On September 9, 2022, “Beach House” — a training run by OCNWTR — gathered 40 church planters from five countries at a series of beach houses near San Clemente, California, for a free church planting training.

OCNWTR’s methodology is to plant small churches (ranging from just a handful to 40 people) at no to minimal cost. Staff are volunteers, finances go directly toward community efforts, and resources are shared. The approach is proving scalable. The OCNWTR network has planted 25 churches in nine countries, with a total of 900 people gathered in congregations. The average of all churches in their network is 25 to 30 people.

That model allows churches to stay nimble, and to use their finances to accomplish local and global good. OCNWTR derives its name from its focus on “Saltwater, clean water, living water,” a nod to its efforts to partner with communities around the world to plant churches and create sustainable systems for clean water.

“One of the pros of planting churches with a couple to 40 people at no to minimal cost is that you are able to go into some of these nooks and crannies of the culture — beaches and houses and rallies and parks and bus terminals — you’re able to get into these spaces easier and quicker than some of the more capitalized methodologies,” said Dr. Ryan Delamater, founder of OCNWTR.

All the speakers at the conference were practitioners, planting congregations in various locations. Those locations served as a framework for the conference, with sessions like, “God at the beach” and “God at the jiu-jitsu studio” and “God at a bus terminal,” each giving attendees a chance to hear stories of how churches (of various forms) had formed in each location.

“The best part of it was not only hearing stories of practitioners — but each day we met for coffee in the back at 9, and it was great; a couple people I’ve been friends with for a while — others were newer friend. But some of the best conversations were just on the back patio talking about life, developing friendships,” said Dr. Delamater.

While this was the first “Beach House” event, OCNWTR is already planning to host similar gatherings in El Salvador, Argentina, Indonesia, Pakistan and another in San Clemente next year.

In addition to Beach House, Dr. Delamater asks for prayer over OCNWTR’s international installation of water systems that turn sunlight and air into drinking water. “We have worked very hard to eliminate the finances needed to plant and disciple new works; however, moving into next year, we need to fund five international water projects, and I am praying and asking God to provide those resources for us.”

Rev. Ethan Linder is the pastor of discipleship at College Wesleyan Church in Marion, Indiana, and contributing editor at The Wesleyan Church’s Education and Clergy Development Division.