Ignite 2016: Take Your Church Viral

By Allison Hurtado

For one last time, 352 people gathered at Ignite. Beginning this April, our church planting gathering will join with Exponential. The 2016 church planting-focused conference event, hosted by Sun Valley Community Church, Gilbert, Arizona, March 1-3, centered on taking churches viral. 

Planting churches is no longer enough–learning how to multiply is the key to success. Heartland Church founding pastor Darryn Scheske kicked off the first night with a reminder of four things often forgotten when leaders are in the thick of ministry. He said have holiness in your mind, the right relationships over your heart, rest in your soul and always praise in your spirit. 

“Those four things are how you can make sound decisions. The anointing of God will come over your hearts and will provide you with the courage and confidence to do what God has called you to do,” Scheske said. 

Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research, started the next morning off with Luke 10:1-16. Although the Bible doesn’t explicitly say to plant churches, Stetzer addressed the evidence that implies we are called to plant churches. 

“The Bible is a book about church planting,” he said. “The story of the gospel itself is Christ receiving new life [resurrection]. Then in the Book of Acts we see churches being planted and letters written to churches on how to figure out theology.”

He told the crowd to plant a church is to have real faith. Once God calls you, you do what he says, even when it doesn’t make sense. Additional points from Stetzer: Bless the community, build relationships and settle in, meet needs, serve people and announce the kingdom. 

“Fix the mistakes we’ve made,” he concluded. “Listen well. Listen to Lee Stephenson and what Converge is doing well. This will be the hardest thing you do. Listen to the words of Jesus, follow the way of Jesus and don’t expect anything else without obedience to Jesus.” 

With over 44 workshops, attendees had the opportunity to dig deeper into topics such as planting in an urban community, challenges facing church planters wives and how to make evangelism everyone’s job. All sessions were well attended. 

David Clark, dean of Bethel Seminary, led the discussion on homosexuality and the church.  “We want to present humbly and beautifully what it means to be a human being in all dimensions,” Clark said. “All people struggle in the area of sexuality.”

Lee Stephenson, Converge Church Planting executive director, wrapped up the second day of Ignite, focusing on Luke 5:1-11. Stephenson talked about how Peter had faith that Jesus would bring in the fish when he asked his disciples to fish differently. 

“What is countercultural to our world seems counterproductive, but remember that Jesus is asking us to do things differently,” Stephenson said. “The time to follow Jesus is always now.” 

Albert Tate, founding pastor of Fellowship Monrovia (Calif.), talked about gazing up at God and the complications this can have in ministry. In Acts 1:4, as Jesus ascends to heaven, his disciples gaze up for so long an angel comes to awaken them from their stupor. Tate says we can spend so much time in meetings, strategy sessions and prayer that we get stuck gazing and forget the doing. 

“If you’re waiting for answers and clarity, you won’t get it,” Tate said. “The learning comes in the doing. If you can see the answer, then you don’t need faith.” 

He warned that many pastors are caught up in numbers and can be married to their ministry instead of being married to the mission. He said always date your mission. 

“It’s time to stop gazing, get some urgency and, with flexibility, go on a thankful mission where we say, ‘God, here I am. I am ready to do the work at your will,’” Tate said. 

Ignite 16 was the final Ignite event Converge will host, joining with Exponential beginning next year. At both east and west conferences there will be a Converge pre-conference event for our leaders. Learn more about the big change at converge.org/exponential. 

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Church Planting, Ignite 2016, Allison Hurtado