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Fasten your seat belt – thoughts on Exponential 2016

May 23, 2016

By Christine Kumar*

This is part of a series of articles on Exponential 2016. View the other articles here.

BWC staff Jo Chesson, Olivia Gross and Christine Kumar at Exponential 2016.
BWC staff Jo Chesson, Olivia Gross and Christine Kumar at Exponential 2016.

After fumbling to get my seat belt fastened on the plane, I was ready to go to Orlando, Florida, to attend the Exponential Conference at First Baptist Church. My colleagues, Olivia Gross, Melissa Lauber and Erik Alsgaard, were on the same early morning flight.

At the conference, the music was lively, plenary speakers were exceptional and I filled my notebook with handwritten notes from the workshops attended. This conference was primarily for church planters, but not all the content dealt with church planting.

There were workshops on mission, evangelism, social media applications and discipleship. I work as the district administrator for the Baltimore Metropolitan district and attend Liberty Grove UMC in Burtonsville. I am grateful for the opportunity to attend the conference. I believe that we are called to be the Body of Christ and each one of us can make a difference in this world. In fact, we are all called to be and make disciples for Christ.

Exponential’s theme was “5IVE” (FIVE), which is a challenge and goal for pastors and leaders to reach a level five church, which is a multiplying church. Some of the points that spoke to my heart were:

  • True discipleship is not about egos or our agendas; it’s about Kingdom building.
  • We work collectively to build God’s Kingdom. Ryan Kwon, one of the keynote speakers, said, “The family wins together and the family loses together.” Again, it’s not about us.
  • You never know how your works can impact the life of others. Keynote speaker Ralph Moore said that if we didn’t have Barnabas, we wouldn’t have Paul. Barnabas was instrumental in encouraging Paul while others doubted Paul’s conversion. (Acts 9:26-30)
  • We must have a sense of urgency for Jesus, said Ajai Lall, church planter from India.
  • Matt Chandler, pastor of Village Church, urged the 5,000 men and women to look to places where the wind blows; that we can’t control the wind.  He gave everyone a reality check by saying that we are not the good news, we are here to bring the good news.
  • When you trust God, there is no need to verify, said Cynthia Marshall, a top executive at AT&T.
  • Mark Batterson spoke about taking risks and not to let the budget determine your vision. God gives provisions, Batterson said.

As I think about taking risks, it seems fitting that the conference was in Orlando, the place where millions of people from around the world visit Disney World. What if Walt Disney didn’t take risks? What if he didn’t have the sense of urgency to create so that people will be intrigued, inspired and look for hidden Mickey’s? What if he didn’t work collectively with so many artists and technical savvy people? Suppose he resisted the wind? Maybe there was a Barnabas in his life who encouraged him.

I was surprised to read that Disney was fired as a reporter from the Kansas City Star newspaper for his “lack of creativity.” Years later, the Disney Company bought ABC which owned the Kansas City Star.

We all fail at something or another, even in our church. We have to get back up, fasten our seat belts, and “Dream Big,” which is next year’s Exponential theme. Disney dreamed big and so can we, the church. Whether we are flipping burgers or leading a congregation, we all have a part in building God’s Kingdom.

*Christine Kumar is the district administrator for the Baltimore Metropolitan District. 

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