As a kid, I remember attending about every North American Christian Convention we could drive to as a family. Many Christian church ministry kids can say the same. I probably saw you there, heard your last name in passing, or attended a youth session with you. I remember particularly large gatherings in Cincinnati and Indianapolis with thousands of believers singing, praying, and taking Communion together. I remember wondering, What connects all these people from so many different churches in so many different states? What draws us all together?
Three years ago, the Spire Network was born in the shadow of that 91-year legacy with the idea of providing ministry leaders with more than any three-day conference could offer. You see, the NACC was never really the event, but rather the community connection, the chance to contribute to the growth of our church’s movement, and the collaboration of innovative ministry that brought us together and still unites us all.
Spire Network is built on the vision of seeking measurable kingdom impact through practical ministry support. It seeks to encourage and equip church leaders who inspire a movement of healthy growing churches by focusing on biblical authority, Christian unity, and the Great Commission. Spire Network is a community linked together with a common identity that is working to help accelerate our movement of restorative Christian churches. Community connection, contribution, and collaboration are built into the DNA of Spire Network, for we now have the opportunity to gather around the clock, every day of the year through a variety of platform-driven resources and events.
Board president Dave Stone is excited for the change that Spire represents.
“I loved attending the NACC—50 times, in fact!” Stone said. “But it has been exciting to see the transition to the broader Spire platform.” Stone, who previously served as senior pastor with Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, has, over the years, witnessed many changes and shifts in the organizations, institutions, and service providers of Restoration Movement churches.
“While our movement remains anchored to our values, Spire has allowed churches and leaders to pivot, innovate, expand, and encourage one another,” he said. “It stretches beyond just an annual three-day get-together and has become a daily source to connect and grow us as leaders. It’s the difference between multiplication and addition.”
A Dedication to CONNECTING
SpireConference: In 2019 SpireConference hosted its inaugural gathering in Orlando that saw more than 1,500 ministry leaders over three days. People who attended the event were inspired by the opportunity to connect, fellowship, and take part in the refreshed format. In 2020, SpireConference went virtual due to the pandemic, and more than 3,000 leaders and ministry staff joined together online for a challenging one-day event viewed in 44 states and in more than 13 countries.
In 2021, SpireConference will take place September 14-16 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville. Again, three days of connection, challenge, and recommitment of purpose will kick off the annual Spire Network calendar and provide much-needed time of encouragement and equipping for ministry teams and leaders from across the country. If you haven’t already registered, go to spireconference.network for more information, team discounts, and the best prices on hotels and special events.
Regional Events: Leaders need one another, and connecting with others in your region is important toward building synergy and movement. Spire regional events, held at Topgolf locations and other recreational facilities, began in 2020 to specifically encourage regional connection and build team camaraderie around a one-day event. Leaders connect for lunch, get great content from both ministry and marketplace leaders, and enjoy Topgolf or other activities together.
Sponsors, vendors, and ministry partners engage leaders at both the SpireConference and Spire regional events and are an important part of sharing in ministry. Spire Network engages ministry partners and sponsors that serve only leaders, the leader’s team, or the leader’s church in a specific ministry way and contribute to providing solutions and innovation that support Spire Network’s mission.
Spire Mobile App: In late 2019, the Spire app was launched as the online place for connecting, content sharing, community building, mentorship activities, and collaboration among church leaders. With more than 4,000 leader profiles already uploaded and content being added daily, the Spire mobile app is constantly growing and changing.
Groups can easily form on the mobile app and provide a closed content forum for sharing and working together in a space where your data and information will not be shared or sold.
New areas to support staffing and ministry innovation are being developed this year and will continue to foster and provide connection.
The Spire Network mobile app is available in your device’s app store.
Pastor Health & Resiliency: In the past year, the coronavirus pandemic created a tremendous challenge for ministry leaders in churches around the world. As leaders worked to adapt and adjust, the prolonged ambiguity and ever-changing restrictions and safety guidelines served to reinforce we were never meant to live or lead in isolation.
Spire has begun to develop a host of Pastor Health & Resiliency services and resources to provide trusted counsel and mentorship, while also increasing the spirit of stamina in the ministry leader. The network uses proximity encouragement through respected regional leaders as well as trusted counseling and professional mental health partners to provide a connection point for leaders to stay mentally fit and strong for service through any circumstance.
Ben Cacharias, lead pastor of Mountain Christian Church in Joppa, Maryland, knows the importance of community and connection.
“An African proverb says, ‘If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ It echoes biblical truth I’ve found true in my own life and ministry,” Cachiaras said. “We need each other! And our tribe needs a connecting place so we can get more done together, learn from one another, and make the movement move. After a year of pandemic isolation, this is no time for business as usual. We need the fresh thinking and deep collaboration Spire Networkprovides. For me and our team, the resources and networking we gain through Spire are more important than ever.”
A Place for CONTRIBUTION
Resources:Each day a host of resources and ministry tools are placed on the Spire mobile app. Every week more leaders join the community and download the app to take advantage of those resources, connections, and sponsored offerings. Leaders will soon be able to find curated books, small-group materials, and video resources from publishers and ministry partners directly through the Spire mobile app. The app’s resource area provides an excellent place for contribution to occur. A research white paper, scholarly journal, or even a cornerstone sermon series may provide a perfect opportunity to share your content and help advance other leaders’ efforts.
Mentorship and Cohorts: Some leaders learn and grow best from one-on-one or small-group sharing. Spire Network continues to commit to opportunities for real mentorship with seasoned leaders and smaller gatherings where regional and situational issues can find solutions and leaders can grow in confidence. A series of cohorts and mentorship opportunities will be introduced in the coming months both online and on location to address the need for community and involvement.
“Many of us are coming off the most challenging season of ministry in our lives. We need each other,” said Tyler McKenzie of Northeast Christian Church in Louisville. “We need a community that pours courage into us as we stand on truth in the face of cultural rejection. We need a community that fills us with energy as we fight exhaustion and step into others’ suffering day after day. We need a community to collaborate with on methods for leading healthy churches in a post-COVID world. I’m finding these kinds of resources and relationships, real time, thanks to the Spire Network.”
SpireCast, Huddles, and Webinars: Digital broadcast has provided a weekly opportunity for Spire Network to provide current and needed digital discussion around a variety of topics. SpireCast provides a weekly recap of SpireConference presentations with live commentary, as well as featured content including programs on pastor financial health, tax and investment guidance, mental health, pastor resiliency, and ministry specialization presentations led by top ministry leaders and authors. Hundreds of leaders check-in for SpireCast each week or view one of the encore broadcasts on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
Huddles are a special breakout format that accompanies both the SpireConference event and online breakout-driven presentations. The Huddle format, either live or digital, is designed to provide an extended time of discovery around a specialized ministry area or topic. Each participant has opportunity to leave with a new discovery, connect with the ministry mentor, and leave with a new connection in their ministry area. More than 1,200 leaders have attended Spire Huddles in 2020 and 2021.
Spire webinars are one-hour online events that feature a ministry-driven topic or provide an informative presentation on a current event or key ministry innovation. Experts have presented webinars on digital engagement, pastor health, and pending legislation that impacts every church in America. More than 1,000 leaders have taken part in a Spire webinar in 2020 and 2021.
The Power of COLLABORATION
Spire Spark: Innovation can be an elusive oasis in a desert of busyness. Good ideas can dry on the vine before they become fruitful. Spire Network will add an innovation module to the Spire app this year where great ideas can be shared and adapted and a simple story of what worked can be multiplied and find success many times over. Have an evangelism success story? Did you engage your community in a fresh way? How did you find success in your recent funding campaign? Spark will provide an organized and running list of what works in ministry that will inspire new and modeled ingenuity so that innovation might take flame.
Staffing: Spire Network is partnered with staffing professionals and ministry team leaders to help provide services for finding the right staff and the key leadership to work with your team and congregation. After all, staffing is one of the greatest challenges facing the church and is paramount in fulfilling your mission. Over the coming months, many vacancies will need to be filled and many churches will need solutions to help their staff work through the challenge of common change. Spire Network provides initial access to staffing notices and openings on the Spire mobile app.
“As a young leader in a growing church, I find myself stretched, challenged, and needing encouragement to lead in our new reality,” said Nate Ross, lead pastor of Northside Christian Church, New Albany, Indiana. “What I love about Spire is the network provides an opportunity to connect and learn from other pastors and leaders about what is working, what isn’t, and to be challenged to wholeheartedly follow Jesus as he builds his church.”
Spire Global: With so many countries logging in and sharing in the Spire Virtual Conference in 2020, it became apparent that much of what Spire Network is doing is valued and needed by leaders internationally. Church leaders in South Africa and the Dominican Republic and countries in Europe, Africa, and South America will be among the first to experience an initiative called Spire Global that will work to connect and inspire leaders around the globe through resources, mentorship, and technology.
ADVANCING the Movement
We have much to celebrate. It’s been a tremendous three years of growing Spire Network and providing places for connection, contribution, and collaboration to thrive. Our movement finds itself in a time when our churches have never been healthier, our ideals of independence and entrepreneurial leadership have never been more alive, and our identity as a movement has never been more at risk. Spire Network is striving to help leaders find a connected heritage—a collaborative network of strong independent churches and leaders moving forward through the legacy of our faith together.
“Our movement has always created opportunities for people to connect [and] share ideas and innovation,” said Spire Network president Rick Rusaw. “And with an intentional effort for unity . . . and advancing the call of Christ, we know there is no way to lead but forward. May we be faithful to raise up, encourage, and equip leaders who lead healthy, growing churches as the kingdom advances.”