2023 NEXT30 CONFERENCE
By Dr. Jerry Richardson, St. Andrews, Little Rock
The last 30 years have seen a decline of the church in much of the world and certainly in North America. The Next30 Conference, hosted by St. Andrew’s Church in Little Rock, represented a gathering of leaders who are seeing newly planted churches grow and flourish.
It was a privilege to be with this Kingdom-minded crowd that used the three days to teach, share stories and experiences, discuss and swap lessons learned from years of experience in church planting. The mornings and afternoons were spent with specific insights from seven church planters followed by questions and answers. Breakout groups allowed everyone present to share their experiences and ask more specific questions directed toward the other attendees. The evenings provided a time for worship, prayer and addresses by The Right Reverend Phillip Jones and Brent McHugh, CEO of Christar International, from Malaga, Spain.
The uplifting fellowship with these godly people bursting with enthusiasm for what God is doing was certainly the highlight of the conference for me.
Two takeaways provided a backdrop for the voluminous practical helps and resources.
The first was from Bishop Alan Hawkins who, among his many other positions and responsibilities, served as director of church planting for the ACNA. In at top of his personal “what matters to me most” list is “The planting of a church is not the mission, the mission is God’s movement toward a community. The church is the instrument, not the goal.”
The other bullet point is from Rev. Scott McLucas, the founding pastor of Orchard Hills Church in Roanoke, Virginia. Church planters who are fortunate to receive training under Scott are sure to hear him ask, “Has God called you to plant a church or to reach a city?” This perspective manifests itself in Scott’s leadership in collaborative planting with other churches, residency programs and financial cooperation to fund new works. He urges churches with a Kingdom mindset to think collaboratively rather than competitively.
What a joy to know that God is moving and new communities of faith are being formed.
Dr. Jerry Richardson is a member of St. Andrew’s Church in Little Rock and currently one of the leaders of Anglican Associates, Inc., a residency program for potential church planters. He is a retired dentist who has been active in self-discovery ministry for over 25 years as a certified Process Communication Model trainer.