A Final Word
The behind the scenes and highlight reel for 2021
This Advent season I’ve been reflecting on 2021 and the joys and struggles of the past year. While there have been many things worthy of praise, I’ve also experienced a few disappointments along the way. I’m mindful of the quote by Craig Groeschel, “We often compare our behind-the-scenes with other people’s highlight reels”.
To counter that temptation, this year-end review of Groundswell will feature both the “highlight reel” and “behind the scenes” footage. I also want to close this article by providing you an opportunity to invest financially in Groundswell. I’ve divided this review into three sections…
What went well.
What didn’t go well.
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What Went Well
Let’s start with a few Groundswell highlights from 2021 and initiatives that continue to gain momentum. I wish there was time to share the countless quotes and testimonies of God’s goodness but these four areas come to mind.
Groundswell is a “mobilization ministry” and we provide focused training to pastors and leaders by partnering with regions, districts, networks, and churches. We now have dozens of partnerships across North America and saw 700 pastors and leaders in 2021 enrolled in one of our six signature courses (Building a Mobilization Pipeline, Building a Discipleship Pathway, Mobilizing Disciple Makers, Mobilizing Marketplace Multipliers, Mobilizing Pioneers Leaders, Live Sent). Chris Conrad, Regional Superintendent of the Great Lakes Region writes,
“The anointed work of Groundswell has helped our churches discern and implement a disciple-making, pioneer-raising process for their context that leads to life transformation and the spreading of the gospel! I highly recommend Groundswell and believe a partnership is worth your time and investment of resources.”
Want to learn more about starting a partnership with Groundswell in 2022? Click the button below for a quick “Partner Form” and opportunity to share to learn how we can best serve your church, district, or network.
We also had the opportunity this year to customize a few projects on mobilization. We began the year by concluding Project 72, an initiative with the Church Multiplication Collective that recruited 5 coaches, 30 churches, and 72 pioneers for research and development, culminating with a powerful Zoom call of testimonies, prayer, and celebration.
This month we had our final set of cohorts with Mission 120, a project with Church of God Anderson to equip 120 pastors in Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan to become disciple-making churches. We also partnered with The Wesleyan Church to launch “Live Sent: Discover Your Calling”, and “Mobilizing Marketplace Multipliers”, a training course to mobilize more disciple makers in the marketplace. Carrie Whitcher, MM Strategy Team Leader recently commented,
“The timing of “Mobilizing Marketplace Multipliers” is perfectly aligned and exactly what God intends to do in all of this kingdom work. Thanks again!”
The Exponential Ventures program invited Groundswell to a “Shark-Tank” presentation in Austin, TX this Spring to pitch an innovative training platform for pioneer leaders. Exponential continues to be a leading voice for mobilization and church planting and we were awarded a financial grant and accepted into the program. In addition, we were able to record a “Future Church” podcast and I was able to participate in “Oceans: Accelerator”, a coaching group for entrepreneurs and non-profits. This process helped us refine our mission, and we’re excited to continue to partner with Exponential.
Finally, “Banding Together” discipleship groups continue to impact hundreds of churches and thousands of people. We have given away or sold nearly 20,000 books and journals in just over three years and testimonies pour in regularly. Praise God for his favor! Terry McKinney of Springfield, OH writes,
“We had our first Disciple Maker training last night and 45 people came out to learn how to make disciples and 35 of them committed to launching D-Group this Summer. I am so excited!”
What Didn’t Go Well
Now, let’s go over a few of the things that didn’t go so well and the “behind the scenes”.
1) Cancellations and Postponements
Covid-19 threw a major wrench into a few anticipated plans for 2021. This summer I was scheduled to be the camp speaker at Beulah Camp in New Brunswick, Canada and I was also looking forward to a trip to England this fall with my D.Min. cohort. Both were highly anticipated and both were cancelled. Not only was I not able to walk in the footsteps of John Wesley, but also missed Beulah, “the closest thing to heaven” as one pastor recently described it. My girls shared my disappointment as they were looking forward to visiting Prince Edward Island to visit the home of Anne of Green Gables. Ugh!
We also planned and coordinated a much-anticipated conference called “Mobilize the Church” at two universities this fall and had to make the difficult decision to postpone due to Covid-19 and other factors beyond our control. This was frustrating to say the least.
2) D.Min Official Stalled
I was intending to graduate in May of 2022 with my D.Min but instead felt the need to postpone my graduation until May 2023. Chalk it up to an overcrowded schedule, biting off more than I could chew, or being overly aggressive with calendar planning, but the research phase of my dissertation has officially stalled. Please pray I can fire it back up again this year and graduate “on time” in 2023. My dissertation is titled, “Effective Characteristics of Pioneer Leaders”.
3) Local Fit
This might be harder to explain, but spending time in a trans-local role after pastoring for the last 15 years has been an adjustment. Learning to celebrate vicariously through others around the country is rewarding on one level, but we are starting to consider opportunities to ramp up local ministry as well. My wife and I decided to launch a Discovery Group in our neighborhood earlier this year and we continue to enjoy that process. We’ve grown to love the city of Indianapolis and while God continues to reaffirm my call to Groundswell, I’m currently wrestling with how to better steward my time and lead locally.
Perhaps it’s COVID, Zoom fatigue, or a growing digital malaise, but recruiting for initiatives seems to take 5X the effort it did a few years ago. Furthermore, we launched one of our major initiatives during a season of transition with a partner organization and a large amount of the recruiting load fell on my plate.
Not only does this drain me at times, but will need to increase in the future. As we continue to expand, I need to find a better approach to growth and recruitment. This may mean finding a ministry assistant in the near future.
And now I want to share three big things on the horizon for 2022 as we continue to mobilize more disciple makers and pioneer leaders.
1) Pioneer Training Center
The Pioneer Training Center has been in the works for almost six months and I look forward to sharing more in 2022. We’ve currently developed a 9-month virtual residency program called “Pioneer Basic Training” and believe that mobilizing pioneers is the linchpin between making disciples and planting new churches. Pioneers are an overlooked group in most churches. We define a pioneer as…
“Missionary disciples called to engage and reach a group of people who are uncomfortable or unfamiliar with the established church”
We will share MUCH more about this new initiative in 2022.
2) Growing the Team
We’re also excited to continue to grow our team. Yamil Acevedo serves as our Latino Ministries Director and Intercultural Advisor and Jeremy Summers will join us as our Training Director for 2022. Both of these men are uniquely gifted for their respective roles. Yamil is wrapping up his PhD in Intercultural Studies and Jeremy has a D.Min from Fuller Theological Seminary and is an author, pastor, and professor. In addition, Josh Cooper will be joining the team as a Disciple-Making Coach, and we plan to add regional coaches and a Creative Director in 2022.
3) Mobilize the Church
Finally, we have a big announcement to make!
Since our inception, Groundswell has had a strong relationship with a non-profit called 1000 Churches, a ministry that specializes in equipping church planters and sending pastors. Dwight Nash is the Executive Director and a great friend and trusted brother in Christ. Over the past two years we have been meeting weekly to collaborate on projects, share insights, and encourage one another. Our ministries also share a common approach to mobilization we call our “Mobilization Pipeline”.
This fall we gathered in Indianapolis and laid the foundation for a new ministry we are calling Mobilize the Church.
Dwight and I are co-founding this new non-profit with a top-notch Board of Directors. Mobilize the Church will become an umbrella organization to develop a growing family of ministries committed to mobilization. In addition to Groundswell and 1000 Churches, we are also excited to welcome Global Cities and Digital Disciple Makers to the family.
Will You Support Us?
Whew! Thank you for your prayers and support this past year. We can’t do this without you! I want to close with a specific request for financial partners. Over the past two years, we have relied almost exclusively on partner ministries and contracts but as we expand we need to develop a growing group of generous financial partners. We need to raise $15,000 in the next few weeks to finish strong!
Would you pray this simple prayer? “Lord, before I close this e-mail, is there any amount you would have me give to Groundswell?” Please listen to how God might be speaking.
If you have been positively impacted by the ministry of Groundswell or feel led to give, please click the button below.
We are a 501c3 non-profit and all gifts are tax-deductible. I can’t wait to share more as we move into 2022.