Along with at least 60 other people from Mennonite Church USA, I attended the Exponential conference in Orlando, Florida in late April. I was heartened by the thoroughly Anabaptist theme—Disciple Shift. Speakers focused on five shifts that must take place for missional churches to be effective.
- From Reaching [people] to Making [Disciples]
- From Leading to Being Led [by the Spirit]
- From Teaching to Modeling
- From Assimilating [new members] to Creating Community
- From Attracting [people] to Deploying [equipped Christ followers]
The Exponential annual conference is designed primarily for church planters, but there was much for other church leaders who want to become more effective in reaching new communities with the good news of healing and hope brought by Jesus Christ.
The most amazing thing for me is that discipleship—a core value of Anabaptism— is being enthusiastically embraced by missional church thinkers. There were more than 5000 attendees at the conference, with some 20,000 more participating by webcasts online.
I agreed with most of the emphases I heard at the conference, but there is one aspect I would like to see changed. Most of the speakers were white men. There were plenty of women and people of color at the meeting, but they were not the main speakers or workshop leaders. The Exponential conference could increase its effectiveness by inviting women and leaders from other racial/ethnic groups to be speakers. May God enable us all to become better disciples in God’s kingdom.