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2022 Report from Northern Regional Superintendent/ Director of Church Planting
Since transitioned from pastoring to the EFCA Central Staff, it has been a joy to serve our pastors and churches. Over the year I have gradually begun to understand my role. My role encompasses co-leading church planting initiatives with Todd Brooks, overseeing the coaching of church planters, caring for pastors, serving churches in transition or conflict, facilitating elder workshops, and regular coaching for some pastors.
This year I had three main priorities as I stepped into my new role.
- Get to know our pastors and congregations
My main priority for this first year was to try to visit each one of our churches to get to know the pastors and congregations. I was able to visit in person over 2/3rds of our Iowa and South Dakota churches this year. I have been amazed by the character and humility of all of you. It has blessed and encouraged my heart to see so many men who embody gospel humility as they lead as shepherds.
- Develop a new church planting plan with Todd Brooks
Over the years, God has worked in many ways in the EFCA Central. One way we have seen him at work in the past was EFCA church members moving to new areas, forming a Bible study, and then calling up the district requesting to plant a new congregation. These requests are no longer coming in. The present reality compels us to ask, “What does it look like for the Body of Christ to embody a Boldness for the Gospel in their communities?”
Questions like this have led to the formation of Discovery Workshops. During these 4-5 hour workshops, Todd and I facilitate a conversation with a church’s local leadership diving into questions like, “Might God be calling our local congregation towards church planting? How can I discern where the rest of the leadership team stands on the topic? How do we know if we’re ready to begin to move in that direction?”
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. Having a leadership team in the room together discussing how God has been speaking helps bring into clear focus how God is desiring to move at a local church. In 2023 we are praying to be invited by more leadership teams to facilitate Discovery Workshops.
A new initiative we are starting in 2023 is working towards the formation of church planting coalitions. A church planting coalitions is a groups of EFCA churches who are committed to collaborating together for the purpose of seeing new churches planted. Church plants are always healthiest and have the best chance at long term viability when they a loving church partner from day one. What if we could have a family of churches partnering with our plants? We as the EFCA embody the truth “We are better together.” We in the EFCA Central want to begin to live that out more fully. In 2023 we will be working towards the formation of our first church planting coalition.
- Discover what are the biggest needs in the local congregations and ways the EFCA Central team can meet these needs
Meeting one on one with pastors and hearing their hearts has allowed me insights into the pressure points in many congregations. The three most prevalent pressure points in our churches have been (1) What to do for discipleship, (2) What to do for leadership development, and (3) How to missionally engage the community around us.
In seeking to help serve churches in these areas, I have begun to make myself available for a variety of workshops with elder teams. I have begun to do workshops with elder teams in the area of intentional discipleship, vision for the future, and growing as a team. The desired outcomes of these workshops are to strengthen the team dynamics of the elder team, to encourage teams to take intentional steps towards becoming Life-Giving Churches, to assist elder teams towards making a development plan for the specific areas they want to grow, and to build long-term relationships between the EFCA Central Team and local lay leaders. In 2023 I hope to be able to serve more leadership teams in this capacity.
It is a blessing to be able to serve in my role and I look forward to seeing what God accomplished in the year to come!