Exponential is a family of multiplication activists. “Rather than any one church growing bigger and bigger, we help to equip church leaders to start healthy, multiplying churches and microexpressions,” explains Exponential Executive Director Terri Saliba. Exponential has engaged in multiplication of its own, expanding to offer content in a variety of formats to reach the Exponential family—especially over the past year.
Initially, Exponential held one annual gathering each March. Now, Saliba and her team informally refer to the March global conference as their “favorite family reunion.” More than 5,000 people attend the four-day conference for inspiration from the main stage speakers, equipping during hundreds of breakout sessions and tons of networking opportunities with others who are also passionate about church multiplication. Pastors and church leaders from more than 50 networks and denominations attend.
“We bring church multiplication leaders together in one place,” Saliba says. “You can find people from across all denominations teaching and learning together in our 200-plus workshop options. They might not all have the same theology, but we all have one common bond: seeing the church mobilized into every nook and cranny of society.”
Many denominations and networks take advantage of Exponential's "conference within a conference" experience. This way they don't have to handle all of the details of creating their own conference. The Wesleyan Church, for example, brings 500 people each year. Upon request, Saliba and her team work with these groups to try to provide space where the groups can hold their own internal pre-conference meetings. She handles many of the details for them so they can concentrate on being together.
In 2016, Exponential began facilitating regional gatherings for those who could not travel to the annual gathering in Orlando. The regionals are based on the same theme as the annual conference, but facilitated on a smaller scale. The gatherings are a day and a half and have about 500 people in attendance. Regional speakers are a mixture of pastors from the host region and national speakers.
Many churches and organizations that attend the annual conference are able to bring their entire leadership team to the regional conferences. Less time away and lower prices allow more constituents to participate.
To bring the content even closer to home, Exponential has created content kits for roundtable discussions that are held at local churches. This enables local churches to bring their networks together to learn and have roundtable conversations on topics like discipleship, mobilization, church multiplication and more. In fall 2020, 70 churches hosted roundtables on racial reconciliation by using Exponential's Divided No More kit. Over 3,000 people attended Exponential roundtables in fall 2020 and spring 2021.
The most recent shift for Exponential to help distribute church multiplication content is the creation of the Exponential HUB. The HUB is a free online training platform that was in the works as soon as the pandemic hit. Though it launched as recently as March 2020, more than 23,000 registered users have accessed the content distribution platform. Five to seven hourlong shows are live in the HUB each week, along with an existing library of shows on topics like church planting, mobilization, the future of the church, healthy teams, leadership and more.
As for the future of Exponential conferences, Saliba says she’s aiming to facilitate in-person gatherings while continuing to offer robust content online.
“We can’t just stop our online community or shut that off,” she says. “There are people who may not be able to afford attending a conference or can’t travel for whatever reason. We are restructuring right now in order to do both live and online with excellence.”
The March 2022 Exponential conference will be in Orlando, and the theme is Empowered: Moving With the Spirit. Christine Caine, Pete Greig and Dave Ferguson are among the confirmed speakers.
What does Saliba envision for the future of churches in general in a post-COVID world—in-person or virtual gatherings?
“Personally, I think it’s going to be a combination of both,” she says. “There will always be the people who long for connection and live experiences. Then there are those who enjoy the comfort of their couches. Why not equip both?”
Top photo: Danielle Smith