The Northwest Conference Leader
A Newsletter for Staff Members and Leaders of Northwest Conference Churches
Vital Churches, Planting Churches, Planting Ministries
www.nwc-cov.org

Superintendent
Jim Fretheim

Associate Superintendent
Mark Stromberg

Director of Mission Development
Jon Kramka

Office Administrator
Nicole Stenstrom

The Northwest Conference
3106 47th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55406
info@nwc-cov.org
Introducing the Leadership Forum
One of our primary goals is to provide leadership development opportunities, and as part of that effort we're excited to announce the Northwest Conference Leadership Forum Series, and its two inaugural events that we hope you can attend and that we believe can have a significant impact in your church.

On Saturday, February 26th, Leith Anderson of Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota will present a seminar at Faith Covenant Church in Burnsville, Minnesota. The theme will be Church and Culture, and will focus on how the church can relate to contemporary society from a kingdom perspective. Leith is a nationally known speaker and author on church growth and change and his books include Dying for Change, A Church for the 21st Century, and Leadership that Works.

And on April 5th, we will welcome Lyle Schaller, also a nationally known expert on church dynamics and health. Christianity Today has called him "the master technician of church mechanics." His books include What Have We Learned?: Lessons for the Church in the Twenty-First Century, and 44 Questions for Congregational Self-Appraisal.

These events are open to Conference church staff members and leaders, that is, you. And we are making these available free of charge. While the events are free, we do need you to call or click here to email the Conference office to register.

Church Planting: A Well-Conceived Project
The Evangelical Covenant Church and the Northwest Conference seek to work with existing local churches in the development of new churches. We believe that this is a normal part of ministry expansion. We also believe that God has created the world in such a way that it is only natural that "like produces like." Therefore, even as the fruit of a disciple is a new disciple and the fruit of a small group is another small group…so is the fruit of a church another church. This is God's economy of multiplication; it is why the early church grew rapidly. They were not merely adding a member here and a member there…they were adding at an explosive rate due to the birthing of new churches. Thus, the planting of new churches within the Northwest Conference has become a priority over the past decade.

How do we plant churches? We seek to plant them organically. This means that the Covenant no longer picks up property ahead of time and then hopes that a group will emerge in the future to occupy the spot. Rather we look for certain variables to line up in such a way that the possibilities for a new church become self evident. When these variables come in to view, we begin to describe this as having the potential to become a "well conceived project."

What are these variables? I thought it might be helpful to you as leaders to know what they are. It may also help you determine if there is a part for your church to play in the days ahead.

1. THE RIGHT CHURCH PLANTER- Leadership is the key. Without a pastoral leader with the right subset of ministry gifts, a thriving church plant is highly unlikely. Ideally, the church planter possesses the gifts of leadership, vision, preaching, and the ability to gather people. We tell our church planters that in order to be effective they must "preach well, lead well, and care well." We cannot over emphasize the importance of the right church planter in the process.

2. THE RIGHT CORE GROUP- We also understand the need for a committed group of people to come alongside the pastor. It is best when this group exhibits the broad range of gifts needed in every church. It is also important that the people comprising the core group be unified in the direction the new church is to go. If people come in to a new church and begin to resist the vision and direction, the church will flounder and fail because it does not have the capacity to absorb as much conflict as some existing churches do. It is also important that the core group members are there out of a sense of call, rather than leaving the former church out of frustration and anger. If the people in a new church are primarily there as a negative reaction to a past church experience, this frustration tends to poison the new group dynamic.

3. THE RIGHT PARENT/PARTNERS- Experience has shown that churches that are actively supported and encouraged by other local churches seem to do far better than the ones that are viewed with suspicion and resentment. Other Covenant churches can come alongside a new church and provide prayer support, volunteers, finances, and relationships. This not only strengthens the new work, but it usually energizes the existing church as it extends beyond its own doors.

4. THE RIGHT TRAINING AND MENTORING- The Covenant and the Northwest Conference provide the following for a new church planter: Church Planter Assessment Center, Church Planter (and lay leader) Training Conferences, Church Planter Connection at the Covenant Midwinter Conference in February, ongoing mentoring relationships with Northwest Conference staff.

5. THE RIGHT FUNDING- There is a three way funding stream for new Covenant Churches. The funding partners include the Covenant Department of Church Growth and Evangelism, the Northwest Conference, and the local church(es) involved in the project. This funding provides a three year predictable funding schedule that is used to augment what is given by way of tithes and offerings from the core group and new attendees of the church plant.

Certainly without the hand of Almighty God, our planning and preparation will not lead to changed lives. And yet, He allows us the opportunity to play a part in His work on earth. We believe we are acting obediently when we do the best we can to develop a well conceived project, knowing that the Holy Spirit is what is ultimately needed to expand the Kingdom of God.

May we be faithful to do our part in this Holy work.

Youth Pastors Connection
The next NWC Youth Pastor's Connection Meeting:
February 17
Northwest Conference Office



For those attending the Midwinter Youth Workers Connection in Chicago on Jan. 29- 31 at the Hyatt- OHare: Plan to join NWC youth workers for an ice cream social on Sunday, January 30th following evening worship in the back section of the Garden Terrace Restaurant.

Midwinter Invitation
The Office of Compassion and Justice Ministries would like to invite any participants of the 2005 Midwinter Conference who are involved with prison or jail ministries to a luncheon on Wednesday, February 2. We are looking to hear from each other about what God is doing in our different ministries and possibly brainstorm what more we might do together. If you or someone in your church is involved in prison ministry and will be at Midwinter, join us at noon on Wednesday by the Midwinter registration desk at the hotel and enjoy a free lunch with others who share a similar passion. If possible please RSVP with Max Lopez-Cepero at MALopezCepero@CovenantBenevolence.org.

A Note About Links and Resources
In this newsletter we try to provide links and resources to you that reflect insightful thinking in the area of church leadership. We want to inform, challenge, inspire, educate, and sometimes even entertain. We attempt to link to sites that are "safe" and consistent with the values and the faith that we share and we try to verify that there is no offensive material. But the nature of the Internet is dynamic, and sites can change from moment to moment. We also may completely overlook something that you might find offensive. Please be assured that this is not our intent.

Help for the Helpers Event Returns This Week
Are you a Pastor, Care Minister, Youth Pastor, Men's or Women's Ministry Leader, Counselor or Parish Nurse? This conference is for you! Back by popular demand...Help+ For the Helpers Conference, a Christian Addiction Resource Conference, sponsored by Metro Hope Ministries, KTIS and North Heights Lutheran Church will be on Saturday, January 29th at North Heights Lutheran Church, in Arden Hills, MN. International Speaker and Author Neil Anderson will again be the keynote speaker with 20 workshops led by local Christian addiction recovery leaders. To view workshop choices and to register, go to wwwmetrohope.org.

January, 2005

Volume II, Number One





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