A few weeks ago Chris and Stephanie Gilbert spent the night at our house. They are currently planting Vertical Church in Indianapolis, Indiana. They were on their way to Winterfest in Branson, Missouri and stopped over for a visit. All evening, they talked about their church plant with enthusiasm. It was obviously all they could think about. The thing that impressed me the most was how informed they were about what is happening in America among church planters. They have personally talked with many of these planters, read books about them and have attended many church planting seminars and conferences.
There are many church plants that fail, but there are also many that succeed and go far beyond anyone's wildest dreams. We talked about the Church of the Highlands, in Birmingham, Alabama, which is currently the fastest growing church in the country. We talked about Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina that grew to over six thousand in five years. He was full of stats, names, locations and success stories.
That's how you plant a church successfully. They have taken the time to gather their resources, educate themselves, put together a strategic plan and most of all, avoid the pitfalls.
A couple of years ago, I was having a conversation with Jentzen Franklin during a break at a board meeting. We were talking about the incredible growth in the Kingdom of God right now. I must admit, I was in a "stuck" place at the time and said to him, "I just can't seem to find any good conferences to attend for a church in my attendance category." He replied, in his humble way, "Oh, but Bryan, there are so many of them." He listed several conferences that he attends every year just to keep his skills sharp as a pastor of one of the countries' leading mega churches. I wrote down the names and have already attended some of those conferences. He was right! Each time I go, I come back motivated, informed, inspired and excited about ministry.
Pastors who fail to go to seminars and conferences or don't read books on church growth, can easily get stuck in a rut. They often blame their lack of reaching the harvest on their facility, location, small town or unmotivated people. The truth is, most of them have a church in their town that is growing and reaching the community. The difference in success and failure is often found in the space between our ears. Unless we stay informed on what is working in our society now, we can easily hide in the church of yesterday and die a slow death.
I want to encourage every pastor to invest in yourself and your ministry. The cost of going to a cutting edge conference, diagnostic clinic or seminar is often less money than having a guest speaker in for a weekend. These conferences will motivate and inspire you. They will send you back home charged up and excited about kingdom work.
[by Pastor Bryan Cutshall]