What an amazing year! In 2016, Exponential narrowed our focus, stoked our passion, and expanded our impact!
We are a family of like-minded, church multiplication activists who are committed to Jesus, the Church, and the multiplication of healthy, reproducing faith communities.
We know that God’s blessing makes all the difference. I’ve spent some time reflecting on God’s hand of favor over this past year. Here are some things I’m thankful for:
- Jesus is our Center – The privilege of making Jesus’ name famous is our top priority! Jesus is the focus, God is honored, and the Holy Spirit is present. For us, everything starts and ends with Jesus.
- The Mission Matters – A team that is united on a compelling mission that matters to God. Seeing the scorecard of multiplication change in the U.S. Church drives everything we do. We seek to be a catalyst and champion for moving the needle on multiplication from less than 4 percent of U.S. churches ever reproducing to greater than 10 percent. Our team is passionately united on this “4 to 10” mission. Imagine the impact of each 1 percent increase. Wow!
- The Scorecard is Changing – It’s far easier today to find reproducing churches than it was just a decade ago. We continue to talk to and hear about the growing number of pastors who are feeling uneasy and discontent with the prevailing, addition/accumulation-focused scorecards. The instinctive impulse for a new scorecard based on releasing and sending is starting to take hold, and this church multiplication conversation is making a difference.
- The Language is Compelling – The increasing number of leaders embracing the sticky and memorable vocabulary we introduced this year through our eBook, Becoming a Level 5 Multiplying Church. To date, more than 50 key networks and denominations are using this information and framework to help shape the development and categorization of future church multiplication resources.
- The Team Matters – The AMAZING Exponential Team sacrificially serves without complaining and always pulls everything together. Functioning on less than a 10 percent overhead, this team is decentralized, personally committed, and highly leveraged for impact. Each one could be doing so many other things, but they believe deeply in serving church planters and helping move the multiplication needle. Terri, Bill, Alexis, Brooks, Anna, Mariah, and Lindy are rock stars.
- The Family Unites – Our events are “family reunions” of like-minded church multiplication leaders. Our gatherings are like “circles” with speakers hanging out with and learning along with attendees vs. “triangle” events with speakers at the top and attendees at the bottom. Numerous national leaders have said that Exponential conferences are the one “must-attend” gathering for anyone involved in church planting and church multiplication. This past year was no exception.
- The Family Grows – A collective total of 8,000+ attendees at our 2016 conferences and regional events—indicating a growing number of leaders who are joining the multiplication conversation. Three new regional events in 2016 in Washington D.C., Chicago, and Manchester, England, allowed us to expand our reach both here and internationally. We successfully piloted a partnership model that will allow us to expand further globally. In 2017, we’re expanding our regional events to include Houston and possibly Seattle.
There are a growing number of groups (networks and denominations) coming to Exponential. Well over 2,000 people attend our gatherings in groups. In fact, some groups have stopped doing their own national conferences, opting instead to make use of the Exponential conference.
- The Family Reproduces – Multiplication! Over the last 11 years, leaders have planted more than 1,000 churches out of decisions they made at Exponential, events reproducing into regions, and new events birthed by partner organizations.
Stories continue to reflect the impact of the prayer and anointing service on the last day of Exponential East and West. Six years ago, Ryan Kwon came to Exponential not expecting to start a church. Sitting in the balcony listening to Matt Chandler speak, he felt the nudge to step out on faith. That morning, Matt prayed for him and anointed him to step out and plant. Ryan planted Resonate Church and is now a regular family member at Exponential. This year, he brought his first church planter to Exponential and during the same commissioning service that changed Ryan’s life, both Matt Chandler and Ryan prayed over and anointed this planter.We are also reproducing into other ministries with a ripple effect far greater than Exponential. Learning from Exponential, Mark DeYmaz started the Mosaix Multiethnic Conference. Mosaix now welcomes more than 1,200 attendees. Discipleship.org Founder Bobby Harrington piloted a forum format via Exponential and this year launched a new national discipleship conference rooted in learnings and encouragement from Exponential. The National Disciple Making Forum debuted with more than 600 attendees. Using a partnership model, Exponential expanded to start new regional events.
- The Conversation Deepens – The most comprehensive and integrated theme year in our 11-year history. The 2016 Becoming Five theme encompassed a new book (Becoming a Level 5 Multiplying Church); a new online multiplication assessment tool (becomingfive.org); our main stage programming at five different events; a new Becoming Five Digital Access Pass (online video training); a new Becoming Five multiplication webcast; and an online training package.
- The Conversation Continues – In 2015, we focused the conversation on creating a culture of multiplication, and continued that conversation in 2016 by introducing a framework and language to help leaders grasp how they’re doing (current reality) and what they’re aspiring to become (future). We also journeyed together to understand the barriers and obstacles to multiplication. Now in 2017, we’re helping leaders identify their multiplication dream and a concrete plan for moving forward.
- The Free Resources Expand – The ongoing fruition of a dream to offer FREE resources. On the Exponential website, you can now find 1,000+ free equipping resources for church multiplication leaders, including free eBooks, audio training, courses, assessment tools, articles, webcasts, reports, etc. An increasing number of church leaders are taking advantage of our FREE online assessment tool and discovering their level of multiplication. Nearly 1,000 churches have taken the assessment this first year.We have ongoing opportunities to aggregate resources and platform the many ways God is at work in the Church. From day one, Exponential has been committed to exposing leaders to a mosaic of models, approaches and practices vs. telling leaders there’s one right way to do things. Our approach has always centered on two empowering concepts common to multiplying churches: 1) “Our fruit grows on other people’s trees” and 2) “You can do it, how can we help?”Our new resource channels are significantly increasing the free resources we can distribute. We partner with like-minded ministries who then champion the aggregation and distribution of resources within a specific area of interest via Exponential.
LOTS OF AMAZING! For example:
- An Amazing Prayer Team – The utter devotion of Thomas Bush who leads our prayer team. Before and throughout the week, volunteers sign up to pray for the entire Exponential family, including our team, attendees, speakers, sponsors, host churches, etc. The prayer team is also on site, offering prayer for any registrant.
- Amazing Speakers – The devoted speakers who come to Exponential to sacrificially serve church leaders. Exponential has now worked with more than 400 national speakers. A growing number of speakers consider themselves “family members” and have often told us that they’d attend even if they were not speaking. We’ve had a continual flow of new and fresh voices into this conversation. We seek to ensure that at least 25 percent of our speakers are new in the conversation. This year was no exception.
- An Amazing Band – The blessing of a stellar, sacrificial team of musicians who make up what we now call the Exponential Band. Each year, these talented young men and women come together, often taking a break from touring, to bless the Exponential family. Band leaders Lucas and Evelyn Cortazio are sold out to Exponential and to serving church-planting leaders. Their voices were highlights at this year’s live gatherings.
- Amazing Volunteers – An amazing team of friendly volunteers who diligently serve church planters at each Exponential gathering. These volunteers do it all—setup and teardown, registration, keeping tables stocked with food and most important, answering numerous and diverse questions that any attendee might have.
- Amazing Facility Hosts and Locations – The sacrificial nature and cooperation of both our facility hosts and our regional partners. These teams are like family to Exponential. Most of our facility partners invest in planters by allowing them to use their facilities at their actual cost.
The accessibility of our conference locations. Ideally suited for family vacations pre- or post-event, Orlando and Los Angeles are fantastic places to take families. This year we were excited to be back in Orlando at First Baptist Church for Exponential East and at Mariner’s Church in Irvine, California, for West.
- An Amazing Creative Team – The abundantly talented creative team that turns the idea of a theme into stunning reality. Don Smith, Dave Ferguson and Pat Masek are wizards!
- Amazing sponsors – Our sponsors subsidize conference attendees’ costs by 50 percent, which helps us keep registration prices low. Our national conferences and regional events draw 60+ sponsors (with a waiting list).
- Amazing Value – Knowing that church planters are a frugal bunch as they seek to be good stewards of their limited financial resources, we’ve made it a priority over the past decade to keep conference attendance costs very low (anyone can attend for under $100). I’ve looked and asked around, and there is simply no other national conference experience that provides the same level of value (multiple days, main stage sessions, 40+ workshop tracks, 150+ workshops, 150+ speakers, and 10+ pre-conference options, etc.).
I can easily say that 2016 has been a year of true significance. As the church multiplication conversation continues and as we start to transition our theme from 2016’s Becoming 5 to 2017’s Dream Big: Pathways to Multiplication, we continue to see God’s favor in this vital conversation—a conversation that continues to drive who Exponential is and what we do.
I hope you’ll take some time to reflect on the blessings of your 2016. The Exponential Team and I are praying that as you look toward 2017, you’ll commit with us to becoming multiplication activists and proactive participants in building His Kingdom.