Well I know where I’m gonna be during the first 5 days of March of 2020. I’ll be in Orlando Florida attending Exponential 2020. I’m fully registered (and paid) for the annual church planting conference in Orlando. I’m so looking forward to returning there for the first time in 12 years. I’ve already made my own hotel reservations near the site.
A little history: I attended my very first church conference ever as a baby Christian back on 21, 22, and 23 April of 2008. At that time I was only 20 months into my salvation. I was honored and elated to even be invited to attend Exponential 2008 with a small group from my church family at the time. I couldn’t turn down such a wonderful opportunity. As it turns out the church conference was everything I expected it to be and a whole lot more. I grew in Christ exponentially during those 3 days, as I praised and worshiped God with thousands in the biggest sanctuary I had ever seen in my life, and I networked with pastors, ministers, and leaders of the church in much smaller workshop sessions which I hand-selected myself based on my interests at the time. It was at one of those workshop sessions where I was addressed as “Pastor Chris” for the first time ever. That totally blew my mind, and I was surely not worthy of that respect.
That church conference changed my life forever. I decided during that conference that I wanted to eventually go in to full-time ministry, and that part-time ministry must begin immediately. (And it did.)
I was not invited back to Exponential by my former church family – not in 2009 – not in 2010 – not ever again. I was saddened, heartbroken, and devastated by that fact for many years. I’ve kept that to myself for all of these years. Sure I could’ve registered and gone on my own (independently), but it just didn’t seem right to do so. After all if my own church family didn’t want me to go with them then why should I go on my own ? That was not a Godly attitude at the time, but it was how I felt. God doesn’t like bitterness.
I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart – because I have overcome the world. (John 16:33 NLT)
Earlier this week I suddenly realized that yet another Exponential conference had come and gone in Orlando for the 11TH year in a row without me. I’ve been praying to God about this for a long time now, and I’ve finally come to terms with this situation. I went to Exponential’s official web site, and I spent a good hour-plus checking it all out. I used God’s courage in me to register for the next conference in 2020. In fact I even registered for a pre-conference equipping lab on leadership. I’ll be taking full advantage of every opportunity I can engage in from before the conference officially starts through the last hour of the conference.
Those close to me know that my plans remain to go in to full-time ministry in about 5 years after I retire from my 38-year USAF career. I don’t know what exactly that full-time ministry entails. It could be planting a new church. It could be joining an established team of church planters. It could be pastoring an existing church. It could be training up-and-coming church leaders. Whatever it is God will lead me there, and He will equip me every step of the way.
My passion in all of this continues to intensify in my 13TH year on this fantastic journey. Some of my brothers and sisters in Christ have believed in me and supported me all the way through. Some believed in me for a season, and then gave up on me for various reasons. Some believed in me, gave up on me, and then returned to me after a period of time when they saw that I was still here living and loving in Christ. Some pretended to like me somewhere along the way, but as it turns out they weren’t really being genuine. Some even used me for their benefit.
Walking this journey is tough. I’ve been saying this since I was a baby Christian in 2007. This journey is not a straight line. You can’t see to the end. It’s a long and winding road with numerous sharp curves. It’s easy to fall into the slimy pit – into the mud and mire – along both sides of the narrow road. It’s easy to make a U-turn and go back to where you came from. It’s hard to continue progressing forward. That’s why you can’t walk alone. That’s why you need brothers and sisters to walk alongside you. But brothers and sisters will eventually let you down, so you need God right in front of you to lead you forth. If you believe, follow, and trust our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ – then He will lead you to those heavenly gates for eternal life with God.
P.S. If you plan to attend Exponential 2020 then let me know so that we can network before, during, and after the conference. #Fellowship #Together2020
All rights reserved (c) 2019 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries