Northwest District Winter Retreat
On February 27 and 28 I spoke at a winter retreat for the Northwest District of the Wesleyan Church in Billings, Montana. Several hundred pastors from eight states including Alaska, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington and Wyoming met for a time of spiritual renewal, rejuvenation and inspiration. Lead Pastor Dwight Nash of Sent Church in Plano, Texas also spoke at the retreat
Before it was my turn to present, I shared with District Superintendent Wes Smith that I felt God wanted to do something spiritually in the hearts of the pastors in attendance. This team of pastors had been exposed to church multiplication thinking before, and I believed God was going to use this opportunity to call a number of them to take huge steps of faith in this area.
During my presentation, I told the Lamont Wesleyan Church story of going from a “lake” church to a “river” church. I talked about some of Dirt Roads Network’s ideas about planting regional clusters of churches and bringing multiple churches together to plant a single church. I challenged them not to allow the size of their church or community to stop them from multiplying.
God led me to be very transparent with this group of pastors. I communicated the difficulty of being a “river” church leader in a way I had not yet shared in public. I talked about the personal sacrifices involved, the possibility of being misunderstood and the amount of loss one experiences as a sending leader. I then boldly declared, “It is worth it!”
If you follow me regularly, you know that I am not one who uses altar calls frequently. However, as I finished my last main session with this group, the Holy Spirit lead me to open up the altar. I estimate that at least a third of the pastors came forward and responded to the call of church multiplication. I sensed a remarkable shift in the hearts and minds of those there.
In addition to my messages on the main stage, I also led a workshop with about 30 rural pastors. I shared a strategy for planting rural churches based on Luke 10. I also spent several hours in one-on-one meetings with rural pastors encouraging and praying for them. Rural pastors often feel unappreciated or overlooked at large events like this. I was repeatedly thanked by smaller church pastors for ministering to them and giving them tools they could use in a rural setting—another example of the very real need for Dirt Roads Network’s ministry.
Our relationship with the Northwest District is ongoing as I serve as one of its multiplication directors. It would be my hope and prayer that a number of rural churches are planted in this region of the country. I’m looking forward to seeing what God does in rural Northwest America through these pastors and the people they lead. Thank you to the Northwest District for inviting me to speak—it was an honor and a blessing.