Exponential: accelerating multiplication
Posted on July 5, 2012 by VMMissions Staff
Exponential Conference has become a significant conference of leaders and practitioners engaged in God’s work of planting churches.
Held annually in Orlando, Florida, this year’s conference included 5,000 people, with 24 persons attending through Virginia Mennonite Missions. It has become one tool that VMMissions has used to foster church planting vision, provide access to ideas and practices, and create settings where church planters can mutually encourage one another. With nearly 60 Mennonites in attendance from six Mennonite Church USA conferences, it continues to be a place where we come together to engage with the broader movement of God’s mission in our North American context. I was particularly struck by the vitality and youthfulness of the Exponential movement. The “aging of the church” does not seem to apply at Exponential!
Exponential’s vision is to see an expanding number of healthy reproducing faith communities. Its mission is “equipping movement makers with actionable principles, ideas and solutions for the accelerated multiplication of healthy, reproducing faith communities.” Exponential draws on the wealth of missiological reflection and missional church resources by bringing them to bear on our own “mission field” of North America. Application can readily be made more broadly as well and this year three leaders from our partner churches in Trinidad were in attendance.
Exponential is less about church growth as addition, than fostering movements that multiply. It is less about the salvation of individuals than about calling disciples who instinctively multiply. It is less about great programs than calling persons into relationships, with God and with others. Repeatedly we were reminded that “living things reproduce what they are, and cannot reproduce what they are not.” This year’s theme “Sifted” reminded us of this reality through the stories of brokenness, testing, failure, and also redemption and wholeness.
Exponential fits well with the Purposeful Plan of the Mennonite Church, specifically the priorities of Holistic Witness, Leadership Development, and Church to Church Relationships. Next year’s Exponential theme will be especially relevant to Mennonites as it focuses on five major shifts in discipleship. The conference theme, DiscipleShift, names these as, “from reaching to making, from educating to modeling, from program to purpose, from activity to relationship, and from accumulating to deploying.”
Skip Tobin, USA Ministries Director for VMMissions, is already planning for a group to again attend from VMMissions and Virginia Mennonite Conference. With the availability of significant discounts if registering through Skip, a theme may also be “from costly to economical.” We Mennonites like that theme too!