makes me savor the opportunity to reflect and to look forward. In all these things, team is a key word. I get the privilege of working with a wonderful group of people in our EFCA Central Team, and also collaborating beyond this nucleus.
- Establishing New Congregations
Three particularly bright spots this year show the way that the post-pandemic thaw is happening across our churches. While Mark Farran and I collaborate across the district on all the multiplication projects that are in various stages of development from a dream to a member congregation, I want to focus on these three that are moving forward in the southern part of EFCA Central.
First, Lance and Suzanne Lefler are giving leadership to Anchor Church in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas. It is a church that is seeking to reach the many families that live in an area designed to be a retirement community. There are 1000 school aged children who live within the boundaries of the world’s largest gated community. Anchor Church has a compelling commitment to see these families reached and folded into a Gospel community.
Next, I want to highlight the St. Charles City campus of Calvary Church. This group voted, with the complete blessing of Calvary Church, to become a new church plant focused on meeting the unique needs and reaching the people of the historic “Frenchtown” area of St. Charles. Their future is bright under the leadership of Chris Bantz and his team. Pray for this new work with a rich history as they discern how to best engage their neighborhood with the Gospel.
Finally, I am honored to get to work with the Burmese congregation in Columbia, MO as they pursue taking steps to become an EFCA Central Church. Early indications are that they are eager to do this under the leadership of newly arrived pastor, George Tluanga, who has extensive experience with the Free Church in Myanmar.
As we work with these and many more initiatives, Mark and I collaborate to move church multiplication forward. An aspect of a division of labor in our unified strategy of developing planters, is Mark having a focus on coaching while I focus on training. Every member of the EFCA Central staff team has a vital role, speaking into the thriving of our church plants.
- Trusting God for a Culture of Multiplication
Mark and I have been giving lots of attention to asking the question, how can we really be most effective in seeing churches multiplying churches? This has led to a number of initiatives including the formation of the “Discovery Workshop”. This is a 3-6 hour discussion with a local church’s leadership, facilitated by Mark and I, where we help the leaders discover the opportunities to step out in obedient faith to take the next step in engaging their communities. As Mark expresses—
Every time we have facilitated these conversations, we have been amazed by how God has worked. Every time, God showed up. His Spirit spoke powerfully to the pastors and elders. The beauty of how God communicates is there is ALWAYS unity in what the Spirit of God communicates to the Body of Christ. Each team of pastors and elders have felt a unified direction of God leading them.
This has been our experience each time we have “test-driven” one of these events during the past year. We believe rolling this out to more churches in EFCA Central will be significant in seeing more and more churches discover how they can live out the impact the Lord is inviting them to experience. In 2023 we are praying to be invited by more leadership teams to facilitate Discovery Workshops.
A portion of my time and energy is invested representing EFCA Central as part of ReachNetwork, the church planting ministry of the EFCA. On this team we collaborate, building the systems and direction, for encouraging and empowering multiplication nationwide. These include:
- Recruit and Develop
- Assess and Affirm
- Train and Coach
- Care and Establish
In this context, I have been working on taking our church planter training and refocusing it on training existing churches to live out their missionary identity. This has the working title of a Cultivate Cohort, and it is currently in beta testing, and I would love to work with any groups of church leaders that would like to participate in a beta test. (Please contact me if this is a desire.)
- Serving the needs of our Churches
For the past year and a half, I have been giving leadership to our EFCA credentialing systems with the other members of our Pastor Church Relationship Committee. We have seen a growing interest among pastors and other ministry leaders to take the steps to obtain an EFCA credential. This is an important way that we walk in obedience to the command to “keep close watch” on one’s life and doctrine. I want to help those who desire this in any way I can, so please do not hesitate to contact me with questions about how to begin, or restart, this process.
It is a blessing to serve in this role and I look forward to seeing how God blesses our churches in the year to come!
Grace & Peace,