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Church Life, Leadership, and Planting Network

Detailed information about the 2021 Forum is not yet available but will be posted in the future. Please review the information from the 2020 Forum for a look at the quality of instructors, teaching, and content that will be available in the 2021 Forum's Networks. 

A note from European Leadership Forum Director, Greg Pritchard: 

Newfrontiers, founded by Terry Virgo, is a flourishing church planting movement that now includes over 2,000 churches in more than 70 countries.  The Lord has given Newfrontiers a uniquely relational and organic approach to church planting. 

Newfrontiers leaders focus on pastoring healthy churches in which believers grow to maturity as a part of a spiritual family.  This beautiful model of a New Testament church family, marked by a commitment to relationships, discipleship, prayer, worship, robust biblical teaching, and pastoral leadership, overflows into fruitful church planting. As believers are discipled toward maturity, they in turn love and care for others adn become Biblical leaders. This organic growth causes Newfrontiers churches to grow in all directions like spiritual ivy. 

In 2011,Terry Virgo handed over Newfrontiers to a number of spiritual sons, one of whom was Mike Betts, who together with a team leads a family of churches, part of Newfrontiers, called Relational Mission.  Relational Mission is a growing family of some 70 churches and young church plants mostly in the UK and mainland Europe.

We are thrilled that Mike Betts and his team will be leading the ELF Church Life, Leadership, and Planting Network to share what the Lord has been teaching them. 

2020 European Church Life, Leadership, and Planting Network

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?

Mike Betts 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.



Mike Betts leads Relational Mission, a network of churches which is part of the global Newfrontiers family.  He is the author of From the Inside Out, Relational Mission: A Way of Life, and a soon to be published book on corporate prayer.  Mike is passionate about the church enjoying her inheritance in Christ, involving church planting, gospel expansion, corporate prayer, and seeing the next generation grow into all that God has for them.  Mike is married to Sue, and they live in Lowestoft, Suffolk, UK.  He is part of the eldership team at Lowestoft Community Church, which he, Sue, and a number of others planted over 30 years ago.  At that time Mike and Sue sought help and advice from Terry Virgo, who had begun to serve emerging churches.  Terry’s work and relationships with churches became the start of Newfrontiers.  In 2011, Terry handed over responsibility for Newfrontiers to a number of his spiritual sons, and Mike began to lead the network that is now Relational Mission.   Relational Mission works predominantly in the UK and mainland Europe but with growing connections across the world. Its network includes some 70 churches of which 30 are church plant and pioneering situations.



Maurice Nightingale, originally from London, joined the Newfrontiers network and completed a master’s degree studying philosophies of church movement succession after being drawn to explore simple New Testament patterned local church and church leadership principles and practices,. Following a short career as a military engineering officer, Maurice has since been involved for over 25 years in two main areas of service; planting churches and rescuing failing churches.  He recently handed over senior leadership of Hope Church Ipswich in the UK and remains a member of the eldership team there. He also serves alongside Mike Betts as a member of the Relational Mission core team. His current responsibilities include the supervision of early-stage church planting on the mainland of Europe, including training and coaching pioneer leaders and developing strategies for both initiating and supporting church plants. Maurice is married, with four children 

Claire Williams is working on a joint PhD with St. Augustine’s and Durham University. Her work investigates the experience of women’s spirituality and practice in Newfrontier’s churches using empirical methodology. She earned a BA from Oxford in theology and, after taking time to raise her family, completed an MA with St. Augustine’s College. She is a speaker and author within the Relational Mission network.




Day 1

Church Leadership: A Love of the Heart Not a Career Path
Mike Betts

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.

The Prayers of Many
Mike Betts

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.


Day 2

The Romans 15 Blueprint for Local Church Life
Mike Betts

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.

Word and Spirit: A Match Made in Heaven
Claire Williams

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?


Day 3

Multiplying Ministry: Raising Spiritual Sons and Daughters
Mike Betts

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?

Relational Leadership / Relational Church
Maurice Nightingale

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.


Day 4

Church Planting: God’s Vehicle for Global Evangelism
Maurice Nightingale

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?

From One Generation to the Next: Church Movement Succession Strategies
Maurice Nightingale

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.

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