The Upstream Collective and Larry McCrary have been vital partners with LifePoint Church to see the launch of the Belgium church planting team successfully planted into the European context. I want to highlight the ministry and let you hear from Larry about missional engagement.
Tell us about your family and your present place of ministry.
I am from Knoxville, Tennessee. My heart is orange though this Fall we are not talking about that much. My wife Susan is the Foreign Language Department head for Black Forest Academy in Germany. She is also a teaches Spanish and works with children with learning difficulties. We have two children. Megan lives in the states where she attends college and our son Parker is a student at BFA. We have lived in Europe (Spain and Germany) since 2001.
How did you begin the Upstream Collective?
A couple of years ago Caleb Crider and I began dreaming about what would it look like to start a network that would focus on helping the church think and act as a missionary. For me it came out of my own church planting experience in the United States. I was a part of 8 church plants in different roles and positions from a team member to the lead pastor. My one “do – over” would be that while I led our churches to be engaged in our community I did not do a very good job of having them engage globally. Missions would be something we would get to someday, when we were larger, more stable, better budget and more bandwidth for ministries we would get involved. This was a mistake and I am so happy to see many new churches are engaging early in the life of their church.
What are the primary goals of Upstream Collective?
The Upstream Collective (UC) is a group dedicated to providing churches and mission networks with ideas, resources and services that help the church think and act as a missionary.
What do we do?
UC helps churches think and act as a missionary by:
1. Influencing the mission conversation. Key ways UC influences include writing blogs, articles and books; speaking in churches as well as at conferences; providing media resources for churches and mission networks; and drinking a lot of coffee with an assorted host of U.S. and national church planters and leaders as well as missionaries.
2. Stretching churches’ expectations and vision. Through story-telling, fostering innovative ideation with churches and dreaming together. We see churches moving toward taking ownership of and acting on a call to mission that is often larger than the original big dreams that the church leadership was envisioning.
3. Facilitating the sending church. Whether its giving the idea, the permission to pursue it, consulting on vision or training in implementation and coaching, UC is holding up a model of churches that are biblically sending and holding the ropes for their sent ones.
What are JetSet tours?
The Jet Set Tour isn’t your typical mission trip. Then again, the people you’ll meet won’t be your typical missionaries. Jet Set Tours are hosted in various cities in Europe and provide a week-long opportunity for you to experience a European culture not only through tourism, but by learning about the people. We will prayerwalk the streets of Barcelona’s Gothic neighborhood. We meet with artists in Rome and talk to Christian businessman about what church is like in Zurich. We ask professors in Madrid about the worldview of the students they teach.
The point of Jet Set Tours isn’t that you come in and present the gospel to the masses. The point is that you first listen, then learn, then live out the gospel as you meet individuals – much as you would if you were to move to Europe yourself.
Jet Set Tours feature a variety of activities to help you catch the vision for the host cities: prayerwalking, orientation to local worldviews, interaction with local believers, introduction to formal and informal ministry already being done and plenty of time to enjoy the attractions, but with the same purpose in mind. Everything during your time overseas with Jet Set is to help you envision how God would have you, your church and individuals from your church participate in His work overseas in a first-person, hands-on way.
How can someone get involved in one of the tours?
You have been writing lately about the Sending Church, why is the Sending Church important to you?
We believe Jesus gave the Great Commission to the church. Because of this, the church must remain central to mission strategy throughout the process from deployment through exit. UC helps churches find a way to have an incarnational presence on the field. We love our partnership with Lifepoint and their team to Belgium. It has been fun watching them grow as a team and prepare to be cross cultural workers. We are excited about what God is doing with them as they follow Him. We seeing more churches have an interest in sending their workers as teams from their church to the mission field.
How can someone get involved with the Upstream Collective?
Getting involved is quite easy. You can follow us on our blog. We have a monthly newsletter that comes out that you can subscribe to. We are often speaking all over the country and in Europe so this newsletter keeps you up to date. You can also email me at email@example.com if you want to find out how to get involved more personally.
If you would like for us to talk to your church about Upstream and our ministries please write me and we can begin the conversation.