By Avonlea Brown
The Synergy Initiative officially launched on March 15, 2023, after a year of planning by Dr. Jon Wood, Dr. Jeremy Kimble, and others at Cedarville University.
“Our hope is that students will recognize the amazing training they are already receiving in the classroom and beyond here at CU and think about how they will use that strategically as a disciple of Jesus Christ,” Kimble said.
It continued on campus on April 5 with a guest speaker, Executive Director of Pillar Network Nate Atkin, who brought the encouraging and challenging message of Acts 13 to students in the morning chapel service.
“My hope is that you will leave here with a renewed love for Christ and his church and his commission,” Atkin said as he began his sermon.
The sermon touched on missions, church planting and the importance of “Christ’s precious church.” Atkin emphasized the mission of all Christians to make disciples and how that translates for some to planting churches.
Atkin presented a balanced view of church planting and all that it requires, giving an account of the benefits and the costs of living for the church, and it was left to the student body to respond. Later that day, they did.
The chapel service was supplemented by a panel in BTS 101 at 3 p.m. with Atkin and guest speakers Erik Spohr and Chris Bernstein. Kimble also attended the panel as the host and contributed to the panel.
Spohr and Bernstein both participate in church planting in Ohio. Spohr is the Pastor of Centerville Christian Fellowship and Bernstein is the Pastor of Trinity Church in Dayton, both churches are attended by Cedarville students.
The number of students in attendance required a larger location, so the event moved to BTS 115. Even with the change of location, it was standing room only with students lining the back wall.
The panel began with all three speakers discussing their efforts to plant churches, offering advice and clarity as to what church planting really is. Kimble asked questions throughout their
“I didn’t have a proper understanding of what a church planter was. A church planter is just a pastor who wants to preach in a church that doesn’t exist yet.” Bernstein said about his own journey.
“Church planting is best in plurality,” Atkin said about the logistics of church planting. “If you can have a good team of 10 to 20 people with different gifts that all want to be involved in the planting and growing of churches, then that is all you need.”
‘I don’t know that there are any specific gifts you need to be a good church planter, just begin with being a good member of the church you’re currently attending.” Spohr said about what students can be doing now. ”Just serve, get involved, and the Lord will bring you where you are needed.”
Atkin, Spohr and Bernstein took turns answering each question, expanding upon each other and offering additional information when needed. The conversations moved from personal experience to ecclesiology, the challenges of and basic needs in current church planting.
“This is gonna be a long, slow, hard road,” Spohr concluded. “The kingdom work is not about what’s easy.”
The panel ended at 3:50 p.m. with readings from Acts 1, 12 and 13 and prayer. Students were invited to approach the panel speakers with any additional questions they had, and several students stayed behind as the rest filed out to continue on their day.
“I think what they are doing with this panel is really amazing,” said Levi Kigar, a sophomore Biblical studies major. “I love that they are promoting church planting and emphasizing the importance of being intentional with our lives for Christ. I can’t wait to see what they do with the Synergy Initiative in the future.”
The Synergy Initiative will continue in the fall semester of 2023 with more panels and workshops meant to prepare willing students to be a part of church planting and discipleship.
Avonlea Brown is a sophomore Journalism major and the Campus News Editor for Cedars. She enjoys reading, traveling, and learning new things.