A number of factors began to converge, and Greg Nettle, senior pastor at RiverTree Christian Church (Massillon, OH), thought God might be up to something.
There were partnerships with Stadia (Irvine, CA) and Compassion International; the launch of 18 churches and counting with Kingdom Synergy Partnership, a church planting network; the addition of Alex Absalom, coauthor of Launching Missional Communities, to the RiverTree staff; the launch of Love Canton, an urban church plant; and the transition of RiverTree from megachurch to missional movement.
“It started to become clear that God was moving,” Nettle says.
The RiverTree team realized more churches are moving down the missional path, but few young people coming out of college have real-world opportunities to learn about it.
“Perhaps even more importantly, in the church planting world right now one out of every three leaders says he wants to start a missional church,” Nettle says. “But there hasn’t been a financially sustainable model.”
With a dual focus on research and development as well as coaching, Synergy is working to solve these problems.
SynergyIGNITE, a leadership conference hosted at RiverTree later this month, offers teaching and interaction for pastors seeking guidance on making the missional transition.
“We’re limiting the event to 120 people so they can experience missional community during the conference and we can spend time with them individually,” says Nettle.
The two-year SynergyEDGE learning community includes several strategic gatherings and opportunities for new church planters and leaders of existing churches to make strategic shifts into a missional culture with smaller communities and a strong emphasis on discipleship.
SynergySENT, a 12-month apprenticeship, helps next-generation leaders experience missional principles in urban, suburban, church plant, and transitional megachurch contexts.
“We have definitely been in that transition,” Nettle says. “We made the decision not to build the huge building and instead we’re reaching northern Ohio by creating missional communities. We call them Go Communities, or GoCos.”
Each GoCo ranges from 20 to 70 people and reaches a different group, from one launched in the local country club to another reaching Mexican itinerant laborers. RiverTree will launch 30 GoCos this fall.
“I really believe this area is going to become a bright light for Jesus,” he says. “Northern Ohio is frequently listed as one of the 10 worst places to live. But we are part of a movement, and people will say only Jesus could have done this.”
Visit www.RiverTreeChristian.com for information on each of the Synergy opportunities.