Today at the Northwest Ministry Network Annual Conference, my lead pastor and myself had the opportunity to share a small part of our multiplication story – of how Maltby Christian Assembly came to be a primary partner to Blue Bridge Church in the Tri-Cities.
Upon further reflection, here are a few key moments from that process:
January 1996: Decision to Follow
I had claimed to be disciple of Jesus for over two years – but had little to no concept of what it meant to be on the mission. I thought that I was saying ‘yes’ to being in vocational pastoral ministry – but really I was committing to go where Jesus told me to go and do what he asked me to do (regardless of personal cost).
June 2002: Youth Ministry
After five years of internships and four years of college, I of course, had everything figured out. It took less than six months for me to realize how little I really knew. Regardless, I had planned out my life – Jana and I would be in youth ministry for ten years and then possibly a lead pastor of a turnaround church (I have this terrible habit of believing if I can plan something then I can be in control of it).
August 2004: Dreams and Discussions
I would meet with friends and discuss “why” and “what” as it relates to Christ and the church. I was intrigued with simple discipleship and mobilizing ministers.
January 2006: Transition
I committed at least five years to Pastor David Brakke. We trusted each other enough to share our dreams for the future with each other. My hope was to honor him by aligning the youth ministry with the local church and his desire was to develop me to be the leader that I was supposed to be. The conversation continued.
January 2009: Masters Program
I began studying at Southeastern University with the intention of learning more about turnaround churches but gradually began to think more about launching a missional community in the Tri-Cities. I was greatly influenced by the works of Alan Hirsch, Thom Rainer, Ed Stetzer, and Leonard Sweet (as well as conversations with Don Detrick, Jeffery Portmann, Dan Serdahl, and John Jay Wilson).
August 2010: Restless Contentment
My lead pastor’s nine-week sabbatical solidified in me the desire to do something – I just did not know what. Honestly, I had a bad case of “Junior-itis.” Just because I wanted to do something did not necessarily mean it was the right time.
July 2011: Pursuit
Conversations occurred with a couple of churches about the possibility of pipelines and partnerships. My lead pastor asked, “Why not give Maltby a chance?” He agreed to send me to Starting Point (a Network workshop designed for church planters). I followed that session up with prayer in the Tri-Cities (once by myself and once with my lead pastor and our spouses). We made our decision in October.
December 2011: Honor the Past and Present
I made appointments with the lead pastors of the six existing churches in the Tri-Cites. My hope has never been to compete with them – but to compliment what they were already doing. Many of these churches were instrumental in my life and family. Though I cannot do all that they ask, I am determined to do all that I can to honor them. I have a lot to learn from several of them – especially in the areas of prayer and leadership. Time and time again, I have been overwhelmed with they support.
February 2012: Public Announcement
We shared with Maltby Christian Assembly the plan and timeline for them to be primary partner with Blue Bridge Church (a relational connection). Our desire is for this multiplication venture to be as much a win for Maltby as it is for Blue Bridge.
Keep in mind that I tend to process things to death… I am a firm believer that anyone interested in church multiplication must first ask two very important questions:
1) Should I plant a church? Not everyone is called to do so. Different people lead different churches to reach different people.
2) When should I plant a church? Just because you want to do so now does not mean that you should do so now.