March 22-24 were days of blessings, challenge and encouragement from the Word of God as we hosted our second tri-annual Leadership Summit at the Ministry Center in Grafton, Ohio. Missionaries from coast to coast, as well as many of our board members and a few special visitors, took part in this intensive training program themed Expect More.

Missionary church planter Jim Mitchell from Thousand Oaks, CA, shared that the greatest blessing received was “good Bible teaching related to where we live as church planters.” Through expository preaching and practical teaching, the speakers shared ways that God helps us be the leaders, shepherds, evangelists and encouragers that He gives us the power to be. The speakers brought messages that showed the power and awesomeness of a God who walks with us through every situation. A study of the book of Titus helped us understand the work and character of the leader, how and what to teach amongst the challenges of a world in chaos, and how to do the good works that bring glory to God.  Scott Greening, church planter in Schaumburg, IL, stated, “Rich V’s sessions on Titus were encouraging and challenging, especially thinking through the expectations related to leadership development and standards for those involved in ‘good works.’”

We were also challenged each day to have an Appreciation for God and to consider the Awesomeness of God and how these affect our personal lives and ministries.  Speakers emphasized the importance of knowing who we are, what we teach, and how it is taught so that we are confident in what we believe.  These will help us stand firm in times of discouragement or trial.

Leadership, Innovation and Flexibility in the Church, along with knowing when to incorporate these things, were part of the ‘sharing of lessons learned’ aspect of the conference.  “Hearing about the Magnificent Seven was the greatest blessing,” James Smith shared.  “I will use this method of evangelistic outreach in my next ministry.  Inviting the people in the two houses to the left of you, the two houses to the right of you, and the three houses in front of you into your home and to your church is a great way to get to know them and to share one’s faith in Christ.”

One of the difficulties in ministry is talking to people when emotions run high. Wisdom is needed when talking through delicate situations. Teaching and illustrations were given on how to find a common purpose and come to a safe resolution during these “Crucial Conversations.”

Each session blended together with the next one as God’s provision in our lives for church planting was developed through the sessions. Orlando Collazo, church planter in Lorain, OH, stated that the greatest challenge received was “from the Word, to continue serving, making disciples, and trusting God to do the ultimate work of saving souls and growing His Church.” Wayne Dale continued that thought with “the need to prepare the people for the need for evangelism and that once it occurs, it will be evident that it is of God.”

The theme was Expect More, and we pray our missionaries got more than they expected and went away energized and refreshed to keep on in their ministries, expecting more as the Lord of the Harvest continues to use them to grow His Church.