Last August I was part of the turbo training for Network leaders up at 2/42. One of my dreams that came out of that training was gathering church planters all across the Greater Columbus area for relationship, encouragement, to build trust and possibly see collaboration in planting churches. I was so inspired by what I had heard Troy and Dan do in Kansas City and wondered if God might use me to do the same in Columbus.
Once I got back from the training I sent out an e-mail to as many planters as I could think of (approx. 25) inviting them to a monthly gathering. This was my goal as the group got to know each other:
First, to provide a space where relational connections could be made. (Relationship + Trust = Collaboration). It started in September with just a handful of us meeting monthly in a Panera community room. Planters sharing their stories, concerns and joys.
Then, we began to discuss best practices and brought in guest speakers to add value to their ministries.
Finally, a date night that would blow their socks off! Purposely being extravagant to bless, encourage and re-energize them and their teammates.
Three months ago I reached out to the NewThing Catalyst Team to see if one of them might find time to come to Columbus to be a guest speaker at the monthly gathering of planters. Then the idea of this date night for planters came to me and whoever was to come from NewThing would be part of that as well.
On the relational foundation of eight months of gatherings, last Wed. Apr. 6 from 6:00-9:00pm we had our "date night" for church planters their spouses and core leadership teams. 100 people from 14 different churches joi together for this fun and spiritually enriching evenin at one of Columbus' coolest locations for events: The Venue at Dock580
The night was designed to bless, encourage and re-energize those who came by providing an extravagant event that would foster connection.
The night began with couples having their picture taken by a professional photographer as a keepsake for the evening. Then as they entered the Dock580 Venue, a live band filled the air with fun music that set the tone for the night. Once they received a name tag there were hors d'oeuvres and drinks for them to enjoy as they met new planters or caught up with old friends.
I then welcomed everyone, cast vision for our time together and prayed for the meal. I asked that they continue to get to know each other around their tables by telling their individual church planting stories.
Later I introduced my wife Melissa as our first speaker who was to answer the question, "How I survived being married to a church planter". (My mentor, Tyler Flynn suggested the topic and that Melissa be one of the speakers knowing there were so many ladies in the room). Her message was very well received. Then Mark Artrip, pastor of Movement Church in Hilliard gave away some books and a free registration to the Exponential Conference. e also pointed out materials on the tables promoting the One Night Columbus worship event and a few other things. Mark then introduced our next speaker, Patric O'Connell, director of NewThing. H cast great vision for we as planters to reach the city of Columbus for Christ in a spirit of collaboration and unity.
Tyler Flynn, of Mission Columbus, tied the evening together and like a father in the faith, expressed that it is now this generations mission to bring the Gospel to the lost. He asked that everyone pray at their tables in groups of two or three for each other and our city.
By all accounts the evening was a great success! From the food, drinks, entertainment, speakers and location--these church planters were spoiled. I believe a true spirit of unity was created and that the stage is set for God to do something great through these men and women here in Columbus, Ohio.
As we remain humble and teachable but also intentional about the Jesus Mission, I believe many will find their way back to God.