What does it look like to be a Level 5 multiplying church, and how do we become one?
Those two questions permeated the recent Exponential East conference in Orlando, Florida, as more than 5,000 church planters gathered to learn and connect with like-minded leaders around the conference’s “Becoming Five” theme. At the end of the four days, thousands of leaders walked away inspired and motivated to ponder and strategically work out how their church can lead and be part of a movement of multiplication.
As church planting resident Joel Pazmino captured in a recent blog post about his Exponential takeaways, his “aha” moment after Dave Ferguson spoke: “… up until then, I never thought [moving the needle on church multiplication] was my responsibility. … The goal, the dream Dave Ferguson has [to see the percentage of multiplying and reproducing U.S. churches move from 4 percent to 10 percent] is my dream, too. I have a part to play.”
“That goal, that dream Dave Ferguson has, is my dream too now. I have a part to play.” – Joel Pazmino
Catching (and Owning) the Vision
Pazmino isn’t alone in his discovery and resolve to multiply. Determined to transform concept into reality, leaders who attended East are now making plans to activate that vision with their teams. Exponential recently talked to several leaders that are bringing their staff and other key leaders with them to the upcoming Exponential Regional conferences this fall in Washington, D.C. (Sept. 12-13) and Chicago (Nov. 15-16).
The new conferences are two-day events designed to bring the full impact of the main stage from the Exponential East and West conferences closer to home—giving more church leaders the opportunity to experience Exponential live!
“We have recently made the decision to become a Level 5 multiplying church,” says Reed DeVries, a pastor at Celebrate Community Church. The Sioux Falls, South Dakota, church brought 12 potential planters to East and plans to bring many more team members to the Chicago Regional.
“While we hoped to receive strategies and technique (which we did), what overwhelmed us was seeing and hearing the heart of a multiplying leader and church. Vision is not taught; it’s caught. We caught the vision of Level 5, and we’re not going back.”
“Vision is not taught; it’s caught. We caught the vision of Level 5, and we’re not going back.” – Reed DeVries
The opportunity to be surrounded by people with like-minded spirits and hearts to reach others motivated Lee Reams, pastor of five-month-old Compass Community Church, to register his team of leaders for the Washington, D.C., Regional. He believes they’ll bring a total of 20 people to the gathering.
“I knew we needed to include everyone in this experience,” Reams says, adding that he believes the event will help bond his team (many of whom are new believers) and open their eyes to new ideas and wisdom from seasoned leaders.
Becoming a church that multiplies is a goal for Compass, Reams says. “Even though we’re young, we still need to multiply. I know there are people on our team that we’ll be sending out to plant a church. I think the Regional will be a catalyst for our church’s future.”
“I know there are people on our team that we’ll be sending out to plant a church. I think the Regional will be a catalyst for our church’s future.” – Lee Reams
For Crossroads UM Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Washington, D.C., Regional is also a welcomed opportunity to bring a group of 20, where “we can all drink from the same fountain,” says Founding and Lead Pastor Steve Cordle. The church has intentionally made the decision to become a multiplying church, budgeting and staffing in that direction. Cordle is even working on a non-profit ministry called A18movement.org that will focus on church multiplication. Still, he is bent on seeing his church cultivate a heart for it.
“I don’t want multiplication to be seen as something only I do, or ‘my thing’” he says, adding that he read Becoming a Level 5 Multiplying Church last year and began to sense God leading him to center on multiplication. “We want to make sure everyone has this mindset and is owning this vision, so we’re bringing our staff and a few key lay leaders to the Regional. We think a firsthand experience is better than me just trying to communicate my experience.”
“We want to make sure everyone has this mindset and is owning this vision, so we’re bringing our staff and a few key lay leaders to the Regional.” – Steve Cordle
The Washington, D.C., Regional is also strategically located for 300-year-old Faith Community Church in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, near Boston. Pastor Mike Laurence was struck by the “Becoming Five” vision he and two of his leaders experienced at Exponential East, quickly realizing that Exponential’s content aligns with the church’s new vision initiative he rolled out this spring.
“I’ve been to a number of conferences, and I haven’t felt this invigorated in 10 years,” Laurence said, “so I came back saying I wanted a group of us to go to the regional event to learn in the environment where they will receive it the best and connect with people who have the same passion.”
“I came back saying I wanted a group of us to go to the regional event to learn in the environment where they will receive it the best and connect with people who have the same passion.” – Mike Laurence
Laurence was especially encouraged to see violinist Ellen Story from the Exponential worship band on stage. Story started in worship at Faith Community. “Here I am in the balcony of First Baptist Church, and I see this young, talented girl takes the stage,” Laurence recalls. “Seeing her was an affirmation that we’re going in the right direction.”
Exponential East and the Chicago Regional are also providential for Steve Waggoner, founding and lead pastor of Crosswalk Fellowship in rural Illinois. Waggoner went to Exponential, praying for answers.
“Multiplication has been on my heart for a long time,” he says. “God has given us a vision to be part of a church planting movement and has put on our hearts to bring in church planting residents. But I was wrestling with future direction for my family and me. I was asking, ‘Are we going to be a bow where things launch from, or was God calling our family somewhere else to be another arrow?’”
Waggoner came back fired up, ready to lead the church in its vision to stay small and nimble, multiplying every two years and planting churches that will also multiply every two years.
“’God’s done a whole big culture change in our church in the past year,” he explains. ‘Becoming 5’ is God’s timing for us. He has given us the vision, the culture and the core values for multiplication. Our whole team is coming to the Regional to learn about developing a church-planting residency and be sharpened overall.
For 18-month-old Wesleyan plant Tribes Church in Rockford, Michigan, the Chicago Regional offers a cost-effective and innovative way to help the team capture the multiplication vision that three of the church’s leaders caught at Exponential East.
“Before we went to the conference, we certainly believed in multiplication in theory,” says Co-Lead Pastor Dawn Scott Damon, “but at the conference we actually had revelation that this is a mandate from God. We have to be multiplying. Exponential was a great ‘kick in the pants’ for us.”
The Tribes team came back and re-prioritized their list of future goals for the church, putting “multiplication” and “pouring into next-generation leaders” on front burners.
“We don’t want to just be talking about multiplication and our experience,” says Damon, adding that while the Regional is definitely a financial investment for the young but growing church, she believes it will position them for the future. “Dreams were awakened in the Exponential culture and environment,” Scott says. “If our team can capture this vision at the Regional, we feel like we can multiply not only our church but ourselves. And if this doesn’t fire someone up, maybe we realize we don’t share the same DNA. So this will also be a good way to make sure everyone’s on the same page as we move forward.”
Tribes Church plans to take 15 to 20 people, including their worship team, pastoral intern and other key leaders. “We could never have taken that many people to Orlando,” Damon says. “This Chicago Regional makes it really doable for us in a way that allows everyone to take hold of what we discovered and learned at Exponential.”
“This Chicago Regional makes it really doable for us in a way that allows everyone to take hold of what we discovered and learned at Exponential.” – Dawn Scott Damon
Emphasizing the importance of experiencing vision over talking about it, Damon relates a news story she once heard about a group who found a 150-year-old packet of heirloom tomato seeds. The group wondered if the ancient seeds would still grow in the right environment. Surprisingly, they did.
“We all have seeds of potential inside us, but in the right culture and environment at Exponential, those seeds took off and grew,” Damon explains. “In the same way, by taking our team to Chicago we’re getting everyone in the right place with the right people for the seeds of multiplication and movement in our people to spring up and multiply.”
Exponential recently announced a new “buy one, get one free” promotion for the Chicago and Washington, D.C., Regional events. With the purchase of five or more registrations, you’ll receive a free registration for every one purchased. (when you buy 5, you get 5 more free; when you buy 10, you get 10 free) To learn more about the Regionals and to register, click here.