Gathered by the Gospel: Network Leaders Forum

We come from different tribes—both ethnically and theologically—but we unite over the gospel.

At 3:08 pm on Wednesday, March 8, prayers in Spanish, German, Chinese, Hungarian, Russian, French, English, Japanese and Korean could be heard. After each prayer, nearly 100 voices joined in the universal “Amen.” It was one of many beautiful and inspiring moments that occurred during Network Leaders Forum (NLF). 

Eighty network leaders representing 41 global cities and 26 countries met in NYC from March 7-9. A network is formed when leaders from the same city, region or even country develop relationships and formally decide to work together to plant churches and reach their geographical area with the gospel. NLF is a gathering of these network leaders.

Scott Zeller, pastor and trainer from Dubai opened the forum on Tuesday morning. His text was Habakkuk 2:14.

    For the earth will be filled
    With the knowledge of the glory of the Lord
    As the waters cover the sea.

He said, “We come from different tribes—both ethnically and theologically— but we unite over the gospel. The work we do of making disciples is to God’s glory alone. He is the cornerstone on which we do all that we do.” 

Neil Powell, pastor of City Church Birmingham and Network Leader of 2020 Birmingham—both in Birmingham, England, echoed Scott’s premise. “We are committed to the same core gospel DNA, and we’re committed to reaching our city.”

Each day opened with worship, followed by prayer and a morning devotion. There were panel discussions given by network leaders and talks given by CTC staff. The staff’s topics focused on theology and CTC’s approach to forming church-planting movements, while the network leaders spoke about successes and failures they’ve experienced. Small group discussions allowed people to process what they heard, to network and to pray together.

Al Barth, CTC’s Global Catalyst was encouraged. He said, “We believe the Lord is blessing this movement and tens of thousands of churches could be planted through the people in this room and the networks they represent.”
 
Each afternoon, participants joined a specific “Table Talk.” Topics covered were Funding, Justice and Mercy, Faith and Work, Training the Planter’s Spouse, Growing a Training Infrastructure and Developing a Coaching Pipeline.

This was the second NLF for Andras Lovas, a network leader from Budapest. He reflected, “Without CTC, I would know about church planting, but I would not know anything about vision building or how networking happens. A time like this is very fruitful—ideas, encouragement, inspiration.” 

As CTC Global Catalyst Jay Kyle compared this NLF to others, he remarked, “This time there is a really warm community feel.” Jay observed leaders from different countries sharing openly at the afternoon Table Talk discussions. The leaders are no longer looking just to CTC for all the training. “They are doing it themselves. They are now leading, and I am greatly encouraged.”

It’s the gospel that unites these leaders. Victor Cruz, a CTC Latin America network leader from Mexico City said, “We have no other thing to offer. We have no other message. Our only hope for the expansion of the kingdom of God is the power of the gospel.”