(Photo: Vintage Faith Church)
The two-day "Nines Conference," a webcast-only event featuring dozens of Christian leaders throughout the country discussing topics relevant to churches and ministries during back-to-back messages of about five minutes each, kicked-off on Tuesday.
The virtual conference, organized by Leadership Network and Catalyst, is specifically designed for leaders who want to know "what works" in continuing their ministries and mission. One of the speakers, Dan Kimball, whose California-based congregation, Vintage Faith Church, is comprised of 36 percent college students, spoke on developing a youth ministry and what works within his church to attract young adults.
"What is working is non-compromised, Biblical doctrine and Biblical theology and not being afraid to boldly teach these truths," said Kimball, who is a CP senior editorial advisor. "You may say, 'of course,' but what you're dealing with is a generation that has never ever heard of systematic theology."
He said many churches do not realize that lots of young adults are actually eager and passionate to learn doctrine principles, which church leaders often do not teach because they underestimate the level of interest. Kimball also advises that theology and Biblical doctrine should be taught as a way to create a culture within the church.
Meanwhile, Pastor Craig Groeschel, who leads LifeChurch.tv based in Oklahoma and is co-creator of the popular YouVersion Bible app, spoke about multisite churches and how to branch out to different areas within a location.
"Don't do multisite too soon, in the wrong way, with the wrong people, in the wrong location for the wrong reasons," said Groeschel. "In fact, I find myself trying to talk people out of multisites because they're trying to do it at the wrong time."
He said pastors should maximize the building they are already in before thinking about expanding, and he added that having two services is not enough to open another campus. He argues that churches should hold four, six or more services before opening another church site.
"I believe God honors the stewardship of maximizing your resources," he said. "It's also all about leadership, you have to find the right people, I cannot emphasize how important that is. Pastors, it's more about your leadership than your preachership because you'll have to give your ministry away."
Groeschel also spoke about steering away from video sermons and realizing how different a senior pastor's role will be and how much it will change once a church opens an additional site, let alone multisites.
"Also, don't start too many campuses, too soon and too small. A common mistake I see is a campus starts well and then the pastor thinks he can open five of them. Understand that they should be big enough to be self-supporting and big enough to self-reproduce."
Another quick-topic discussion during the Nines Conference was about missions and what worked for the Washington, D.C.-based National Community Church, led by Pastor Mark Batterson.
"God is going to bless us in proportion in how we do missions. I've always believed that if we're giving and we're going, God is going to take care of the home base," said Batterson.
During his church's earlier years, Batterson said God impressed upon him to give to missions even though their church only had $24,000 in annual funds. He said he would argue, "God how can we give when we don't have?" However, he made the decision to invest in missions by giving $50 monthly.
"Our church was making minimum wage, if you will, but when we gave that first check, the next month, our giving tripled 300% and we never looked back," said Batterson.
Ever since then, Batterson says his church, composed of a majority of single, twenty-somethings, has given over $1 million to missions.
"I believe one missions trip is worth more than 52 of my sermons," said Batterson. "We're already educated beyond the level of our obedience, we don't need to know more, we need to do more with that we know."
The Nines Conference began five years ago on September 9, 2009. At the time, each speaker was given nine minutes to speak on a topic of their choice, with a total of 99 speakers that first year, hence the name. Eventually, conference organizers decided to cut back from nine to five minutes and now it is recognized as one of the largest online events that attracts leaders from over 50 countries each year.
To register for free and watch speakers live during Wednesday's conference, visit www.thenines.tv