In some of our communications, you may have heard us reference an organization called Onward. Switchboard has recently partnered with this group, and we wanted to tell you more about how this relationship came about.

I first heard about Onward before it even had a name. Dave Clayton (Ethos Church) and I had numerous conversations over the course of our friendship sharing similar passions about God’s mission, and I always got really excited to hear the parallels in what God had laid on our hearts. Both of our dreams slowly began to become realities separately, and soon Onward was birthed. Onward seeks to be a global family of leaders dedicated to making disciples and planting churches. They are currently accomplishing this through an immersive church planter training experience run in partnership with Ethos Church. The organization is based in Nashville, TN but is working with future church planters from as far away as California, Jamaica and Portugal.

In 2015, I enrolled in Onward and have been working alongside these church planters for several months now. Seeing how their mission paralleled ours, talk of a partnership was a natural evolution. It began in the summer of 2015 as Switchboard was preparing for the pastors training conferences in Uganda. We realized we needed more teachers to travel with us to help equip the leaders there. I really felt God laying my friend and Onward Director, Aaron Etheridge, on my heart, so we reached out to see if he could accompany Switchboard to Uganda – teaching some of the curriculum from Onward. We were so excited when Aaron agreed, and the reception to his teaching was overwhelming. (We talked here about how the pastors in Uganda used what Aaron had taught them to teach their community at the crusades in Lalogi.)

We have prayerfully considered what a relationship with Onward would look like – and we have realized that our organizations are stronger and more effective in advancing the Gospel together than apart. So how do we work together? Switchboard helps cultivate relationships and set the stage with indigenous leaders and their churches. We develop potential connections across the globe to equip and disciple. We establish, maintain and manage these relationships, and we pave the way for the teaching and the discipling resources that Onward provides. Onward provides teachers and curriculum, and helps invest in and disciple these indigenous church leaders. In turn, a network unfolds – a global family of believers, with church leaders from around the world discipling and building one another up. We are excited about moving forward together, hand-in-hand, as we equip the church, advance the Gospel and make disciples.

(If you are interested in hearing more about Onward and their heart for church planting, e-mail Aaron Etheridge at aaronetheridge@ethoschurch.org.)