A big milestone has been met in the ministry of The Wesleyan Church (TWC).
Reaching 100 multipliers who are women is reason for celebration, with more than 100 now answering God’s prompting to plant churches/multiply in both the U.S. and Canada. Cathy Bruce, a church planter in New York, is one of the most recent ones to answer God’s call. Bruce belonged to another church denomination but transferred into TWC because of its focus on women being an important part of a multiplication movement.
In 2016, Dr. Anita Eastlack, executive director of Church Multiplication and Discipleship (CMAD) for The Wesleyan Church, began praying and started hosting online video calls to facilitate connections among church planters who were women. “There were just four women on that call. Since the COVID-19 pandemic alone, 14 multipliers who are women have joined the group,” Eastlack said.
Now, church planters/multipliers who are women meet on a monthly phone call with other women who are leading within TWC. The video calls serve to encourage, support and spur each other on as they serve in the trenches of ministry in a variety of roles, especially in the hard days of 2020. Three participants share their stories below.
Pastor Arlynn Ellis (Crossroads Church, San Antonio, Texas)
“I moved to San Antonio, Texas, in 2001 to plant a church alongside my husband, Robert. Crossroads Church is a multiethnic church with a strong Latin flavor and a DNA for missions. In late 2018, we assumed the leadership of a new campus that needed to be replanted and relaunched a church in New Braunfels.
“In 2016, I founded a nonprofit organization focused on serving the underserved community in San Antonio and South Texas. Acts of Hope works alongside the churches we lead and also partners with other churches, corporations, foundations and state offices in order to better serve the community.
“I joined the ‘multipliers who are women’ group a few years ago, and it immediately allowed me to have new friends and learn from other women who are passionate about serving the Lord. Women who go through similar challenges help me understand that I am not alone. I remember during one group meeting someone said, ‘Please pray for me as it is hard to share about the Lord while facing people who lack so much’ … then I realized we were going through the same thing. I believe God put this group together to keep us encouraged and focused.
“My tendency is to be engaged and serve in every possible way. Being connected and active in ministry is one of the most rewarding things that has happened to me. It is my prayer and hope that I can influence other women to take the leap to get involved.”
Pastor Katie Lance (Thrive Church, Eaton Rapids, Michigan)
“I am the lead pastor and co-planter of Thrive Church. My husband and I moved across the state to begin a church planting movement in 2016. We launched from a church Planting network and planted first in Eaton Rapids in 2017 with a small group of legacy believers from a closing Wesleyan church. We then launched a missional community into Charlotte, Michigan, in 2018. Thrive is currently looking to multiply into a home-church network in groups we call “micro families.” We began this movement in early 2020 just before COVID-19 hit. The closing of access to gathering in large groups and in the church building has been a catalyst for this expanding expression of the church.
“Being a part of the multipliers cohort has a profound impact on my life. My marriage, family, ministry and personal health are thriving in large part to the relationships that have been developed through the cohort. We are equipped, supported and encouraged in all areas of life by the imparting of knowledge as well as the stories and Spirit-filled prayers shared.
“We celebrate, grieve, heal, equip and encourage each other in the journey. ‘As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17.)’ I greatly appreciate that there is an intentional focus not to separate women out from the united kingdom movement. We stand strong in the call, with each other, with the Holy Spirit, with our brothers, for longevity in this heavy yet beautiful and eternally rewarding call.”
Pastor Shalom Liddick (Resurrection Life Church, Marana, Arizona)
“I come from a lineage of multipliers.
“Woven within my blood and that of Resurrection Life Church (the church I pastor), is the seed of multiplication. We planted and launched in March 2019, as part of the vision of Village Church to have a presence in surrounding ZIP codes. With arms locked, we see movement of God through Tucson, Arizona, where every woman, man, girl and boy gets the privilege to respond to Jesus Christ.
“I used to play a game as a kid where we interlocked arms with the person next to us until everyone was connected. The goal was to lock arms as a defense and offense — nothing could get through easily. Together, we would stand for as long as we could. No one fell down alone nor felt alone.
“That is the value of this group of amazing ladies. We meet over Zoom to pray, encourage and learn together. Anita [Eastlack] reminds us monthly, ‘You are not alone. You ladies are Wesleyan. We are together.’ I am reminded that I have locked arms with some sisters who are miles, states and countries away, yet still close enough to stand with me — and I with them.”
Dr. Wayne Schmidt, General Superintendent for The Wesleyan Church, continues to champion women in ministry as an integral part of building a Kingdom Force within TWC.
“When Peter preached [on Pentecost Sunday], what did he emphasize? Quoting the Old Testament prophet Joel, he highlighted a multigenerational spread of the gospel through women and men: ‘Your sons and daughters … young and old … both men and women (Joel 2:28-29, paraphrased).’
“We will never see the movement of God we long and pray for without the full expression of all the giftings of both women and men.”
Dr. Ed Love, director of multiplication for The Wesleyan Church, agrees, “I find it fascinating how God used ordinary women and men, from all kinds of diverse backgrounds and traditions, to advance the spreading of the gospel of Jesus and form new faith communities. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard church planters who are women share how broken they were for those in their community who were missing from Christ and the church, and their primary motivation to plant a new church was to create a new environment that could help people find their way back to God.”
Love and other TWC leaders know that a Kingdom Force cannot exist within TWC if women are not encouraged to join in helping transform lives, churches and communities through the hope and holiness of Jesus Christ.
“One thing I know for sure — The Wesleyan Church is blessed to have a full workforce (women and men) leading us toward a church planting movement,” said Love.
Eastlack knows these are exciting days for TWC and is excited to think about how God will continue to use these 101 women in the days ahead.
“When I began this role as executive director of CMAD in 2016, I knew of four church planters who were women,” said Eastlack. “I also knew that we would need to change our Wesleyan culture of ‘what does a church planter look like’ if we are going to close the Gospel Gap by making disciples who make disciples and churches who multiply.”