During the pandemic, Cru Global Church Movements (GCM) staff members around the world have switched to online training and discipleship. As they have taken steps of faith to use digital tools, it has been a fruitful year. Was there a way to increase momentum still more? “Mobilize others through us” is one of the prayer points of Pray2020.
Last year, GCM staff held successful “Bold Moves” conferences in Greece and Ethiopia. Over 400 GCM leaders and partners gathered. Big strides were made in church planting and partnerships.
This year, with Co-Vid travel restrictions in place, Cru Vice President for GCM Bekele Shanko proposed an online conference for the nearly 2,000 GCM staff members, plus partners, located in 140 countries. As far as the global GCM staff team knew, no one in Cru had ever attempted this type of conference.
Global GCM staff member Wade Mantlo commented, “One reason our previous conferences were so fruitful was that we placed a high value on small group interaction and discussion. Great things happen when you bring leaders together and let them interact over mission-critical content. We did not want this to be a three-hour webinar where people just sat and listened to presentations. But we had limits to how many people we could allow to join one online video call and still have small group interaction.”
At this point Dennis Sink, one of the global team members, had the idea of linking Zoom calls together to broadcast the same content simultaneously around the world. This would enable the conference team to have as many breakout room discussions as they wanted.
The team decided to go for it. Content was recorded and edited; invitations were sent out, and people began to register in eight different language groups.
Little by little, the pieces came together. But when it was time for a dress rehearsal with the 22 people involved, things did not go well. While the Florida-based conference team tried to coordinate with the live facilitators from Albania and Moldova, some of the computers hosting the Zoom calls wouldn’t connect, and the audio didn’t work on others.
“It was time to pray for wisdom once again!” Wade said. “After several hours, we were able to figure things out, so we asked all of the people involved to come back and try again. Things went better the second try, and it looked like it would work.”
The morning of the first day of the two-day event, technological difficulties showed up again. The team scrambled to get the networked computers working, while translators were having trouble logging on and people from around the world were trying to join the calls.
“Up until one minute before we started, we were still having problems. But as we began the meeting, things started working! It was amazing,” Wade related. “We were able to link ten Zoom calls together, which allowed over 1300 people to connect from 116 countries. There were 225 small breakout room discussions of five to six people each. People were energized and began sharing their action points in a global discussion page we set up.
“We really did not know how many people were really on the calls or where they were. Imagine our surprise when we got a picture (top) from a remote village in Mongolia. Over a dozen local leaders had gathered in a house to watch the conference and discuss the content together.”
The team is now hosting a series of “Bold Moves” online conferences to cover more topics, encourage the worldwide GCM staff and keep the momentum moving forward.
“We are thankful to be part of what God is doing around the world,” Wade commented. “The gospel is being preached, and there is an amazing multiplication of house- and family-centered churches.”