The Exponential Conference, also known as the National New Church Conference, is the largest gathering of church planters in the US. I was able to attend last week, in Orlando FL, with three guys from Mountain View Fellowship, one of the church plants I helped get off the ground.
(Mountain View Fellowship, located in Heber City, UT is a daughter church of Mountain Life Evangelical Free Church in Park City, UT. I worked closely with the mother church staff and the original church planting team to help them establish a process for planting and to help them find a planter.)
Three great benefits come from attending a conference like this. First, my vision gets kindled by hearing successful church planting leaders share how they are pursuing their vision. Francis Chan, Craig Groeschel, and Erwin McManus all gave inspiring messages. Second, its a great place to meet people and catch up with old friends. For example, Steve Pike used to be a pastor and planter in Ogden, UT several years ago. He is now the director of church planting for the Assemblies of God. We had a chance to talk about old times. Third, I get to keep abreast of new resources that are available to help church planters succeed.
As far as I can tell, there were 9 of us from Utah. Along with myself and theh three guys from Heber City, we met a guy who is on the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ in Logan, a young couple who are transitioning from the staff of a large Utah church and looking for what might be the next step, and two guys from a church in West Jordan: the pastor and his church planting intern.
I also was able to meet with my team from Zondervan: my editor, Paul Engle, and Andrew Rogers, who leads the marketing for my book. They had some great ideas about how to spread the word about the book, and I was able to present my idea for a next book. Zondervan had a booth at Exponential and they had my book for sale. That’s how I met some of the other Utah people.
All in all, a very productive and enjoyable trip!