Hosted in Orlando on March 7-10, 2022, Exponential Conference — and the accompanying Wesleyan Shoulder Day — brought new insights and connection for Wesleyan leaders interested in multiplying their ways of disciple making and church planting.
While Exponential has often been perceived as a church planting conference, over the past few years, The Wesleyan Church (TWC) has utilized Exponential’s resources to be faithful in multiplying not only congregations but disciples.
This year’s conference was focused on being “Empowered by the Spirit,” which gave attendees the opportunity to build space for discernment. “Leaders were really drawn into the question, ‘What is the Holy Spirit calling us to,’ and that created context and atmosphere where leaders were really listening and in tune — not just doing something because it’s a new fad or a new idea, but truly being birthed out of a vision from God,” reflected Dr. Ed Love, director of church multiplication for TWC.
Harmonizing with the theme of the conference, The Wesleyan Shoulder Day focused on revival, renewal and Spirit-filled transformation within the church leaders in attendance.
“We said, ‘Let’s not focus on just tips and tricks for sparking revival; let’s just begin with our relationship with Jesus, letting him work in and through us and spark that revival in our churches,” Dr. Love shared. In that spirit, four church planters (all of whom planted since the start of the pandemic) shared about their experiences of God’s faithfulness within their own church planting journeys.
Those journeys are only the most recent examples of multiplying Wesleyan churches influenced by the resources and relationships formed at Exponential. Ransom Church, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Sent Church, Plano, Texas, Celebrate Church, Sioux Falls, South Dakota and United Wesleyan Church, Easley, South Carolina, are a few of the churches who have benefited from the conference in recent years.
Pastor Emma Adams, church planter in Seaford, Delaware, shared how Exponential helped her in her church planting journey.
“Exponential Conference gave me the courage and support to pursue God’s call to plant churches,” Pastor Emma offered. “Exponential helped us connect with the education, people, and resources to launch Hope Church and to continue our mission to bring hope to Delmarva through Jesus Christ. It challenges us to think about multiplication not just in theory but in practice.”
That practical focus on multiplication is part of our Wesleyan heritage. From field preaching to microchurches, The Wesleyan Church has been motivated — not by fads or by cultural mirroring, but by faithfulness to our communities’ deep needs — to cultivate fresh expressions of church.
Living into that vision requires the partnership of all types of churches, from established churches to brand-new congregations. In that spirit, Dr. Love invites church leaders of every stripe to consider their ways of multiplying disciples and attend next year’s Exponential.
“Exponential is an incredible atmosphere for people to bring their key leaders and teams so they also get exposed to how lay leaders can be a part of the culture shift,” said Dr. Love. “Everyone can contribute to church multiplication in some way. The conference inspires people to have a broken heart for the harvest that’s out there, and internal recognition that they are being raised up to be sent out.”
For more information on church multiplication efforts within The Wesleyan Church, visit wesleyan.org/multiplication.
Rev. Ethan Linder is the pastor of collegians and young adults at College Wesleyan Church in Marion, Indiana, and contributing editor at The Wesleyan Church’s Education and Clergy Development Division.