Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Alive and well at Exponential 2008

I arrived in Orlando late Monday morning after a 6:10am flight from Albany to D.C. and then on to Orlando. The time in flight is still kind of hazy due to the fact that I never, never, never get out of bed much before 8am. I was up at 4:00 am and out of the house by 4:30. Arrived at the Albany International just before 5am and by the time I got through security it was 5:35 am. Not much to report there except for a very busy airport for that hour of the morning, and a rather aggressive security person named Myrna who yanked the zipper right off of my carry on bag as she was checking it for contraband and other stuff. Thanks to Myrna I now have no way to zip my bag shut and now it is no longer a secret as to whether I where boxers or briefs. If you want to know, go to Albany International and ask for Myrna at the security check point.
Both flights were on schedule and without incident. I arrived at Orlando International around 11:00am. Made my way to the Budget Rental counter where I was greeted by Eduardo who politely took care of me. he did inform me that they were out of compact cars, which i had reserved months ago, also that they were out of the next class up (sub-compact cars) and that I could either have a luxury car if I wanted to pay twice as much as the compact car would have been, or I could have a Ford F-150 pick-up truck for the same rate as the compact car. I instantly responded by saying, "I'll take it." I made my way to the spot where the truck was parked and was surprised to see not just any pick-up truck, but a brand new, shiny, charcoal gray, 4-wheel drive, king cab F-150 pick-up. As I climbed my way behind the steering wheel of this monster of a truck I started humming that Toby Keith "Built Ford Tough" commercial I had heard many times before.
Thanks to my trusty mapquest driving directions and the fact that I had been here last year, I was able to find everything fairly easily. Grabbed a quick sandwich and Arizona Green Tea at 7-eleven and made it to First Baptist Church of Orlando just ten minutes late for the first pre-conference session. Met up with Brent Foulke, who is exec. director for this year's Exponential conference. Brent, who also serves as head of church planter recruiting for Stadia, is one of my home-boys from Albany, NY. Chatted with Brent briefly and then hightailed it to Henry Chapel for the "7 Moves to Multi-site" session with Dave Ferguson and his staff from CCC Naperville, Illinois. Dave and his staff of leaders and artists shared their wisdom and experience in the realm of multi-site church planting. Community Christian Church has gone from one location to nine campuses, as well as giving birth to Newthing Networks (their church planting entity) and their own, in house, school for the arts. They have been cited by Leadership Network as one of the most influential and innovative church planting networks in the US. I have been watching and gleaning from Dave Ferguson and his team since I first heard about them while attending last year’s Exponential conference.
I have been keeping tabs on Dave Ferguson via his blog and on his church, CCC Naperville, and their Newthing Networks (used to be Newthing Network until they became multiple networks joining together). Dave has quickly become one of my church planting heroes. Dave shared many helpful bits of insight from his church planting journey. However, two things he said were worth the price of admission...two things he said to encourage church planters like me to be better leaders,
  1. Be others centered. That is, focus on loving and serving others the way Christ did.
  2. Be UNSTOPPABLE. That is, if you know at the very core of your being that God has called you to plant His church then pursue it relentlessly and passionately. It must be a hill your willing to die on.