Where Else Does That Happen?
Many years ago, I was on the launch team for a new church starting in Annapolis, Maryland, my hometown. I’d been a part of a young church as a volunteer and extremely part-time worker before, but this was my first time being really, really in charge of something. I was (am?) pretty confident a lot of the time, but I am far from immune from imposter syndrome and fear of failure. And let me tell you: those feelings were way complicated by the fact that I really didn’t know what I was doing and really didn’t have a network of people to reach out to for advice.
The first time I went to Exponential, it was as a part-time staff person taking time off from my full-time, marketplace project management job to hopefully get a little more insight into how to do my part-time worship pastor job at a church plant. It was also nice to get away with the rest of the team from my church and spend some time in sunny, warm Florida. I went to every main session, and I marked my program booklet with the best set of pre-conference labs and mid-conference workshops. I furiously took notes in my admittedly hipster Moleskine, and I compared my tattoos to other church leaders my age that apparently grew up on punk and emo music. I’d say I was in the top 10% in terms of number of tattoos, and probably bottom 10% in confidence I was doing a good job.
After long days at the conference, my colleagues from my church would go out to various events. We went to a barbecue hosted by Stadia at the nearby Vista Cay resort. The next night, we went to another event Stadia was hosting at the Hard Rock Café at Universal. Night three, we went to an event for another church planting organization. At lunch, we’d sit with people in the exact same place we were in with our church as well as people a few steps ahead of us. We talked a lot. We laughed even more.
This job is hard, but sometimes, maybe even a lot of time, it is super funny. We debriefed main sessions and compared notes on workshops. We shared our own victories and failures at our churches. We encouraged one another. We called each other out on dumb ideas. Mind you, we barely knew or in some cases straight up didn’t know each other prior to this. But when you mix the excitement, pain, joy, hope, and ache of ministry with the proximity created by something like Exponential, what you get is the perfect recipe for pressure-cooked intimacy and life-long bonds. We exchanged contact information.
Now, it’s December, 2022
Years have passed. Several times a year, I get together with a group of pastors with whom bonds were forged at Exponential. We text every day. Literally. I received four texts from them while writing this.
Exponential is the best place I know of to meet, learn from, and bond with others on the same journey you are undertaking. Where else can you find a room with hundreds, and at time thousands of people passionate about their communities being transformed by the hope of Jesus just like you are passionate about your community? As far as I know, nowhere.
I hope to see you in March at Exponential, and I look forward to talking about the lifelong relationships you forge there a couple years down the road!
Join Stadia @ Exponential Conference 2023
Stay with us at Exponential 2023 in Orlando, Florida and experience exclusive Stadia events. Plus, comfortably access our entire network of church planters, partners, and friends―Not to mention you’ll score discounted rates for conference tickets and hotel reservations.
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Matt lives in North Beach, MD and is married to Becky Murphy with two kids, Ariella & Rex, and one dog: Ravenclaw. Matt has been a part of four church plants in the DC/Baltimore metro area. Matt was previously the Executive Pastor for Revolution Church in Annapolis, MD, and before that, was the Project Manager for the Siemens Center for Applied Medical Imaging MRI R&D group at Johns Hopkins University.