Church Planting Conference in Panama

What is the purpose of the church? Pastor Bruce Zachary, from Calvary Nexus in Camarillo CA, and the director of CCPN, began his teaching session with that question to an audience of pastors and leaders in Margaritas de Chepo, Province of Panamá. The question caught them by surprise, because although its one of the most important things we as Christians need to know, not all believers out there have a clear understanding of what is Gods plan for His church. At the conference we considered the need to reach the lost, make disciples, and develop leaders to fulfill the purpose of the church. What a joy it was to see pastors enjoying the teaching of the Word of God, because many of them came from different denominations and never had a chance to be trained for the work of the ministry.

We at Calvary Chapel Panamá prayed for this opportunity, so to actually see this taking place was such a blessing. God used Pastor Bruce to encourage the pastors to teach the Word of God and to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The conference ended with a time for questions and testimonies and we were left with the impression that the teaching was greatly welcomed. A Calvary Church Planting Network Manual was given to all pastors in attendance and what a joy it was to see them blessed to have such a great material in their hands. We pray that pastors and leaders who attended the conference will continue to reach out to the lost, to make disciples and to train leaders; teaching the Word of God and being guided by the Holy Spirit. The final outcome exceedingly surpassed what we anticipated, truly our God is faithful and His ways are past finding out.
We thank God for Pastor Bruce and for the CCPN. We can see how these materials are making an impact in Latin America. We hope to see healthy churches, especially Calvary Chapels, planted and established in each province in Panama, and throughout Central America. Well continue to pray for future opportunities to serve the Lord together and for the possibilities to do the same in other countries in Central America as well.
Pastor Bert Almazan and his wife Veronica went as missionaries to Panama in 2008 and have been used to establish Calvary Chapel Panamá, in Port Of La Chorrera, as well as other churches. Pastor Bert can be followed on Twitter, @panamabert.

Learning From Those Who Have Gone Before

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity once again to attend the Calvary Chapel Western European Pastors/Leaders conference. This year we met at Schloss Heroldeck in Milstatt, Austria. It is one of my favorite places in the entire world to go to. Not only because the location is absolutely amazing, but it has been there, at the “White Castle” (as my kids call it), that the Lord has often spoken to me at critical times in my walk with Him. During the conference, they gave an opportunity for guys to get up and share what the Lord has been doing within the past year or so and they started with new church plants. Since we are only 1 1/2 years old, I raised my hand and was able to share what God has been doing here in Hamburg, Germany. I had no idea what I was to say, but when I got up to the podium and looked out into this crowd of men that I have grown to love and respect over these past 6+ years here in Europe, I could not help but simply say, “Thank you.” You see, I have had the advantage to come behind many of these men, listen to them, learn from them, and ask many questions of them that has in turn helped me out in our current church plant. In this post I thought I would share some important truths to those of you who are in the process of church planting or considering it.

1.      Sit and Listen

As I write this now, I can still remember my first conference here in Europe. The group was not as large as it is now. We were small enough that each of the guys were able to share who they were, where they were serving, and what the Lord had been doing. I was fresh on the mission field, having just left a very large church in Southern California. As I sat there and listened to those men, I could not help but think of how I wish I could record what they were sharing and then play it aloud to all of those whom I knew in Southern California. I believed it would be great for many to hear of the need for laborers here in Europe.

Although I can distinctly remember that first conference, one thing that I have learned over the years is to simply sit and listen to those who have gone before you. There are many things that you can learn from them. No, these men are not perfect, but their lessons may be able to help you with your current situation or help you avoid others.

2.      Ask Questions and Learn

We had been here for three years now and I found myself at the “White Castle” once again, seeking the Lord for our next steps. There I was at the missions conference and I wasn’t going to leave until the Lord had spoken to me. During the conference, I sat down with many pastors and other missionaries, asking them questions and taking notes. One conversation particularly comes to mind that I had with a friend of mine. He had already helped out in a few church plants and had now planted his own church. As is always the case, he was still in the learning process as well, but there is one statement that he told me that I never forgot. “Joey, if there is one thing that you do in church planting, learn this lesson at the very beginning, don’t start without a team.” Was that gospel? Is that the only way it can be done? No, but here was a long term missionary and church planter who had gone before me, who was speaking some “gold nuggets” and I was catching what he was putting down. My dear friends, listen to those who have gone before. Ask the questions. Ask the hard ones and then learn from them.

listen to those who have gone before. Ask the questions. Ask the hard ones and then learn from them.

3.      Get connected to a Trailblazer

Most of you have probably been connected with a “trainer.” How thankful I am for the one whom the Lord put in my life. You see when I started in the process of church planting, this Calvary Church Planting Network was beginning at the same time. So at the time, I was not directly connected with a trainer through CCPN, but the Lord was completely faithful to me and He was already at work well before I saw the need myself. The Lord connected me not only to another pastor/church planter, but one who had also done it on the foreign mission field as I am. Although he served in a different country, with a different people and language than I am currently serving, it has been very important to not only be connected to a trainer (trailblazer), but vitally important to be connected to someone who knows what it is like to raise a family and plant a church in a foreign mission field. All this to say, be praying that the Lord provides for you a trainer that will take the time to invest into you and to the work that the Lord has called you to. Don’t try to be a Superman and do it on your own. Allow God to place someone in your life that will help you through the process.

be praying that the Lord provides for you a trainer that will take the time to invest into you and to the work that the Lord has called you to. Don’t try to be a Superman and do it on your own.

4.      Learn the lesson and Step Out

There is going to come a time that no matter how much you may know or think you know, no matter how many questions you have asked, no matter what trainer the Lord has placed in your life, there will come the time for you to take the steps of faith and step out. Has God called you? Has He made the location clear? Is your wife on board? Then receive this word from the Lord. “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

Joey Roper is the lead and planting pastor of CityLight Hamburg, which you can also follow on Twitter at @CityLightHH.

Reflections on the Northern California and Nevada Pastors’ & Leaders’ Conference

I just returned from the gathering of the Northern California and Northern Nevada Calvary Chapel leaders hosted by Rich Chaffin of CC Laguna Creek. The team at CCLC did an amazing job of extending hospitality at their beautiful campus. Pastor Rich is insightful, generous, Spirit-led, has a great sense of humor, and is clearly loved by the CC leaders of the area.

The group is diverse like the regions represented. The extent of the diversity is to some extent truly unique. Imagine the areas represented: Silicon Valley tech giants and start-ups alike, Bay Area hipsters and former hippies, Steinbeck-esque farming communities, coastal communities renown for giant redwoods and cannabis, rural mountain communities separated from one another and flatlanders alike. These regions are also known for an uncompromising rugged individuality. That dynamic could be aggravated in a movement of autonomous churches who could function entirely independently. Yet there were about 300 leaders who chose to come together to be encouraged, equipped, edified, and to celebrate the great things that Christ is doing in these days in the world and our movement. They chose to be a truly relational network of churches with a common philosophy and theology.

There is a strong heritage of CCA leadership in the region. Pastors Don McClure and Damian Kyle provided a strong platform. Pastors Rich Chaffin, John Snoderly, Bill Holdridge, and Tim Brown are continuing to provide effective Spirit-led leadership that honors our heritage and is moving forward to advance God’s kingdom in the region. I was blessed as usual by the solid Bible teaching of Pastor David Guzik. But what may have touched me the most was the anointed Bible teaching of Nate and Bill Holdridge. The sense of a father and son who are both gifted teachers, leaders, and pillars in the area was a marvelous picture of the influence of the former and new generations in our movement. Same DNA passed to a new generation and manifest with passion and zeal for the new works that Christ is doing. I was inspired by relatively new church planters like Joshua Sisco in San Francisco and Jared Thomsen in Walnut Creek (East Bay) as well as many other next gen leaders that I got to meet.

The sense of a father and son who are both gifted teachers, leaders, and pillars in the area was a marvelous picture of the influence of the former and new generations in our movement.

The regional leaders had a church-planting panel Q&A where I had an opportunity to share the vision of CCPN and participate along with new and seasoned planters. I’m so glad to see session time in a CCA regional conference devoted to the theme of planting CC churches. Truly the health of our movement is enhanced by celebrating church planting and sharing a vision to encourage it. Lord willing the discussion of church planting at our conferences will become typical; and we will continue to plant healthy CC churches throughout the globe. So despite way too many miles in the car in two days I’m feeling wonderfully refreshed in the Lord.

My only complaint: way too many Giants fans for this So Cal die-hard Dodgers fan.

Pastor Bruce Zachary pastors Calvary Nexus in Camarillo, CA. Find out more at He also serves as the Director of CCPN.

ReEngage Conference Video Content

The video content from our recent ReEngage Church Planting Conference in Costa Mesa is now available! We’ll be releasing a few videos each day until they’re all available.

As you’ll see, the videos contain powerful and informative information for pastor, church planters, mentors, and so much more. We would encourage you to take some time to watch the videos as they become available, and make sure to pass them on to people in your social circles.

The video content can be accessed at

We hope you’re blessed by these videos and that you launch out in faith to what God is calling you to!