March 8, 2019 | Andrew Hurst

SAGU hosted the Church Multiplication Network (CMN) START Conference on February 26 and 27.

CMN is the official church planting arm of the U.S. Assemblies of God, dedicated to planting healthy, Spirit-empowered churches in every community in the United States. CMN Start is specifically designed to empower college students, regardless of major, to administer their unique gifts and callings to serve a new church.

Dr. Mike Clarensau, Dean of Bible and Church Ministries, said that the overall student engagement from the conference this year was very positive. “One thing that stood out to me was how much our speakers sought to connect with our students not just from the platform but on a much more personal, individual level,” said Dr. Clarensau. “They were very relational and had a genuine interest in our students and their stories.”

Chapel guest speakers from CMN included pastors, Preston Ulmer and Lacey Hartman.

Ulmer is a SAGU alumnus and church planter who currently serves as the Lead Pastor of Discover Church of the Highlands in Denver, Colorado. After years of seminary work and serving in ministry, he felt there was a need for a church that allows people to grow in community focused on life-giving faith with, or without, certainty.

Hartman has been a pastor and leader for 12 years. She and her husband, Troy, planted Rock Hills Church in Manhattan, Kansas in 2015. Hartman is especially passionate about empowering others as they take their next step in faith.

Preston Ulmer, SAGU alumnus & Lead Pastor of Discover Church of the Highlands
Preston Ulmer, SAGU alumnus & Lead Pastor of Discover Church of the Highlands

Outside of chapel, students had the opportunity to connect with church planters and learn more about the process of church planting. Hartman, Ulmer, and John Davidson, CMN’s Director of Discovery and Development, spoke to various classes during the week shedding light on their ministry. Alex Ferren, CMN’s Special Projects Coordinator, also helped engage students during the week.

CMN speakers were available during the lunch hour to connect with students. “I was very pleased overall with the level of student engagement,” said Dr. Clarensau. “I think our students have always been interested in this but this time, I felt like there was maybe a little bit of a deeper response. Speakers really wanted to engage our students and understand what God was doing in the lives of our students.”

This spring semester, the Church Leadership program launched a new church planting course/specialization to its curriculum. With strong enrollment and student interest in church planting from the course coupled with the START conference, Dr. Clarensau says he is excited for continued progress in this area of ministry. “It’s always been there but it has continued to grow,” he says. “It’s exciting to see some fresh momentum in the area of church planting.”

CMN has been reaching out to Assemblies of God universities to promote church planting for a number of years including SAGU. SAGU has had numerous graduates that have gone on to be successful church planters.