a collective of churches that think and act like missionaries

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What We Do


Training—PDX Loft

PDX Loft is Upstream's training mechanism based out of Portland, Oregon. We provide training for churches, church leaders, church planting teams, and missionary teams focusing on the essential skills and tools needed for ministry in todays urban centers ranging from city mapping and cultural exegesis to a theology of the city and more.

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Sending Church

Training, consultation, a roundtable…it doesn’t really matter what you call it — the Sending Church is about helping your church through the process of finding, adopting, and becoming an integral part of another culture. It’s about the church owning the Great Commission. It’s about sending your own to impact the world.

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Jet Set

Traveling mission think-tanks, usually lasting 7-10 days, to major global cities designed to give church leaders a taste of what God is doing around the world. We try to have at least 2 trips a year. Our Jet Set mini-site will give you more details as well as a chance to sign up for our upcoming trips.

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A Sending Church is a local community of Christ-followers who have made a covenant together to be prayerful, deliberate, and proactive in developing, commissioning, and sending their own members both locally and globally, often in partnership with other churches or agencies, and continuing to encourage, support, and advocate for them while making disciples cross-culturally.

Latest Blog Posts

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    Mobilizing Smaller Churches: First Baptist Church in Tishomingo, Oklahoma

    As we’ve said before, the discussion of the sending church may cause some leaders and churches to feel left out. Many of the churches touted as sending churches are large and well-resourced. Why not leave sending up to them, along with missions agencies? It’s a tough question that we want to answer with the help of smaller church […]

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  • Sean Benesh

    Ask-a-Missiologist: How Can Church Planters Think and Act Like Missionaries?

    Ask-a-Missiologist is a series in which we do just that—ask a missiologist a current pressing missiological question. This week’s contributor is Sean Benesh (@mtbikerguy), Director of PDX Loft, Developer of Urban Strategy and Training for TEAM, and author of numerous books including The Bikeable Church and Blueprints for a Just City. In addition to biking his way […]

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  • Nate Irwin

    Ask-a-Missiologist: What are the Ideal Characteristics of a Potential Sent One?

    Ask-a-Missiologist is a series in which we do just that—ask a missiologist a current pressing missiological question. This week’s contributor is Nate Irwin (@globalnater), pastor of global outreach at College Park Church in Indianapolis, IN. In addition to being featured in our Sending Church Stories series, Nate also agreed to share some of what he’s learned over the last 25 years in […]

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Our local church, Sojourn Community Church, had been pouring the majority of our efforts into reaching our neighbors with the gospel as well as planting new churches in needy cities around the country. As we began to realize that we needed to be more intentional in reaching the nations with the gospel, the Upstream Collective was there to help. Our elders were able to take a Jet Set trip around Europe to meet key missionaries and ask the question, “where could we as a church be engaged?” From this trip, Upstream continued to help us explore this question through coaching, exploring new mission opportunities, providing training for our people and through a deep and growing friendship. Sometimes it can be hard to define just what the team at Upstream does. This is because they go above and beyond the norm and find creative ways to help local churches become churches that are intentionally on mission both in their neighborhoods and among the nations.

Our work with the Upstream Collective has helped us put hands and feet behind our desire to be a missional church. Our church now has a strategy that we are using to move our people to be missionaries where they live, work, and play, as well as sending teams into our nation and world.

The Upstream Collective has been a vital part of the planting of Ekklesia Nashville, as well as my personal growth as a leader. My friends at Upstream have taken a personal interest in my life and in our church — mentoring us, advising us in our vision, mission, and strategy, and walking with us through both the painful and joyous seasons. I am eternally grateful for their ministry and influence and recommend that every young church plant join in on the conversation of what it looks like to “think and act like a missionary” in their current context.