I stood behind my son in early September as he stalked a beautiful buck. From over his shoulder, I provided guidance, whispered encouragement, estimated yards to target and told when to draw his bow — all stuff a young hunter has swirling through his adrenaline-fueled brain in this moment. Fast forward a few minutes. I could not have been more excited by his success. The celebration of his accomplishment and provision for our family was actually greater than if I had been the hunter.
The same is true in any field of endeavor. A successful athlete has a choice to make at some point. He or she can choose to keep winning all the medals or begin to train the next generation. Maturity means learning to share the win and celebrate the success of those around you — those in whom you’re investing and are elevating.
Anything I have accomplished in life has been because I’ve had someone whispering in my ear, guiding and encouraging me. The men who have gone before me and on whose shoulders I now stand have taught, discipled, coached, cajoled and hollered — pressing me to learn from them and lean forward into the race. Whether it has been learning to bow hunt, chase a degree, plant and pastor churches or love my wife and children well, I have benefited from the wisdom of men and women who believed in me and gave me a chance to make a difference.
Pass it on to the next generation
The apostle Paul said it this way, “You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others” (2 Tim. 2:2, NLT).
This pattern stretches back through generations and links us to the future. What Paul passed on to Timothy was intended not just to benefit Timothy, but to be paid forward to the next disciple and then the next. Paul wasn’t interested in soaking up all the ministry wins, disciples and church plants. He wanted those coming after him to think theologically and act courageously to propel the kingdom from one generation and location to the next.
We’re trying to do this in the Northwest these days. Converge in this district began with one church planted in Seattle 126 years ago. It’s taken a long time for us to grow to 95 churches spread across five large Western states. We’ve recently embraced a vision to more than double the Converge movement in the Northwest over the next 10 years. It’s a ridiculously God-sized goal. But it’s possible.
One way we seek to work together is by forming networks of church planting churches based in geographic regions. What one church can often not accomplish alone can be a shared endeavor. All can pray, all can give something, all can highlight a multiplication vision and most can provide leaders and core team members. Our goal is to add two new networks each year for the next 10 years. And we’re seeing traction. In this first year we have started three networks and adopted one more. These were planting eight churches in the 2016 calendar year, and several unaffiliated churches are joining our Converge Northwest movement.
Two daughter churches in one year
Here’s a recent story that highlights Paul’s message to Timothy to “pass it on.”
By God’s grace, Cascade Church in Monroe, Washington, where I serve as pastor, has multiplied a number of daughter and granddaughter congregations. We currently have three Washington state church plants in the pipeline: Casa de Paz in Monroe, Emmaus Road in Stanwood and Rise Church in north Seattle.
Trevor and Hilary Horn, who have been serving as church planting residents at Cascade — learning in an established church while preparing to plant a daughter church — are planning to launch Rise Church this fall. Massive cultural differences are represented in the 30 miles between rural Monroe, where I pastor, and north Seattle. Because we’re a rural congregation, serving at Cascade has been a slight culture shock for Trevor. Besides the demographic differences, it’s also a long drive to Seattle for Cascade folks to consider joining the Rise launch team.
As it happens, Sola, a sister church of Cascade, is located in Bothell, halfway between Monroe and Seattle. Led by Scott and Corrin Molvar, the church just celebrated its one-year birthday. The plant meets on the campus of Cascadia College. The group is young, vibrant and fits the demographic the Horns are hoping to reach in Seattle.
Because they’re closer to Seattle than is Monroe, it made sense for Sola to guide the Horns in planting Rise. So, Cascade began sharing the Horns’ leadership with Sola, having them join the Molvars one day a week and one Sunday a month. Over the next six months, the Horns will transition almost fully from Monroe and Bothell to north Seattle.
Sola Church will have the opportunity to get into the multiplication game and send, pray, give and go to the new mission in north Seattle. As far as they are aware, Rise Church will be their first daughter church. In a sense, Cascade is still the mother by sharing the Horns, but taking a quiet role of support. And we will be even more excited by Sola’s involvement in their first daughter than if this were just another plant from Cascade.
A mutual win for the kingdom
When we guide and encourage the leaders around us toward their own success, they see the pattern and pass it on to the next leader. That feels like a win for the kingdom.
Why not raise up and empower those around you to greater effectiveness? “Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.” (2 Tim. 2:2).
Nate Hettinga, Lead pastor of Cascade Church
Nate Hettinga is lead pastor at Cascade Church in Monroe, Washington, and director of Converge Northwest church planting.