The right relationships and resources make all the difference in helping people experience the hope of Jesus. And getting started is simple. Starting a church is one of the most fulfilling – and difficult! – things you will ever do. But did you know that 66% of new churches don’t make it to full self-sufficiency within 4 years? Though the stats are daunting, with prayer, wise counsel, and some reflection, we can understand who God created us to be, what God created us to be doing, and what our current assignment is. Today we will talk with Brent Foulke.
Brent Foulke serves as Vice president for global with Stadia. He’s been in ministry for 30 years he has been a lead pastor and I know he has a pastor's heart. He has been in church planting for 22 years since planting his home church in Albany, NY, and helping with many other church plants. Brent and his wife Kay live in Upstate NY, their two sons and their wives are in ministry in PA and IN. They have two daughters in college.
Stadia Website: https://stadiachurchplanting.org/
La Liberte: https://laliberte.live/
Brent Foulke: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brent-foulke-5babab181/
Pastor Larrie Fraley: linkedin.com/in/larrie-fraley-53445032
Larrie: [00:00:35] Welcome to another episode of Let's Go 360. Today, we're going to be talking about church planting. And no better organization to talk about church planting is Stadia. Stadia church planting has been around for a long time. And we're going to be talking today with a good friend of mine, Brent Foulke. He serves as the vice president for Global with Stadia. And he's been in ministry for 30 years and he has been a lead pastor himself. And I know he has a pastor's heart. He has been in church planting for 22 years, since planting his home church in Albany, New York and helping with many other church plants. Brent and his wife, Kay, live upstate New York. Their two sons and their wives are in the ministry in Pennsylvania and Indiana. They have two daughters. Brent, welcome to the show.
Brent: [00:01:27] Thanks. It's a joy to be with you today and to be able to talk with you.
Larrie: [00:01:33] Yeah. You're talking with us from New York. I'm assuming that the weather's perfect there.
Brent: [00:01:40] Actually, you caught us at a good time. It's ideal right now.
Larrie: [00:01:44] Well, I don't think it's going to get much over 105 today. So we're a little jealous. Brent, why don't we get started by why don't you share a little bit about yourself and maybe your personal story?
Brent: [00:01:56] Oh yeah. I love to talk about Kay and the kids. We moved here to New York actually in 1992 to start Christ Church of the Capital District. And at that point we had four little kids from first grade through newborn. And those four little kids have now blessed us with eight grandchildren. And they are, as you said, in the ministry, our two older children, sons are both pastors and our two daughters live nearby. We actually get to go to church with our two daughters and two of our eight grandkids. So we've lived here since 1992 and been in the ministry together since 1982 when we were married. So Kay and I are celebrating our 40th anniversary at the end of this month.
Larrie: [00:02:48] Wow. Wow. Well, our listeners need to know that Stadia is a strategic partner with CCV and Brent and I have traveled to several countries around the world and we look forward to some great adventures together in the future. We've got a couple of projects that I'm sure Brent will mention that we have going on. And so, Brent, how about telling us a little bit about Stadia's story maybe from the beginning, how did it get started and what's it look like today?
Brent: [00:03:15] Yeah, that's it. It's fun to talk about. Just really, 20 years ago, Stadia was born out of a vision that regional church planting organization in Northern California, combined with another regional organization in Southern California and then combined with an organization in Arizona. And ultimately, Stadia was born to be a national church planting agency. Among our Fellowship of Churches and CDF was very helpful in the formation of Stadia, and that continues to be one of our strong supporters. An organization called Provision Ministries actually was formed as an umbrella organization, and for the first 15 years of Stadia's existence, we were part of Provision Ministries. But for the last few years we have been an independent nonprofit with our own board and our own directors who have led us to expand not only nationally, but now internationally. And Larrie and I have had the privilege of working together in multiple countries to think about how we can bring the church to every community on the face of the earth, because Stadia’s vision is that someday, if we are blessed with enough time and God's favor, every child will have a church. But the truth is, today's churches are not enough. And so you and I both know somebody or maybe several somebodies who are growing up in a world where they may not have access to the hope of Jesus and may not even hear Jesus’ name. And so we are here to help you at CCV. You, as individual followers of Jesus, start thriving, growing and multiplying churches to reach that next generation.
Larrie: [00:05:12] Well, we both know that we worked together on CCV’s project when we worked with Compassion several years ago. Could you share a little bit about that story and maybe how that came about and what were some of the results?
Brent: [00:05:26] Yeah, that was a super exciting season for us together. I remember being in Colombia and Larrie came and met me there in Bogota and we had the opportunity to look at both the need and the opportunity to start churches in Colombia that would reach the next generation. And we were privileged to have a great partner in Compassion International who was already there working with children. Compassion, has a rich history of releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name. And in about 12 years ago, Stadia and Compassion began a partnership and developed a model whereby brand new churches could be started and the first buildings built and then a brand new Compassion program could also be started in a community that otherwise didn't have anybody caring for the children. And so this was been a beautiful partnership developing. In the early part of the 2000 teens and Larrie and I met in Columbia in 2017, began thinking about how CCV and Compassion and Stadia could partner to change the face of Columbia. And I'll never forget Larrie looking in the eye and saying, we need to start at least one church for every campus, every site that CCV is ministering in Phoenix. Well, as it turned out, God did far beyond what we could imagine. And in 2017, we began a process of CCV starting 29 churches in 29 different communities across the face of Columbia. And it was it was a moment in time when Ashley said to the congregation, we learned about 10,000 children need sponsors in Columbia. And we said, we'll take them all. And so Stadia and Compassion are just thrilled to be partnered with CCV and to see Columbia begin to change as those children are introduced to Jesus and their needs are met and those churches are thriving. And CCV was instrumental in God making that happen.
Larrie: [00:07:46] Well, I certainly remember those that whole project. And I the other thing I remember which I'm sure God's going to talk to me about someday, was that how little faith I had when we were planning this project. We were looking at the scope of it and the amount of kids that needed help and the amount of churches that needed planting. And I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical. You know, what would happen if our church didn't raise enough money to start the eight churches that I think we had planned? What would happen if our people didn't step up and sponsor, which at the time we would have been thrilled for 5000 people or 5000 kids to be sponsored. And so we went into that weekend, that whole series with me kind of being a little concerned that what's going to happen if if it if we don't deliver, so to speak? Well, we didn't deliver. God delivered and showed up in an amazing way. Perhaps one of the most revealing time of my life that I’ve seen God work firsthand and I saw miracles. You know, the 5000 kids that I was worried about, God, God turned out 11,000, 11,101. The eight churches that I was worried about, God planted 29. And so that was a lesson that I learned to never doubt how big our God is and that we only limit him by our dreams. So we dream big and we're looking forward for future projects.
Brent: [00:09:29] Yeah.
Larrie: [00:09:30] By the way, just read, I don't think I told you. I met last week with Jimmy Molano, who is the CEO of Compassion and with Mary Kamau, who is the CEO of MOHI. And it was so inspiring to watch these two leaders interact and dream about what they could do together in the future. And so I'm excited and excited to see what God's going to do there, because I think our listeners know that MOHI is another strategic partner and we don't have a lot of strategic partners. Stadia and MOHI are two. And so we're getting ready to, to, get into some serious planning about what can happen next year here at CCV with MOHI and Stadia.
Brent: [00:10:21] So yeah, we know you're not alone in the the fear factor that comes in sometimes when we dream about something that we think is big and then God just blows it up. And it's always been God's plan for the church. Churches showed up. Things begin to change. If you look at the institutions across the world that have been founded by the church, it's when faithful men and women have said, we take God seriously and we're going to do what we can and trust him to do things. And amazing things happen. And that has always been God's plan is for the church to come and make a difference in communities.
Larrie: [00:11:09] Right . So what separates Stadia from other church planting organizations? Obviously, there are other church planting organizations. What makes Stadia different?
Brent: [00:11:20] Well, we're convinced that not only is the church God's plan for reaching and discipling the world for Christ, but that healthy churches should thrive, grow and multiply. And that that's what every person on the face of the earth made in God's image deserves is an opportunity to experience the Lord's Church. But when we look around the world, we see that today's churches are not enough. That we need more. And we need churches that are even healthier and multiplying even at a faster rate. Because new churches are the single most effective way to get the good news about Jesus out into the community. The next generation is obviously the generation that is critical in sharing Jesus around the globe. So Stadia is focused on every child having a church, but helping you, helping you as an individual follower of Jesus. Helping your church as a corporate community make this kind of difference. Stadia doesn't actually do the church planting. We are helpers. We're servants of the church. And so we want to make a difference for new church leaders, for the leaders of churches that are already established to become multiplying churches, and for partners like Compassion, like MOHI, to be multipliers in what they do. Because all of us are part of God's grand scheme that no one would perish. Everyone would come to a knowledge of Jesus and experience eternal life.
Larrie: [00:13:05] So what you not only Stadia, does not only plant churches inside the United States, you also plant them outside in other countries. How many countries are you in right now?
Brent: [00:13:16] Yes, we're blessed to be active in 17 countries around the world currently. And there are many more places that we would love to serve. And but we are expanding only when we have the right partnership resources to do so. But we're thrilled with the partners that we have and we see a great variety in the way those partners are reaching people in their unique cultures. You know, in Latin America, we've already mentioned that our partnership with Compassion focuses on child development. Child development centers, partnered with local churches, make a huge impact and reach many people and change communities. In Southeast Asia, we have a lot of tribal evangelists who are working in the jungle, who are establishing churches often that meet in bamboo huts, who have farm programs to help the farmers do better agriculture, thereby strengthening the underlying economic resources of that community. In the meantime, sharing the gospel and baptizing people into Jesus. In some countries where it is technically illegal and very dangerous for churches to be started, our church planters are working as social workers to meet people's basic needs and to love people in the name of Jesus and establish house churches that are in fact changing the face of their country. And then in MOHI’s case, they're starting schools. A new church comes to a community, a school is established. And in a few short years, more than 1000 children are studying, learning, growing, including learning the Bible and learning about God's love for them. They will go out and become church planters themselves, leading new churches. They will also lead in government. They will also lead in business. And those schools, coupled with those new churches, are changing the face of Eastern Africa. We hope that that model goes throughout the continent of Africa in our partnership with CCV.
Larrie: [00:15:29] Well, I know one of the things that you came up with directly, which we're implementing in Moji, and that is to build into the curriculum of the high schoolers and even junior high schoolers, the importance of being a pastor of a church or being part of a church plant so that once the kids from the slums graduate high school, they are already thinking about planting a church. What better way to plant those seeds is during those formative years? And thanks. Thanks, Brent, for coming up with that idea because that’s just exactly what is needed there in in MOHI. Now, I also want to talk about other more innovative, creative ways of church planting. So many times we think about church planting as having a physical church with four walls. And we go through all the logistics and planting and sometimes building, finding a planter and then opening up inside the four walls of a building. But Stadia has come up with a pretty creative, innovative way of starting a virtual church. Talk to us about Fred and what he's doing in the Congo.
Brent: [00:16:41] Oh, my gosh. I could talk all day long about La Liberté, which is a French speaking church. It now has its home base in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. But when Laliberte was born, it was 100% digital, online. Fred and Nadine Libert were living in Montreal at the time, which happens to be just a few hours drive from where I am in upstate New York. And they became part of sort of the awareness of church planting in North America. And several of us, including Larrie, including some other Stadia partner churches, became aware of Fred's call to start a church in the Congo, which is Nadine's home country in the DRC. And but then COVID hit. And so their plans were instantly changed. We did a church planting assessment, which is a discovery process to sort of verify and certify a church planting lead couple. And they passed in a virtual assessment process, flying colors. It was obvious that they're gifted to lead, but they were bound by COVID. They couldn't leave Montreal. So they began to figure out how to start a church online. And they have been extremely successful at gathering people to hear the gospel and not just to hear the gospel, but to begin implementing the work of the church in various communities. And when I say various communities, they have now groups of people on four continents, all who speak French, all who are sharing the gospel and holding small group communities geographically based around the world and gathering online for a weekend experience where Fred and Nadine are teaching them the way of Jesus. They've also since been able to move to Kinshasa and have a local gathering of several hundred people there in Kinshasa as well. So the digital led to the physical and continues to expand the outreach of the gospel, really almost worldwide through one church planting couple. It's very exciting.
Larrie: [00:18:58] Well, just just another example of where Satan had was wanting to take something like COVID to destroy the church or get in our way. And here God turned something like COVID into something positive. And now churches are being planted digitally. And Fred's a good example, and I'm looking forward to getting over there with you, Brent, hopefully next year to where we can kind of see firsthand what's going on.
Brent: [00:19:25] Yeah, that will be great. And Fred is going to be able to make a trip back here to the States and some of your folks at CCV might be able to meet him. And I certainly encourage you to whatever you need to do to have some time with Fred, you will enjoy the experience. He is a big L leader and a delightful young man and wish you could meet his whole family. I think the girls are going to stay in Montreal when they come back. But just a wonderful couple, Fred and Nadine.
Larrie: [00:19:55] Yeah, I'm looking forward to meeting him. We're already making plans for that, by the way. We will have in our show notes links to Fred's website and to his online services so that you can check that out. We'll also have links to Stadia. So you can you can find out a little bit more about about them. The other thing I should mention is in episode five, for those of you that might have missed it, we interviewed Fred. And so you will get a chance to hear Fred firsthand, some of his vision and where the church is going there in the Congo. The other episode, I should mention, is episode 13, which was when we interviewed Mary and Wallace Kamau of Missions of Hope. It's so inspiring to see how God is connecting these great organizations together, these amazing leaders together to spread the Word and fulfill the great commission. So we're excited about what's what's going to happen in the future. What are you most excited about, Brent? What are you. And maybe what? Stadia's big dreams for the future.
Brent: [00:21:02] Yeah. We have really come to grips in this last year or so with the reality that, God, we are so blessed. God has allowed us to help almost 2000 new churches come into existence in our short history. But we also realize that the pace at which we are helping new churches is just not fast enough. If we really believe that every child on the planet needs a church, we have a lot more to go. There are roughly a billion children in the world who don't have any access to a local church. And to reach those billion children, we're going to have to plant tens of thousands of new churches and collaborate together with church planting multipliers around the world to see that happen. So we are actually trying to take a page from what we've most recently seen in this La Liberté example that I just gave you and figure out how we can platform everything we've learned, everything that God has taught us through experiences like Colombia and Latin America and through the churches that we've planted in the United States to multiply more quickly and to help churches become multiplying churches at a faster rate. So Stadia is taking technology and collaborating and developing some innovative methods that we can learn from each other and then offer open handedly to the church planting world.
Brent: [00:22:40] And I might just stop and say, Larrie, you and I use church planting as a shorthand for starting new churches. A lot of people never heard the term church planting before. It just means starting a new church. And really the goal of starting a new church is to create a multiplying movement of new churches. And so we are very much involved in organizing around the principle that everything we've learned we want to share with anyone who will lead a church to multiply or who themselves will become the starter of a new church that multiplies. So we're working with people from all around the world to do this. We're very excited about being able to roll out the very first form of this in the first quarter of next year. But we're very far along already and have had a huge collaboration. Some of the people who have helped in the MOHI collaboration are helping in this church planting platform, church multiplying platform churches like CCV are taking a lead in and investing in the R and D and we're super excited about what that's going to produce in the coming decade. God has been so good to us in the last two decades, but we think the best is yet to come.
Larrie: [00:23:58] Well, I believe that, too. And so we're so happy that you are able to join us in this episode and look forward for future episodes when we can catch up on, you know, what God has God has done since we've talked. Well, thank you for coming. And we'll pray for you and for Stadia. And thanks for joining us today.
Brent: [00:24:19] Thank you, Larrie. I look forward to seeing you soon.