Church leaders gather for Send Network event

By Lorri Paetz | Mar 29, 2021

On March 17, Christ Church in Gilbert hosted a Send Network Gathering for 130 church planters and team members, prospective planters and sending/supporting church pastors and their staff.

Adam Bailie, pastor of Christ Church, began the gathering with a challenge from Matthew 9:35-38. When the enormity of the task of harvesting is upon us, we need to kneel first before we begin the harvest, he said.

Bailie’s big idea: “Kingdom harvesters pray!” Why? 1. The return of Jesus is near (vs. 35); 2. The heart of Jesus is known to us (vs 36); 3. The promise of Jesus is with us (vs. 37); and, 4. The command of Jesus is a necessity for us (vs. 39).

Bailie summarized his message with three “Learning to Live” imperatives:

–Missional urgency demands cultivation.

–Personal pluralism breeds distraction — singular focus must be Christ.

–Spiritual desperation generates action.

Following a lunch break, the conference resumed with two breakout sessions. Jackie Allen, lead pastor of Cross Church in Surprise, conducted a panel discussion with his staff on the “6 S’s for Church Growth”: 1. Structure; 2. Strategy; 3. Systems; 4. Stories; 5 Services; and 6. Sermons.

Allen reminded and challenged those in attendance that everything about your church needs to be done with excellence.

Jeremiah Semmler, lead pastor of CityView Church in Glendale, shared the experience of his church in reaching their neighbors through effective community engagement. CityView’s template is: 1. Identify the problem — live in a community full of lost, hurting, broken people — how do we reach them?; 2. Ask questions — identify the uniqueness of your community; 3. Come up with a plan — filtered through your church’s mission and vision; 4. Execute the plan and then debrief.

Noe Garcia, senior pastor of North Phoenix Baptist Church, concluded the gathering by reminding attendees that being a pastor is a “painful privilege because you are dealing with human hearts.” Pastors, and their spouses, as the leaders of their church, carry much on their shoulders.

Using the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13, Garcia said in today’s world, the sower represents the pastor or one sharing the gospel message, which is the seed. The soil represents the one hearing, or the human heart. A pastor is not responsible for the soil, as only Jesus can transform the human heart.

Too often, messages are culturally relevant yet Biblically irrelevant, he said. Pastors must stay true to sharing God’s Word. Garcia reminded pastors the only power they have is the presence of God in leading their ministry and their church.

Jesse Powell, North American Mission Board church planting catalyst in Phoenix, summarized the day.

“This event gave us an opportunity to gather as a local Send Network family for the first time since before COVID,” he said. “After a year of facing unique challenges, it was good to be together and be reminded of the importance of prayer, engaging our communities and sharing the good news of Jesus. It was encouraging to spend the day with pastors and ministry leaders from all over Arizona and celebrate what God is doing in our churches, and look forward to the future.”

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