Around 60 church leaders and planters gathered on Saturday 12 Feb 2022 in Birmingham for the Exponential Conference. Hosted by Engage West Midlands, we heard a mix of stories and speakers from across Europe alongside local leaders from Birmingham and the Black Country. A central challenge came from Øivind Augland from Norway.
We understand the Great Commission – to GO… (or ‘as we are going’…) make disciples. We have perhaps rediscovered the Great Commandment – to LOVE – both God and our neighbours – the holistic nature of the gospel to transform both the social and spiritual aspects of our cities and neighbourhoods. But we are only just beginning to rediscover what might be termed the ‘Great Collaboration’ – to go and to love TOGETHER - from Jesus’ prayer in John 17 ‘that we be one’.
Sharing some principles from their book ‘Together - Equip to Multiply’ Øivind taught on different levels of co-operation. He pointed out that we can ‘compete’, ‘co-exist’, ‘communicate, ‘co-operate’ or ‘collaborate’ together.
Each of these stages has associated habits, barriers to overcome, steps for growth, the need for an aspect of Gospel power, and some helpful practices for moving forwards.
** Read a book
We then gathered around tables in groups, discussing what level people felt they were on.
What level are you on?
What steps forward can you take? – to see multiplication happen across your town, city, region?
Jonathan Bell, a local Birmingham church leader and planter, shared honestly about his own journey from ‘Competition to Compassion’; from ‘Judgement to Generosity’; and from ‘Pride to Humility’. Greg Ellis, 20 years a missionary and church planter in a challenging country, now based in Stourbridge, reflected powerfully on how ‘Two are Better than One’, and how they have sought to work together with others in disciple making, and the importance of Culture v Climate for a team to work well.