This past week I wanted so badly to go to the Kainos Conference in Memphis but simply was not able.  Efrem Smith, Mark Deymaz, John Jenkins, Derwin Gray and Brian Loritts have helped me so much the past two years through their lectures, books, and conferences.  It’s funny; I didn’t think it would be that hard given how our church reaches other religions and other nations.  Man was I wrong. Our church has been in the midst of transition to diversity and it’s been both exciting and difficult.  Diversity really is about simply loving people like Jesus does.  Do you realize Jesus says we are to love God, love one another, love your neighbors, love your enemies – is there anyone outside of God’s love?  I’m learning the more radical we are with the love of God the more people are receptive to the gospel.  The biggest challenge is we don’t love like God.  Loving gays, Muslims, and different races can get you in trouble with your own religious tribe, not loving them can get you in trouble with Jesus if you are really his!  Can you be his and hate others?  I don’t think so.

As we began to diversify I was hearing stuff behind the scenes at Northwood so I went out of my way to push things from the pulpit.  People would say, “Racial issues are over, don’t say much about it.”  Of course, they were all white.  The African Americans and Latinos would come up and say, “We love it – keep pushing it – that’s why we’re here.”  I assumed this would be a piece of cake for young people given they grew up in desegregated schools.  Not so – just having one person around you who is a minority growing up doesn’t get you in their culture – it only lets them in yours!  I’ve watched young people grapple with it.

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How the Values Passed From NorthWood Led to Church Planting

 Special Guest Post By: Dustin Jones                                                     Vantage Point Church in Haslet, TX

The saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child”, but the reality is that same principle holds true to raising up and sending out church planters. I was fortunate to come on staff with NorthWood and be on staff with them for 10 years as their Student Worship guy and then the Student Pastor. As I was being interviewed for the position, Bob didn’t even talk much about the position I was interested in, no, he was more interested in convincing me to be a church planter. He told me, if you ever want to be a church planter, you just let me know.

I was not interested, and I told him that day, “No, I think I will just be a Student Pastor for the rest of my life”.

It was during my time there at NorthWood that God began to teach me, mold me and instill value in me that would change how I thought about life, ministry, the world and church planting. Here are some of those values that were passed on to me:

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How To Start Engaging the City on Day One

Special guest post by: Scott Venable, Founder & Pastor of New City Church in Chicago, IL. 

When my wife and I first moved from Texas to Chicago with a vision and a calling to plant a church, we didn’t know where to start! We had no core team, knew no one else in the city, and we were going against every traditional church planting strategy and method. Why? Simple: the Holy Spirit told us to go. His calling trumps all of what makes sense. That’s what Scripture has taught me and my own experience has proved it true.

We were being trained and mentored by Bob Roberts, Jr. into Kingdom DNA and how that would lead to a church, which led us to do things quite differently. My wife and I had two choices set before us: 1) we could try and get a core team together, teach them the DNA and then go into our city, launch and start a church; 2) OR we could begin living out this DNA, engage our city NOW and let God build His church. Read more

How to Multiply Multiple Churches

By Kevin Cox, Pastor of Vista Church, Heartland, TX 

I first met Bob Roberts at a day and a half Turbo event hosted by NorthWood. The program centered around four values: kingdom, disciple, society and church. The last three values would later shape our fledgling church plant (and continue to do so today), but it was Bob’s teaching on the Kingdom of God that captured my heart. Bob’s teaching answered the all-important “why?” question: Why should we plant churches? Because the Kingdom of God is not about addition but multiplication! Within the Kingdom of God, we have a new set of metrics. We still measure progress through baptisms, finances and, attendance, but now we also measure fruitfulness by church multiplication.

With such a paradigm shift, how does a church start multiplying? Here are some suggestions:

Instill the vision/DNA of multiplication.

With four kids in the house, life is never boring for my wife, Kathy, and I. At some point all four of our kids have exhibited behavior resembIing Kathy’s or mine. Without fail, Kathy and I will glance at each other and say, “I wonder where they got that from? I’ve never done that, so it must be from you!” The hard truth is that the Cox children have both of our DNA’s within them. Good, bad or ugly, they resemble both of us, act like both of us, imitate both of us, and think like us. As our kids have grown, we have attempted to parent and help shape them into the people they’re becoming, instilling our values and beliefs into their minds and hearts.

When we started Vista Church, from day one multiplication was the vision, value and DNA. We would multiply. We could not wait a month, a year, or for a 10-year anniversary to multiply. If it was indeed who we were, then we would vision-cast it on day one, begin financially preparing for it on day one and be prepared when the opportunity arose. Since then, we have instilled who we are into the people of Vista. Because people are inspired by a vision that is bigger than themselves, our church’s vision for multiplication has often been a drawing point for people to join our church. We’ve shared the multiplication DNA with church planters we have partnered with, and they in turn have instilled this same DNA into their church plants from day one, as well.

Teach the kingdom of God.

Admittedly, I’m a pragmatic person. Show me the blueprint and then let me run with it. My introduction to the teaching of the Kingdom of God was literally a fresh beat of the Holy Spirit in my heart. The Kingdom of God is His rule or reign in my life. The Kingdom of God demands surrender, reminding me that church multiplication is not my idea but flows from the heart of the Father.

Why do we sacrifice money that could easily be used for a “good” event or a staff position in Vista Church? The Kingdom of God. Why do we invest in church planters, their wives and their families? The Kingdom of God. Why do we give away sound equipment to church plants rather than selling it for our own use? The Kingdom of God. Why did a godly and generous family in our church build a training facility on their property so that we could increase the amount of church planters we equip? The Kingdom of God.

When we started teaching the Kingdom of God, multiplication took off.

Learn from others.

There’s something to be said for heeding the advice of those who have traveled the road before you. Church multiplication is indeed an exciting adventure, but it also comes with its own set of pitfalls and tensions. Vista Church was fortunate that God blessed us with many pioneering friends along the way who instilled in us a vision for multiplication, shared strategy and were always available for advice on next steps.

We inquired early and often from people like Bob and Omar Reyes at Northwood and Brian Hook at Hope Church in Las Vegas who had traveled the road of multiplication before us. We learned from some seasoned multipliers. Through their advice and guidance, we avoided many pitfalls along the way and have witnessed God’s favor.

Develop a system that fits your context.

My youngest son, Walker, utterly idolizes his older brother, Jackson. Walker is 9 years old while Jackson is 16. In Walker’s mind, he, too, is 16. Jackson plays high school basketball and baseball, and Walker believes he can do anything Jackson can do. Sadly for Walker, this lack of self-awareness usually ends up with him getting frustrated or worse, hurt.

Unlike Walker, our church has a better grasp on who we are. We are not a megachurch. We are not even a midsize church at the moment. For us to multiply, we need to know who we are and what we’re capable of doing. We don’t pretend to be something we’re not, and we only offer what we can do. Furthermore, we have grown into the system that we’re currently using for church multiplication.

Our initial system of church multiplication was simply committing monthly financial assistance to a church plant in Seattle. From that simple step of obedience, God opened the door for informal training of a church planting couple that joined Vista Church. For a year, he and his wife learned different aspects of church planting while starting a small group in our community. After he graduated from seminary, we had the honor of sending them off to plant in upstate New York. We committed to monthly support, as well as ongoing communication and coaching. Simultaneously, we committed to partner with church plants in Chicago and Ft. Worth. This last year, we added the last piece of our church multiplication system: formalized training. We trained five church planting teams that are planting or will be planting in Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Dallas and Seattle. With each new church planting partnership, another piece of our church multiplication system emerged.

Seven years later, our system is comprised of four components: assessment, training, funding and coaching. We have a training facility built on their own property by a generous and Kingdom-minded couple in Vista Church, Gary and Joyce Moore. We affectionately call it, “The Barn.” Our church planters can use it anytime for retreats or trainings. Joyce and my mother, Paula Cox, did something as simple as hold babies at our Release church planter training so that the wives could participate with their husbands. We have developed a system that fits us. As our church has grown and matured, we have quite literally grown into our church multiplication system.

            We have a saying in our church that undergirds our church multiplication: Size does not determine impact. Numerically, Vista Church is not big, but Vista’s impact on lives and families extends far beyond our own community because of the churches we have helped start.  Big in the kingdom is the ability to multiply. Any size church can multiply multiple churches. Will your church answer the call?




The Power of Working with College Students, Locally and Globally

by Mitch Jolly, Pastor of Three Rivers Community Church, Rome, Georgia

Guest Blogger

One of my first memories of Bob Roberts and Northwood Church was a conference I was attending while a graduate student in Fort Worth. Bob told us about the local and the global and how they are not separate realities but that the local and the global are connected and that it’s not the professional ministry people who will be key in getting the work done, but the key would be those who engage their domains of society as agents of God’s kingdom. As a student I wanted to be one who engaged my domain of society, mobilized others to do the same and equip them for the work. I was a student being infected with the DNA of the kingdom at Northwood. It was not long until Bob and Northwood accepted me into the church-planting program and the infusion of the Northwood DNA began, and that DNA would be transferred to students like me all the way in Rome, Georgia.

As a graduate student Northwood was catching me at a prime time for harnessing one of God’s greatest seasons of life.

College students have long been catalysts for local and global good. Dwight L. Moody saw the fruit of college students when in 1886 his series of meetings led to one hundred college students pledging themselves to the local going global.[1] Numerous examples like this are scattered across history. Some of the best, however, are right under our noses in our colleges and tech schools.

Three Rivers Community Church is settled in Rome, Georgia. Rome has 3 colleges and a technical school. Students from all over the southeast and even a few Yankees find their way to Rome for higher education. Due to the DNA of our fellowship, we get the honor of shaping many college students’ values and infecting their spiritual DNA with the kingdom.

Without a doubt, the local and global work of the kingdom is impacted with these amazing people seeking to advance the kingdom of God.

Over 12 years we have sent countless college students on summer assignments from across town to West Africa to Nepal to South Asia to North Africa and a host of places in-between in spite of our focus on one particular place. As a side note, the more we focus on one place the more students are raised up to engage other places. It seems to be a trend, but that is for another post. 

Many students have tasted these summer adventures and decided to invest their lives in hard places, and some are currently still in those hard places bringing the healing power of the kingdom to bear in their domains of society.

We have watched our students spend summers sampling the world. Those students complete their degrees with a vision. Those students graduate and invest their lives all over the world building hospitals and teaching in schools doing some of the most incredible kingdom work imaginable. We are currently preparing to send one who graduates this May to our global work to be a teacher with a partner organization.

Students who have a global perspective also find their niche in the local domains of society as well. Just this past Sunday I had three young men who have been part of Three Rivers for several years volunteer their services in doing maintenance for a foster home we will be staffing and operating beginning this summer. These guys, as resident assistants in their dorms, pledged the dorms they oversee to the work as well. We have countless stories like these students engaging the local and global domains of society.

Perhaps our college students are our most ready human resource available.

What is it about college students that make them this powerful?

Here are some of my observations.

1. Principled Energy

I’ve been privileged to get to know an increasing number of students whose purpose was to give themselves to something they perceived to be more meaningful as opposed to a job that may net them more money but may also net them less joy.

Couple a principled end with the vigor that comes from being in one’s early twenty’s and the sky is the limit. These guys and gals need very little sleep, they heal fast, they need fewer resources to thrive and they are productive.

2. Oomph

I love the word Oomph. It is another way of saying “full of life”. College students are bubbling with life. They bring life to the party. College students bring joy where circumstances may have done a beat-down on some of us dudes getting weathered a bit. College students can bring Oomph to us pastors and our churches.

College students worship with more vigor. College students volunteer faster. College students are hungry to know God. These things lead to an infusion of life.

3. Flexible

College students are able to do just about anything at just about any time. Most of them are not married yet. Not all, but many have more financial resource that I’ve anticipated they would have. Many are learning the necessity of a value-laden degree not a debt-laden degree, and they are financially able to let go of trappings that can hinder their local and global service. This is a highly agile and mobile group of difference makers that can make a difference.

College students are still learning what singularly makes them passionate. So, they have many passions and they can flex to each one and be solid help in multiple domains.

4. Visionary Sacrifice

The college students involved in our work in Rome have been able to see to an end that they are not the center of, and they are willing to sacrifice the American Dream in order to have it. That kind of visionary sacrifice shows God to be bigger than other petty ends, and it inspires others to imitate their example.

What is the power of working with college students?

The past and the present tell us that this kind of principled energy, oomph, flexibility and sacrificial giving of oneself for a end higher than themselves not only achieves great kingdom gain, but it inspires others in the kingdom to do the same. College students are, arguably, the most powerful human force for good on the face of the planet. And this collegiate human force for good has historically been used by God to begin movements that have had ripple effects for decades. I’d call that powerful.


by Bob Roberts, Jr.

This morning I got up, prayed, read Scripture, prayed some more, journaled, and reflected a lot about where I was this day 20 years ago.  I called my Mom this morning to wish her Happy Birthday – she’s 79.  I asked her if she remembered where I was today 20 years ago, she did.  I was landing in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam for the very first time.  I was nervous.  There were very few westerners there then and even less Americans.  It was 1995 and I had never been there before.  All I knew of Vietnam growing up was hearing about the Vietnam war in the news my entire childhood and teen years.  I remembered having to sign up for the draft like all young men and wondered if I’d have to go.  Now here I was, a place where American was humbled.  As the plane arrived I sat on the runway that Americans had built and a huge airport they had also built.  Runways, jet hangers, buildings – all past reminders of a war. Read more


by Bob Roberts, Jr.

Moses was the least likely to be used to not only deliver a people but establish a nation.   First, a baby, then a Jew, then a murderer, then the wilderness – but everything that has happened is preparation for victory.  Notice – and this is huge – he’s in and out of the wilderness all his life.  We have a false view of the wilderness – it’s that we’ve obeyed God, figured it out, and never have to walk in the desert heat without food and water again.  Moses’ life defies that – he’s in and out of the wilderness.  He doesn’t make it in his human life to the Holy Land.

Once the Jews enter the promised land – it’s a mess of following God and not.  They don’t just build a golden calf and that’s it, once in the Holy Land they wind up doing the exact thing God warns them not to do and worship the idols and gods of the Canaanites, and as a result they face judgment.  They’re at war most of the time, they’re occupied for huge stretches . . . it has to do with if they follow God or not.  Just getting to the promised land didn’t promise “blessed” life, they had to live God’s way. Read more



by Bob Roberts, Jr.

I’ve always enjoyed reading biographies.  I guess I’m like other people asking the question what makes exceptional people tick.  I’ve read several biographies on Jefferson, several on Washington, several on Lincoln – obviously I’ve read biographies of great preachers like Luther, Wesley, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitfield, Moody, and I just bought one another biography on Livingstone.  I’ve enjoyed biographies on Caesar, Alexander the Great, Ho Chi Minh, Alfred the Great, Peter the Great, and I’m about to read a biography on Saladin.  MLK, JFK, RFK, Jobs, Tolstoy, Gandhi, are all people that I’ve learned from their lives in biographies.  All of these were great leaders; I’m convinced none come close to Moses.  He’s head and shoulders above them all – even Abraham, David, Isaiah, the brilliant hard headed Paul and the passionate impulsive Peter.  Read more


by Bob Roberts, Jr.

I sat in a room of Ayatollahs, pastors, diplomats, and professors –primarily Iranians, but also some from the States – about 30 of us in total. The Iranian Muslim two seats down from me made an unexpected and startling statement.  He said, “We say religion is about peace.  Islam means peace.  Jesus was to have brought peace – every religion says it’s about peace, but religion by nature is not peaceful but violent.”  Immediately it went from an inter-faith discussion of faith and violence to an intra-faith discussion among the Muslims.  He was being challenged, but he pushed back.  For about 45 minutes they spoke in Farsi and we couldn’t understand what was being said.  The longer I reflected on what he said, I began to think he was right. Read more


by Bob Roberts, Jr.

To order Jill’s CD, email her at:
To order Jill’s CD, email her at:

For the past year NorthWood Church has been blessed by spoken word prose from Jill King.  It’s new to the NorthWood worship scene, but it’s been powerful.  It has reinforced all we teach and practice, and it’s from one of our own Millennials.  Since hearing her, I’ve started googling “spoken word” and listening to various artists, styles, and messages.  It’s so cool how each generation discovers new art forms and new forms of self-expression.

More than any generation so far in the US, this generation that Zogby and others are now calling the “first globals” have a totally different worldview than those who have preceded them.  I think it’s more healthy and even more accurate to the world that we live in today.  I often get sad thinking of how my generation and the one below it are defining the world and faith in a century and world that no longer is.  This generation will do more to “put the world back together” than any generation ever.  I know that some would say “no way” what about WWII and the 50s.  To put the world back together in the 50s was merely the US industrial complex going global, and imports and exports so the American dream could be possessed by all.  Migration, climate change, globalization, tribalism, economies of scale, technology, travel, communication, and connectivity have made this a truly “glocal” world that has never existed like this before . . . so how do these new Millinneals think?  This CD will give you strong indications on that!  Read more