Renewal + Mission

As a 21st century church leader, you see the need for new approaches to ministry and practice so the body can continue to flourish.

You are not alone.

There are men and women like you across perspectives and geographies ready to share ideas, grow in knowledge, and pursue revival and restoration. Ascent is where we come together.

You have a place in this new, North American Church Movement of leading thinkers, front-line practitioners, and mission-shaped congregations. Here you’ll find thousands of leaders like you who are pioneering innovative ways to share faith and serve communities. Pull up a chair—there’s always room for more.


Ascent is a collaborative movement of like-hearted partners committed to re-engaging and re-evangelizing North America with the Gospel and carrying the Gospel around the world.


Ascent is a collaborative movement of like-hearted partners committed to re-engaging and re-evangelizing North America with the Gospel and carrying the Gospel around the world.

Participating with You in the Movement

Wayne D. Faison

National Coordinating Officer, Ascent

God called Wayne from banking to vocational ministry in 1992 and he currently serves as Senior Pastor of East End Baptist Church in Suffolk, Virginia. He also provides leadership as Growth Venture Development Staff Coordinator at the Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV).

He holds a Doctor of Ministry in Black Church Leadership, as well as a Master of Divinity in Missions, Evangelism, and Church Growth, from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, a Mini MBA from the University of Richmond, and Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from the University of Florida. Wayne lives in Chesapeake, Virginia with his wife Carmen and has two adult daughters.

Chris Backert

National Director, Fresh Expressions US

Working with church leaders to develop new expressions of Christian community—locally, regionally, or nationally—is the passion of Chris’ life. In addition to serving on the initial Launch Team for Ascent, Chris is the National Director of Fresh Expressions US. He has also been involved in launching multiple new mission initiatives over the last 15 years including Ecclesia Network and Missio Alliance. His background includes pastoring and church planting.

Chris holds a Doctor of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary with an emphasis on the future of congregational life and connectedness. He lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with his wife Rachel, daughter Eliana, and son Jase.

JR Woodward

National Director, V3 Church Planting Movement

JR has been passionately planting churches that value tight-knit community, life-forming discipleship, locally-rooted presence, and boundary-crossing mission for over 25 years.

He currently trains church planters across North America as National Director of the V3 Church Planting Movement. He is also co-founder and co-director of the Praxis Gathering, an annual gathering for church planters and missional leaders. He is the author of Creating a Missional Culture and co-author of The Church as Movement. He is an active board member of Missio Alliance, Reliant Mission, and Fuller Church Planting Initiative.

A graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary, JR just finished his Ph.D. at the University of Manchester (U.K.) on the theme of Missional Leadership, Mimetic Desire, and a Theology of Powers. He resides in Seattle, Washington.

Lisa Rodriguez-Watson

National Director, Missio Alliance

Urban church planter, collegiate minister, seminary professor, international missionary, and community development practitioner encompass the ways Lisa has served others for nearly two decades. Her heart to see people reconciled to God and one another has led her to invest her life, family, and ministry in places and people that have often been overlooked, including our undocumented neighbors. In addition to her role as National Director of Missio Alliance, she serves as Associate Pastor of Discipleship and Equipping at Christ City Church in Washington, D.C.

She holds a Master of Arts in Intercultural Ministry from Golden Gate Seminary, is wife to her best friend Matthew, and mom to Nathan, Elias, and Annelies.

John P. Chandler

National Director, Uptick

Leader, connector, author, and influencer, John serves as National Director of Uptick, a network that invests in building and strengthening young Kingdom leaders. Since 2007, Uptick has modeled best-practice recruiting and forming cohorts of emerging influencers. He’s the author of six books, including the widely acclaimed Uptick: A Blueprint for Finding and Forming the Next Generation of Pioneering Kingdom Leaders.

John holds degrees from the University of North Carolina, Princeton Theological Seminary, and Fuller Theological Seminary. He’s married to Mary, dad to two adult sons and daughter in laws, and “Gramps” to granddaughters Nora and Emily. He lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, so he can cheer on his beloved Tar Heels firsthand.

Welford Orrock

National Director, Kairos Initiative

With more than 15 years of ministry experience with youth and young adult ministries in both congregational and campus settings, Welford answers a unique calling to bridge the gaps that exist between the campus, community, and congregations for greater alignment in ministries to college-aged young adults. He specializes in leadership development, fostering mentoring relationships, personality assessments, visioning, and strategic planning for ministry.

He’s a graduate of James Madison University and Duke Divinity School, and makes his home in Richmond, Virginia with his wife Becky and children Abby and Walter.

Dean L. Miller

National Director, Ascent Global

A leader in the mission arena since 1999, Dean has years of experience as a Mission Strategist, Disaster Response Coordinator, and Global Missions Project Manager.  He has a passion for mission learning and engagement. His background also includes work as an Associate Pastor and Youth Minister.

He holds a Master of Divinity from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, is married to Anna, and is dad to Gregory, Adam, and Margaret.

Julie Lukas

Team Operations Administrator

Julie connects teams and tools to serve people. For more than five years, she’s served in her role and brings that experience to Ascent as we launch and grow. She’s a graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania and holds a degree in communications/public relations. Julie and her husband John live in Richmond, Virginia, with their daughters Annie and Emma.


How do I join Ascent?

Get in touch with us today and we will walk you through the next steps to join with us.

What happens after I join?

You’ll be welcomed into relationships where you can both contribute and receive resources that equip you for ministry. You will have the opportunity to join learning cohorts, connect with fellow leaders, attend gatherings, and offer your gifts to the movement.

What impact will Ascent have on my ministry?

Since the resources offered by Ascent can be contextualized to meet your specific needs, they can help you serve more effectively. Learn more on our Offerings page.

What impact can Ascent have on local congregations?

Ascent believes that we can do more together than we can do alone. Through both resources and relationships, local congregations will be impacted by the innate environment of “iron sharpening iron.”

What does Ascent believe?

Ascent affirms the global orthodoxy of the Cape Town Commitment of the 3rd Lausanne Congress held in South Africa.

How can I spread the word about Ascent?

We would love for you to invite others to join this movement. In the coming months, you’ll be able to connect others with us through our social media platforms, blog posts, and newsletter.

How can I get more information about Ascent?

Take a moment to send us your contact information and we will be in touch shortly to answer your questions.

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