Catalyst Atlanta, the annual conference featuring an "eclectic mix of seasoned sages, leadership experts, and passionate young upstarts," once again, did not disappoint the more than 13,000 believers who attended the 3-day mega-event. Those in attendance were challenged to go deeper into what it means to truly be known by God, organizers said at its conclusion.
"I want to live like the sweet, kind, alive 80-year-old who isn't reliving the glory days – one that believes the next generation is going to bring great things to the world and that the best is yet to come," Pastor Judah Smith, of The City Church in Seattle, told the mostly under-40 (years old) crowd during one of the main sessions on Thursday.
Smith, known for his humorous communication style and sometimes surprising candor and honesty, exhorted Christian leaders to stay the course, following the examples given in the Bible. more >>
Saddleback Church, which has 10 campuses across Southern California, is undertaking for the very first time in its 33-year history the launch of campuses outside of the United States in an effort to "finish the Great Commission," according to founding Pastor Rick Warren. Warren and his megachurch will see fruits of their years-long work with the "12 Cities PEACE Plan" come to bear this month with the launch of three global campuses, one each in Hong Kong, Berlin and Buenos Aires.
Saddleback Hong Kong is the first global congregation prepared for launch, and will officially open its doors this Sunday, Oct. 6. The following two Sundays will see Saddleback Berlin (Oct. 13) and Buenos Aires (Oct 20) follow suit. Eventually, over the next few years, these Saddleback church plants will be followed by sister congregations in Accra, Amman, Bangalore, Johannesburg, London, Manila, Mexico City, Moscow, and Tokyo.
"The ultimate goal is to finish the Great Commission by planting a body of Jesus (church), a Bible (portion of God's word) and a believer in the last unengaged people groups on Earth," Warren explained in a press release shared with The Christian Post. "Jesus said one day in heaven there will be people from every tribe and nation worshipping around God's throne. I intend to use all my influence in rallying the Global Church to do what Jesus commanded us 2000 years ago!" more >>
A growing movement of Christian leaders committed to accelerating the multiplication of healthy, reproducing churches is offering 10 hours of almost continuous programming on discipleship via a live webcast from the upcoming Exponential West Conference hosted by Rick Warren's Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., Oct. 8-10.
Exponential leaders say they are fueled by a goal to see as many church leaders, small groups, church planting launch teams, individuals and even full churches participating in the discipleship conversation as possible.
The three-day conference beginning today (Oct. 8) will focus on discipleship, specifically five key shifts Christian leaders can make to become better at making and releasing disciples. The event features 27 national and regional leaders in 10 main sessions. The live webcast, available for free to anyone who registers, will include 10-plus hours of nearly continuous programming, organizers said. more >>
A Christian publication geared towards churches and ministries has recently published its annual lists of the 100 largest and fastest growing churches in the United States.
Outreach Magazine, a California-based publication that includes ideas, features, and interviews with evangelicals, published the two lists earlier this month. With approximately 43,500 worship attendees, Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church of Houston, Texas, was number one in the largest church category. Triumph Church of Detroit, Mich., was the fastest growing, having experienced an increase of about 3,800 worship attendees or 49 percent.
High ranking congregations on both lists included NewSpring Church of Anderson, S.C., which was number 2 on the fastest-growing list and number 4 on the largest. NewSpring Central Communications Director Suzanne Swift told The Christian Post that they were "honored" by the blessings God had given their congregation. more >>
Carl Lentz, presented in the mainstream press of late as an evangelical anomaly, was featured in Detail magazine's October 2013 issue in a story titled "Jesus Christ's Superstar" with a question posed asking whom the Hillsong NYC pastor was seeking to glorify.
Lentz, 34, founded and co-pastors HIllsong NYC with Joel Houston, son of Hillsong Church founders Pastors Brian and Bobbie Houston. Lentz and Houston have managed in three years to turn the vibrant congregation "into a Pentecostal powerhouse and a destination for the in crowd," according to Details.
Previously noted by The Associated Press for his fashion sense, ministry style and a je ne sais quoi that happens to attract Millennials, superstars, and everyday New Yorkers, Lentz appears to have the potential to become this generation's Billy Graham. But instead of packing stadiums, Lentz has been packing NYC's Irving Plaza concert venue several times over with thousands of people for Sunday services. With lines snaked around the block long before the start of every service, many worshippers are willing to stand, or sit on the floor, if they miss out on seats once inside. more >>
Despite assurances from Ben Houston that the Hillsong LA church he feels called to plant in Southern California will not "build on anyone else's foundation," some observers are concerned that the popular Australian megachurch's expansion to the Golden State could mean a substantial loss of members for already-established churches in the area.
Hillsong Church founder and Senior Pastor Brian Houston shared in a blog post earlier this month, after making the announcement during weekend services, that his son, Ben, would be moving with his wife and three daughters at some point to begin tilling the ground for a new church plant. The ministry's only U.S. congregation is in NYC, led by Pastors Carl Lentz and Joel Houston, the the founding pastor's other son.
"I know there are a lot of questions out there after the announcement, but the truth is we don't really have the answers yet!" wrote Ben Houston in an update on the church startup. "We are still in the very early stages of planning. There is a stack of paperwork and immigration issues to sort through; and a lot to wrap up here in Sydney before we embark on this incredible journey." more >>