The Upstream Collective is celebrating 10 Years of helping churches send locally and globally. We’ve asked people who have been part of The Collective over the years to share how God has used these efforts the past decade to help shape and empower them to live out their sent identity.
Below is a Guest Post from Marshall Dallas, long-time friend of Upstream and the Pastor of Preaching & Vision at Sojourn Montrose in Houston, Texas.
It’s been 8 years. The latter half of 2009 and the early half of 2010 was a seminal time in my life. I won’t bore you with too much personal context, but God was up to something in my life. At the center of that something was an organization that I knew very little of at the time, The Upstream Collective. I had seen an invitation on Twitter from Ed Stetzer for pastors and leaders to join him on a Jet-Set Vision Tour to Taiwan with The Upstream Collective. I was interested and decided to throw my proverbial hat in the ring. Little did I know that trip would be at the center of a missiological tectonic shift in my life.
It was late 2009, and I was 24 years old. Arriving in Taiwan, I came to find out that I was by far the youngest “leader” on the trip as I joined up with a small group of seven other people that included Larry McCrary, Caleb Crider, and Ed Stetzer. Touring the great city of Taipei and hearing from a bevy of missional practitioners, my mind was opened to an entirely different missiological framework. Through Ed, Larry, Caleb, and others, I was introduced to the challenges of Eastern culture, contextualization, city mapping and church planting. All of this was wrapped up in the grand (and yet ridiculously simple) idea that we should think like missionaries everywhere.
All of these “foreign missions” tools immediately became everywhere tools.
Fast-forward to May 2010. I was still 24, but eager to engage with The Upstream Collective again. Larry invited me to join them for another Jet-Set Vision Tour, this time to London and Paris. Having grown up as a missionary kid in Western Europe, I jumped all over the invitation. This time I had a better idea of what I was getting into while learning about a context I was interested in reaching. This time we had a big group with several people that I call friends to this day including Steve Timmis, the Acts 29 Network and an aspiring church planter, Joseph Turner. This was my first exposure to Acts 29, a single-issue network focused on planting churches that plant churches, and one of their church plants starting in my own city, Sojourn Community Church.
As God would have it, I shared a room with Joseph Turner, the planting pastor of Sojourn Community Church, for the ten days the trip spanned. Joseph shared with me his vision for a church that plants churches all over the urban core of Houston. I was working for a megachurch at the time and had never given church planting any serious thought. It was something I wanted to encourage but didn’t feel gifted or called to do myself. As our friendship grew, Joseph continued to ask me to not only join the church plant but consider planting out of their church as soon as possible. During this time, I ended up marrying my wife Nicole who had joined me as a friend in Taiwan and together we began seriously considering Joseph’s invitation to join the effort at Sojourn Community Church in Houston, Texas.
Almost a decade later, I’ve had the privilege of not only watch Sojourn Community Church grow and thrive in Houston but also of planting Sojourn Montrose in a new neighborhood. Beyond that, with the tools and relationships that were cultivated on those two Jet-Set Vision Tours, I now have the privilege of training more church planters to think and act like missionaries everywhere. I get to do this within Sojourn Houston as we work toward planting our fifth and sixth churches inside Houston’s 610 Loop. I also get to do this as part of the Acts 29 Network in Greater Houston which has been my tribe since 2010. I wouldn’t have met or been exposed to either of these relationships without The Upstream Collective.
The last 8 years of my life have been so formative, and The Upstream Collective was the catalyst God used to transform my life into something entirely different than I would have imagined 9 years ago.
The tools and relationships that shape so much of my life now were cultivated through those two Jet-Set Tours. God has extended significant grace to me through The Upstream Collective. What grace might he extend to you?
Since 2009 we have been helping church leaders experience for themselves what it means to be sent. We accomplish this through 7-10 day trips to major global cities. These “traveling think tanks” are called Jet Set Trips. Each trip is designed to expose participants to global missionary skills and a network of global missionaries, allowing church leaders to more effectively build a culture of local and global mission at their church. It’s like a vision trip guided by Upstream leaders.
Interested? Check out more info here…