Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Transform MidAtlantic Leadership Conference Recap

Grace Point - Our Host Church
“Transform MidAtlantic”, our Converge MidAtlantic Leadership Conference for 2013 is behind us, but the impact of this gathering will remain for months and years to come!  God’s Spirit moved in very clear and powerful ways at Grace Point in Newtown, PA, June 19-21 as leaders from across our MidAtlantic region gathered together for an incredible experience!

180 pastors and leaders from 55 churches came together.  The weather was beautiful!  The hospitality from Grace Point was over the top!  The worship was powerful and inspirational.  The food and
Converge Cup Golf Event
fellowship was absolutely amazing!  The learning that took place in the Breakouts and Plenary sessions was outstanding! But most importantly, God moved in our midst, and for that we are most grateful.

Seeing powerful stories of transformation was moving and very encouraging; stories of physical and spiritual healing, stories of deliverance from addictions, stories of churches growing rapidly before our very eyes, stories of lives and marriages being transformed on a professional football team.  All of these and more, spoke of God’s
Shane Claiborne "The Simple Way"
power to change lives and communities all around us!

Hearing the proclamation of God’s Word through Dr. Eric Mason as he spoke on how the Gospel is incarnated through our pain and suffering, was very moving.  Hearing Dr. Dwight Perry teach about embracing diversity and the hard work that this involves, was needed and helpful.  Hearing Shane Claiborne, in his simple and disarming style challenge us powerfully to live out the gospel in ways and places where it is countercultural and involves resistance from the status quo, was so motivating and convicting.  Hearing Dr. Tom Nebel, share the
Philadelphia Vietnamese
Christian Fellowship
vision of Converge church planting for “one more day, one more place, one more story” knowing that the deserts in our journey cannot and will not hold back the work of Christ, was so encouraging.  And hearing Pastor Scott Ridout challenge us to live out generosity in concrete ways in our personal lives and as churches, was so timely and helpful.  Yes, through these servants, God spoke and moved in our midst.

Feedback from many of the Breakout sessions was very positive! Nearly 80 leaders traveled into the urban areas of Philadelphia on Friday morning to learn about and experience ministry in very hard and very needy places.  Coz Crosscombe, Eric Mason and his team, and Shane Claiborne at the Simple Way community, all shared how
Traveling to Urban Philadelphia
transformation is happening in these places through God’s Spirit residing in His people.  On-site Breakouts were amazing as well, including Pastor Ron Crawford and Richard Cohen’s session regarding “Homosexuality: Born or Bred”.  Participants were moved to tears and filled with emotion as they were encountered with the challenge to love people in the name of Jesus, and to see again how God transforms people in powerful ways. 

Other sessions that many spoke about included: Pastor Jenkins’ session on “Making Pastoring Personal”, Dan Nold’s session on
A Master Potter
Symbol of Transformation
“Multi-site expansion”, Johnny Parker’s session on “How to Manage the Speed of Your Soul”, Dr. Doug Fagerstrom’s session on “Building Extraordinary Volunteers”, Pastor Chris McCloskey’s session on “Developing Caring Ministries in the church”, Dan and Tonya White’s session on “Missional church”, Dr. Ralph Gustafson’s session on “Reaching Millennials”, to mention but a few.

Three Pre-Conference sessions were also well attended and were very instructive!  Ivan and Susan Veldhuizen interacted with global mission leaders from some of our MidAtlantic churches, resourcing them and providing a venue for these leaders to share best practices together.  Scott Ridout taught for 6 hours on how to build a generosity culture in the local church.  And Tom Nebel offered training on how to effectively coach other leaders, helping them to
succeed and to excel in their leadership and ministries.

Other highlights of God moving in our midst and in our region included:

·        The welcoming of 6 churches into the MidAtlantic network
·        Introducing and praying for 5 new church planting couples who have been sent out this past year
·        The unanimous reaffirmation of our Converge MidAtlantic Executive Minister for an additional 4 year term
·        The public introduction of a new vision for church planting across our region, called “Shaping the Future”, and a report that $162,000 has already been committed toward our goal of $500,000 in new funds for church planting over the next three years!
·        Stories of significant spiritual transformation in Ukraine through 10 plus years of partnering with our Ukrainian brothers and sisters
·        The celebration of God’s provision for Converge MidAtlantic ministries this past year, and the adoption of combined budgets for the coming year totaling $880,000.
·        Opportunities to hear of God working through some of our partners such as Bethel University and Seminary, Cornerstone Fund, and across Converge Worldwide.

In the end, it seems as though God is challenging our leaders and churches to remain open to the work of the Spirit in our midst.  And God is challenging us to continue to find ways to be his vessels to bring about transformation in every community he calls us to serve. I love Paul’s words in II Cor. 3, where he says: “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit”.

Brothers in Christ
May God’s work of transformation continue in each of us in the days ahead!

Warmly in Christ,

Dan Peterson, Executive Minister
Converge MidAtlantic