First Conference as One Focus

VIRGINIA – Pastors and leaders representing more than 30 churches gathered from the eastern United States, England and Germany for One Focus Network’s (OFN) first conference last month! Excitement percolated as guests checked in at the welcome center and sipped hot coffee before Thursday night’s opening session. Earlier this year, the One Focus Network formed when seasoned entities Grace Network and New Life Ministries International joined. But September 28th was the first time everyone met as one network with one focus.

Thursday evening kicked off the conference with worship from conference host New Life Church’s gospel choir. OFN’s senior director Dan Backens shared about what it means to be a life-giving church. This drove home the network’s mission statement, “…exists to advance life-giving churches throughout the United States and around the world.”

Guest speakers included Stuart Bell (leader of Ground Level Network and senior pastor, Alive Church, England); David Ireland (founder and lead pastor, Christ Church); Larry Kreider (founder, Dove Christian Fellowship International); and Chris Johnson (founder and lead pastor, Divine Unity Community Church).

Members of R5 Church and Piedmont International Church came together forming Friday morning’s worship team, beginning the second day on the right foot. One-hour downloads in the afternoon ranged in topics including personal leadership effectiveness, elder training and developing prophetic worship. Life-giving conversations and laughter were constant. “I came out of the conference with a renewed sense of ministry direction and hope for the future,” shared Mario Biazon, pastor of Living Faith Christian Fellowship.

After Grace Covenant Church Harrisonburg’s team led worship on Friday night, Dr. David Ireland broke down the Power of a Question. He encouraged everyone to ask themselves four questions: 1. Is this sustainable? 2. Am I speaking to everybody? 3. Am I fulfilling my purpose? 4. Am I fulfilling my potential?

Saturday anchored the new network when the Executive Leadership Team (ELT) was installed during a powerful time of prayer. The ELT members are Dan Backens (New Life Church); Jack Groblewski (New Covenant Christian Community Church); Merle Shank (Grace Covenant Church Harrisonburg); Kevin Turpin (Life Enrichment Center) and Joseph Umidi (Regent University). The time ended in a personal way. Everyone took communion in small groups and several leaders prayed prophetically over each attending church and ministry. Old and new friends lingered afterwards indicating that special relationships can be forged when there is One Focus.

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