Skip to main content

2023 Church Life, Leadership, and Planting Network

  • Image
    two hands holding a bunch of fresh grapes
Equipping Christian leaders with key values and practices for healthy church life

Key values and practices stand out in the scriptures surrounding New Testament local church life, church leadership, and church planting. What was local church life like? How did local church leadership function? How was it that churches seemed able to fruitfully work together on mission in new areas beyond their initial localities?  How can we apply these lessons in our churches today?

Maurice Nightingale and the team working with him at Relational Mission will lead this Network exploring how we can make a diligent attempt in our generation at the implementation of New Testament values in local church life, church leadership, and church planting. This Network will aim to explore values, principles, and practices found in various biblical passages for those involved in senior leadership within a local church and for those leading or seeking to build networks of churches.  Following collective times looking at the scriptures, the themes raised will be further discussed and explored through group work, Q&A, case studies, etc. 

Prior preparation will be set for all applicants.

Applicants should be involved in the senior leadership within a local church or those leading or seeking to build a network of churches. This Network explores values, principles, and practices found in the New Testament for local church life, leadership, and planting. This Track is designed for those who have NOT attended the European Leadership Forum Church Life, Leadership, and Planting Network in previous years.

Network Leadership

Maurice Nightingale is a member of the Relational Mission core team with responsibilities that include the supervision of early-stage church planting on the mainland of Europe, in particular training and coaching pioneer leaders and developing strategies for both initiating and supporting church… Read more

Network Speakers

Jon Beardon is a member of the Relational Mission core team, with responsibilities that include overseeing the team of directors responsible for governance, finance, and communications and directly supervising some of the Relational Mission churches in the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic (… Read more

Mike Frisby is an elder at City Church Cambridge and a trustee of Relational Mission, a network of churches which is part of the global Newfrontiers family. He uses his teaching and pastoral gifts among the… Read more

Maurice Nightingale is a member of the Relational Mission core team with responsibilities that include the supervision of early-stage church planting on the mainland of Europe, in particular training and coaching pioneer leaders and developing strategies for both initiating and supporting church… Read more

Tuuli Platner is the daughter of missionaries and a third culture kid - living in two different continents by age 7 before her family settled in the UK long-term. Now she is all grown up and has the privilege of serving the local church on the student team and God's wider church in her… Read more

Cornelly van Belle grew up on a farm in the Netherlands. As a child she experienced a call from God among the cows to explain the Word of God to people. Cornelly is married to Arjan and they have four young children. Two years ago she moved with her family to Reeuwijk to help rebuild the church… Read more

Network Programme

Sunday, 21 May

Psalm 45 is a song written in anticipation of a marriage. It is written from hearts stirred by love. Embarking on ministry that is focused primarily on tasks, goals, structures, techniques, or programs will lead us inevitably into fruitlessness. The image of marriage and love from the heart is a frequent one in scripture helping us grasp something of the relationship between Christ and His church. We begin this network by exploring and assessing what the key heart motivations within leadership of the local church are. The goal of this session is to help participants refresh their hearts, reminding themselves of why they do what they do.

Do Word and Spirit go together in local church life? What does a church, both mature in the word of God and in stewarding the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit, look like? Often churches emphasise one to the exclusion of the other. Is there a better way? Is it possible to combine robust exegesis of scripture with extraordinary manifestations of the Holy Spirit’s presence? Might the church in the coming days across Europe experience maturity and fruitfulness in both?

Monday, 22 May

This passage of scripture in Acts 20:13-37, where Paul says goodbye to the elders of the Ephesian church, is breathtaking in its emotional intensity. These are not colleagues moving onto another assignment; these are dear friends on mission together. Parting touched their hearts. How can we build such a relational culture in local church leadership teams and across whole networks of churches? We also gain a stimulating insight in this passage concerning true spiritual authority and how it works within a relational framework rather than through title, office, or structure.

In 2 Corinthians 1:11 we read “You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.” Paul in his writings often urges the need for prayer in order that his mission will be be fruitful. He simply cannot conceive that doing what he is attempting will be fruitful at all without large scale, ongoing “prayers of many.” The Church in the global South and East can teach the church in the western world much about gospel advance. One obvious stand-out example is the priority placed on corporate prayer by churches in non-western contexts. In this session, Mike and the team will explore the why and the how corporate prayer in the local church can once again become the driver for gospel fruitfulness it should be. It is the contention of this session that Europe needs a movement of prayer in order to ignite a movement of gospel advance. The one cannot happen without the other.

Tuesday, 23 May

Romans 15 gives an extraordinary overview and insight into the mission, practices, principles, and priorities of Paul, his team, and the local churches working with him. In this session, we will begin to draw up a list of what they did, how they did it, and what made them so fruitful. We will develop some of these themes more fully in later sessions. The goal in this session is to grasp in broad terms what we can learn from their example and apply it to 21st century local church life.

Church history shows the many strategies adopted by church movement pioneers as they look to transition from the first generation of leadership to the next. Some appoint a leadership successor or hand leadership over to a team convened for the purpose, some form a new denomination, while some simply keep going without any strategic consideration for the future. In 2011 Terry Virgo, who had pioneered and led the Newfrontiers movement to that point, commissioned those that he recognised as his spiritual sons to begin to form their own networks of churches. He effectively multiplied the one network led by him, to multiple networks of churches led by men now recognised as network leaders in their own right. These networks were to be autonomous, yet somehow remain collaborative and interdependent. Such radical intentional decentralisation is very bold and some might consider perilous to the future of the movement. It is an uncommon strategy and this session explores whether multiplying autonomous network leaders can be considered an effective church movement succession strategy.

Wednesday, 24 May

Perhaps the greatest need facing the church in Europe today is the need for more leaders. Quality leaders emerge rather than arrive. Training in a classroom context can be a significant component in the development of a leader. However, it is not enough on its own; something more relational is required. Can we learn from New Testament models of ministry development? Can we shape a culture where the multiplication of ministry occurs naturally?

Jesus instructed his disciples to “Go and make disciples.” The scope he gave them in their remit was the whole world; every people group, every place, through all “the age,” until Christ should return. Their instinctive response to this command was not only to share the gospel through words, works, and wonders but to plant local churches in every place as part of the response to the command of Christ. Planting churches was to them not a secondary or afterthought but an integral part of reaching the world with the gospel. The fundamental role of church planting in fulfilling the great commission remains today. Many models and methods exist. Some are fruitful; some are not. In this session we will explore what makes for a healthy church planting environment. What vision, values, vocabulary, and vehicles can help church planting succeed across modern secular Europe today?