Last week the Mission Alive staff attended the Exponential Conference, the largest gathering of church planters in the world. Every April over 5000 church planters gather in Orlando, Florida, to think, pray, worship, learn and grow. If you are a church planter or church planting ministry like Mission Alive, it is THE place to be.
This year the conference theme was “Sifted,” taken from Jesus’ words of warning to the apostle Peter in Luke 22:31-32:
31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
In each session speakers and couples took the stage to testify how Satan had sifted them. They spoke with surprising honesty and vulnerability, something not usually seen at conferences like these. Some confessed to pornography, others to adultery, others to ignoring their families while they poured all their time and effort into their ministry. Darrin Patrick, church planter of The Journey church in St. Louis challenged church planters not to walk away from their calling at the first significant challenge. He said, “If we are going to talk about [our] calling, we are going to have to talk about faith.”
Each speaker exhorted the audience to have courage, perseverance, integrity, deep dependence upon God, obedience, and much hope.
The final session focused on healthy rhythms and boundaries for church planters and their families. Dave Ferguson interviewed Bill Hybels, his wife and two adult children about how they maintained a healthy family as they ministered. Amidst his many wise thoughts Hybels said, “In ministry you’re going to disappoint someone. Try not to make it your kids.” Great advice for every Christian trying to live by faith and raise a family in the midst of such busy lives!
Most church planters and church leaders understand the importance of personal development, soul care and family care, yet these are often lost in the frenetic activity of church leadership which results in a life and family unprepared for the inevitable sifting.
Jesus’ words of warning to Peter echo far and wide throughout Christian history. Satan has indeed sifted many missionaries, church planters, ministers and preachers. Today we can be sure that he is preparing to sift a new generation of Christ’s servants.
Join us in praying for God’s blessing and protection on Mission Alive church planters on the front line of the Kingdom of God. If you would like to join our Prayer Team and receive weekly prayer updates, contact Holly at email@example.com to be added to the prayer list.
Mission Alive-Director of Equipping