Sunday morning, I was on the road early headed to Shiloh, located just a few miles north east of Plymouth. Running ahead of schedule, I took a brief detour to drop in on Pastor Mike Cloud and the good folks at The Cross Wesleyan Church in Rochester. There was an enthusiastic welcome and warm spirit of worship as they began their first service (9:15). It’s great to have Pastor Cloud back in the district after his time serving in Ohio and I’m grateful for his leadership on the Region 3 Board of Ministerial Development.
Back on the road again, I arrived at Shiloh Wesleyan Church at the crossroads of 4B and King Road. This is a classic Indiana farming community. Generations have worked the land and raised their families. Shiloh is a thriving multi-generational congregation blessed with energetic younger leaders, in Pastor Rich VanVuren and Assistant Pastor Levi Lehman, and dedicated lay leaders like David and Lisa Knepp.
The service featured a variety of music, including an enthusiastic choir, before the young ones were dismissed for Children’s Church. After the service, I conducted a brief meeting with the Local Board of Administration. I was especially encouraged to hear how the youth program is reaching more than 20 teens each week. If you’ve spent much time around me, you’ve heard me say this: “It takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people.” Shiloh is a wonderful example of a rural, multi-generational church that is still reaching people for Christ for 149 years (founded in 1868).
Last week included some scheduling adjustments. Monday’s schedule included meeting with our staff in Marion, then a lunch meeting in Upland with one of our Wesleyan laymen who serves on the Upland town council.
On Monday evening, I had the privilege of connecting with Pastor Matthew Stewart and the LBA at Sweetser Wesleyan Church. They have been prayerfully considering hosting a Maximizing Impact consultation team and wanted to learn more about the process. I enjoyed our interaction and, as a result of their unanimous vote requesting a team, I’m looking forward to getting to know these leaders better. They’ve already made significant progress under Pastor Stewart’s leadership but they’re not content while there are still people to be reached with the Gospel.
One of the things that excites me about the Crossroads District is our capacity to assist churches who want to become even more effective in their ministry. One of the things that surprises me is the reluctance of some local church leaders to welcome outside help. Both our Maximizing Impact teams and Unstuck Group consultants are available at minimal cost to our churches. Neither the district nor the consultants force a church to make any changes they are not willing to make. There is no penalty for receiving the information and declining to implement the recommendations. The desire is to simply ensure that each church has access to the best information possible to make Kingdom-minded decisions about its future.
Before He healed him, Jesus asked the man beside the pool, “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:6) Only God can heal a lame man and revive His church. But He does allow Himself to be limited by our faith (Mark 6:6) and our vision (Ephesians 3:20).
No, you don’t need a consultation team to assess your current reality, envision your preferred future, and create a pathway forward. Yes, a team of experienced leaders with an outside view can help bring fresh perspective. If you’d like to know more about how your church can access the revitalization resources provided through the Crossroads District Great Commission Fund, please contact our office as soon as possible. We have a few slots left in this conference year and are making plans for the fall.
The Warsaw Zone meeting for Region 1 was rescheduled at the last minute so I was able to work from my office on Tuesday. One of the calls I had that day was to confirm that Rev. Duane Seitz has agreed to serve out the remainder of this conference year as supply pastor at Silver Lake Wesleyan Church.
Wednesday was scheduled for a final class prep day as I got ready to teach Congregational Leadership at Wesley Seminary on Thursday. Thursday was the big day and I enjoyed connecting with these 16 students, several of whom serve in our Crossroads District.
Friday, the District Board of Ministerial Development met in Marion under the leadership of Dr. David Smith. Leadership development is a key aspect of our collaborative ministry as a district team. Those who are called to ministry are nurtured in their local church, educated through our denominational institutions and assessed through our district board before being recommended to our district conference and ordained by our General Superintendent. We are on track to have 10 or more ordinands for this year’s Crossroads District Conference Celebration. Plan to join us on June 23-24, at College Wesleyan Church in Marion.
I love the creative ways that our churches reach out to their communities. Anderson Central Wesleyan Church is rebounding under the leadership of Pastor Jerry Alexander. One of their effective community connections is through their basketball league for children, similar to a well-known national program. In another big step last evening, the congregation voted to remodel their facility and bring on staff to develop a childcare program. The church has more than doubled in attendance in the past 18 months!
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Sherry and I had the joy of celebrating with Pastor Ben and Amanda Capshaw yesterday morning at Elwood Central Wesleyan Church as the congregation held their first worship service in their sanctuary in almost 18 months. The congregation was forced from their sanctuary when the city inspector confirmed their worst fears about a sagging roof line and slapped a “condemned” sign on the door. The entire roof structure would have to be taken off and replaced.
The congregation relocated across the street and began the journey of reconstruction. While the work began on the building, God was doing a good work in the congregation. In spite of setbacks and difficulties, the congregation continued to reach out and grow. In fact, more new believers were baptized last year (12) and attendance averaged 78, both new highs in the past 10 years! And they didn’t just replace the roof, they took advantage of this opportunity to completely update the auditorium with new carpet, chairs, and A/V.
Yesterday morning, nearly 200 people were in attendance for the reopening service. I brought greetings and congratulations from the Crossroads District team. Pastor Ben preached from Ephesians 3:20 and challenged the congregation that this was not the end but a new beginning. He shared a passionate vision of seeing their church used by God to transform their entire community. Congratulations, Pastor Ben & Amanda Capshaw!
Saturday evening, Pastor Marc & Heather Ulrich’s team in Merrillville began holding weekly services at ReThink Church with 48 people in attendance. It’s been a remarkable journey in building relationships and remodeling the old facility to host this new congregation. Pastor Tom and Sarah Cochran and Dr. Nathan Hoover (DBA member) from Expansion Church were there to help out. Pastor Tom even helped park cars and welcome guests. Pray for ReThink Church as they building momentum toward their official launch on Easter Sunday. If you have unchurched friends or relatives in the Merrillville area, please encourage them to check out this exciting new ministry: http://www.rethinkchurch.cc/
Yesterday afternoon, I met with Pastor Walter Wilson and the LBA at Muncie Northview Wesleyan Church. This was our second meeting this month to discuss the future of the church with Pastor Wilson’s planned retirement at the end of this conference year. The LBA voted unanimously to recommend to the Local Church Conference to bring this chapter of ministry to a close and to entrust their property for use in planting a new congregation. This is a bold, visionary, and generous step by a small, aging congregation that is willing to do whatever it takes to reach their grandchildren’s generation for Christ. Please pray as we work with our zone pastors to develop a project partnership and recommend a planting team to launch a new congregation four blocks from Ball State University.
Last Monday evening, our Hispanic Zone leaders gathered for a training time at the office in Fishers. Dr. Norman Wilson (IWU prof and DBA member) is an incredible resource to our growing Hispanic congregations. Pastor Julio Rodriguez (Anderson Memorial Circle) and Pastor Neftali Lopez (Carmel Amistad) share the leadership for this group that meets each month. They are studying through the book of Romans and sharing best practices for outreach and discipleship.
Tuesday morning, we had our staff meeting then I drove to Warsaw to connect with Pastor Jarod Osborne over lunch. Tuesday afternoon, I met with Pastor Don Bayne as part of the pastoral review process and then we met with New Carlisle Wesleyan Church’s LBA who unanimously recommended another 4-year call. Pastor Don continues to effectively lead the church after 22 years. They’ve made significant changes in the past 2 years, including moving to the Accountable Leadership model of governance. As part of that, Pastor Don has a ministry leadership team that he meets with twice each month. I enjoyed sitting in with them as they reported in for planning and shared accountability.
I spent most of Wednesday in the office before heading over to IWU to hear Pastor Heather Kinnan Semple speak at Spiritual Life Week. It was encouraging to see the strong number of students who turned out and they were very attentive to Pastor Semple’s powerful message. You would not be surprised to know that more Wesleyan students attend IWU from the Crossroads District than any other district. What happens in these formative years shapes the next generation of our denomination so your prayers for IWU are vital.
Thursday morning, the District Conference planning team met at College Wesleyan Church in preparation for our time together this June 23-24. Assistant DS Chris Williams is leading this team and they are working diligently to make this event memorable.
Thursday afternoon, I hosted a prospective church planting couple in Muncie. They are an experienced and gifted team who are seeking God’s direction and open to the possibility of joining the Crossroads team in a new venture. Pray that God would send laborers into His harvest field!
Friday morning, I sat in with Dr. Jim Lo and the Region 1 DBMD for interviews with licensed ministers who are nearing completion of the ordination preparation. It was a delight to see this team thoughtfully and prayerfully engage with these emerging leaders. Then, on Friday evening, Sherry and I were in Fort Wayne for supper with Crossroads District youth leaders who had gathered for fellowship and encouragement. Andy and Sarah Jellison were the hosts and Pastor John & Danielle Freed were the guest speakers.
Andy Jellison is the point person for the Crossroads District – Region 1 – Youth All-Nighter on Friday, February 17th at The Chapel (2505 W. Hamilton Rd. S, Fort Wayne, IN 46814). Doors open and registration begins at 6:30pm (with a pre-Rally from 7:30-8pm). In addition to a message and time of worship, the event includes: Skyzone Fort Wayne, the YMCA, Crazy Pinz, and Ultrazone and the return of Laser X!
On Saturday evening, Sherry and I met with Pastor David & Rev. Emily Hines, and Dr. Richard & Rev. Carol Schenck, to host Rev. Joshe Bose, National Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church in Bangladesh. God is doing amazing things in this country with 46 Wesleyan churches recently established and 13 new church plants ready to be organized this year. In addition to two Jesus film teams, Rev. Bose leads 2 orphanages and 3 preparatory schools. Bangladesh and Mozambique are the two fields that the Crossroads District Global Partners Committee has identified for our partnership. Dr. Aron Willis and Dr. Richard Schenck will be traveling to Bangladesh in the next few weeks to conduct a training event for pastors. Our next team will be heading there in 2018.
These are exciting days to be part of the Crossroads District of The Wesleyan Church. Keep on making a difference in your corner of His harvest field!
Your servant in Christ,
Sherry and I had the privilege of worshiping at Hartford City Wesleyan Church yesterday morning. Pastor Tom Parsons and his team lead a warm and welcoming congregation that averages more than 200 in a county with less than 13,000 people. After the morning service and a brief meeting with the LBA, Pastor Tom & Kara and their 5 wonderful children joined us for lunch.
It was encouraging to hear how God has been faithful through the 16 years that Tom has led this congregation. One of the commitments that Hartford City Wesleyan Church made under Pastor Tom’s leadership was to invest 10% to support missions. They’ve baptized 30 new believers in the past few years and their beautiful facility (set on 14 acres) is debt-free.
Last Monday’s meetings began with our district staff connecting in Marion. The last meeting of the day was with the Local Board of Administration at Greentown Wesleyan Church as they reviewed and unanimously recommended the renewal of Rev. Eric Roemer’s pastoral call. I’m grateful for the good work that Eric and Amanda are doing in leading the turnaround at Greentown.
On Tuesday, I met Phil Struckmeyer and Troy Evans for lunch and an afternoon meeting learning about their continuing efforts to catalyze urban church planting through the Nitrogen Network. It is always encouraging to connect with these two long-time friends who were among the first leaders to step out and plant churches with our West Michigan District team. Pastor Troy Evans is working with our team on a potential inner-city church plant in South Bend.
Tuesday evening, Sherry and I enjoyed a delightful evening of fellowship with pastors and spouses in the Marion North Zone hosted at Brookhaven Wesleyan Church. Pastor Tony Bye, our zone chair, organized the gathering but was absent due to the death of his father. Pastor Steve Colter did a fine job filling in as our master of ceremonies. This fellowship was an “after-Christmas” event scheduled by the pastors in this zone who determined that Christmas was to hectic and that it would be more relaxing to connect in January.
Wednesday, I conducted an annual coaching conversation with Pastor Tom Cochran at Expansion Church in Chesterton. Tom and Sarah are doing an incredible job in turning around this ministry and focusing it on multiplication.
From Chesterton, I drove back to meet with Pastor Bill Dixon at Davis Church (near Hamlet). It was encouraging to see the progress that Pastor Bill and the team are making in reviving this rural congregation. I just missed Chip Bos from College Wesleyan Church who had driven over to help Pastor Bill resolve some technical issues with their sound system. I love seeing our churches reach out to help each other!
Thursday morning began with a breakfast meeting as Chris Williams and I connected with Dr. Jim Fuller and Emily Hathaway to learn more about a pilot project they’re rolling out that engages active retirees in meaningful ministry. We’ve invited them to share more about this at our Retired Pastors Fellowship on May 9, 2017.
I met with Pastor Jon Wiest, Crossroads District Director of Multiplication, for lunch in Marion before heading south. I met with a prospective pastor for a brief interview at HQ before heading over to Sheridan Six Points to meet with Pastor Steve Martin and their Local Board of Administration. They are diligently implementing the plan of action from their Maximizing Impact consultation. It’s always a joy to connect with this team.
Pastor Mike and Tina Hilson were with us on Friday and Saturday for an event co-sponsored by Wesley Seminary and the Crossroads District. On Friday morning, Pastor Mike shared the discipleship process at New Life Church in La Plata, Maryland. On Friday afternoon, he shared insights from the new book he’s writing on the leadership principles from the life of Moses. The Saturday morning session focused on becoming a multiplication movement. Saturday evening and Sunday morning, Pastor Mike and Tina connected with Pastor Mike Colaw and leaders of Indianapolis Trinity Wesleyan.
I was encouraged by the strong turnout of pastors and lay leaders from across our district. It really will take all of us working together to baptize 10,000 new disciples, equip 1,000 new disciple-making leaders, and plant 100 new Kingdom communities in the next 10 years. Thank you to all who invested their time in this learning encounter!
Our sympathy is extended to Pastor Tony Bye (Brookhaven) and Pastor Seth Bye (Waterline) on the loss of their father and grandfather, and to Pastor Logan Patriquin on the passing of his grandfather. Once again, I am thankful for the blessed hope we share in Christ’s triumphant resurrection.
There’s nothing that brings more joy in a congregation than celebrating the new spiritual birthdays that are taking place in our church family. Expansion Church and Tipton Trinity both celebrated baptisms yesterday. Have you scheduled a baptism service for the Easter season?
Keep on making a difference in the only cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
This is the week for Mike Hilson’s “Discipleship and Multiplication” seminar that will be co-sponsored by Wesley Seminary and the Crossroads District this Friday and Saturday, January 13-14. Because of our co-sponsorship we’re able to offer this event at no charge to Wesley Seminary students and Crossroads District team members. We do need you to reserve space for you and your team so that we have adequate seating and refreshments ready for you! Here’s the link: CLICK HERE TO RSVP
The seminar has 3 sessions. On Friday morning, January 13 from 10 until noon, Pastor Mike Hilson presents New Life’s map for making disciples. This is a vital conversation as we roll out our denomination’s membership reaffirmation process. Friday afternoon (from 1:30-4:00), Pastor Mike is presenting Moses’ model of leadership as he prepares to release a new book.
On Saturday morning, from 9 until 12 noon, Pastor Mike will teach on “Becoming a Multiplying Church.” The Friday sessions are specifically targeted for pastors and seminary students. The Saturday morning session is designed for pastors, staff and their leadership teams to share together.
Many of you will know that Pastor Mike Hilson cast a vision for becoming a multiplying church when New Life Church was running less than 100 in worship and deeply in debt. Today, New Life is ministering to more than 3000 people each weekend in multiple venues and church plants. I look forward to sharing this learning experience with you as we build capacity to impact the 3 million unreached people in Indiana!
If you don’t know the New Life story, check out this link: New Life Network
I flew to Florida on Monday evening and on Tuesday joined my family and a wonderful group of Mom’s friends for her memorial service at Brooksville Wesleyan Church. Dr. Jerry Pence and his team provided wonderful hospitality to those who gathered. Mother loved having Dr. Pence as her pastor and he brought an encouraging message from God’s Word.
On Wednesday – Friday, I joined with our General Superintendent Dr. Wayne Schmidt and the other district superintendents for our annual institute in Orlando. These sessions included a variety of topics related discipleship and church multiplication. The focused vision is that The Wesleyan Church celebrates every time a disciple makes a disciple and a church multiplies itself until we are a transforming presence in every zip code. With 30,000 plus residential zip codes in the US, we have a great challenge before us but God is stirring across The Wesleyan Church. Focused prayer is bringing unity and clarity. There are exciting days ahead!
Among the items we considered were details of the next Gathering, January 9-12 , 2019 at the Caribe Royale Resort in Orlando. Please put these dates on your calendar and begin budgeting for you and your leadership to participate in this life-changing event.
One of the action items for this new year is to lead your congregation in our first reaffirmation of membership. As many of you will know, General Conference 2016 approved a new model of membership which included the responsibility of members to reaffirm their commitment to discipleship within their local church. There are a number of resources available to assist you at this site: Wesleyan Membership and Discipleship
I was encouraged to receive this email report from Pastor Steve Sparks at Monon Wesleyan Church on the response in his congregation:
“Just finished our Covenant Renewal Service! What a powerful time in the Lord! While our member attendance was not great (some illness, etc), we had 6 visitors with us today! Praising God for His goodness and mercy!” – Pastor Steve Sparks
I look forward to hearing the reports from all of our Crossroads District churches as we complete this first round of membership reaffirmation and deepen our commitment to making disciples.
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
P.S. On a personal note, Sherry and I moved to Upland this weekend. We’ve been looking for a home in the country with some acreage. This one fit the bill (with a small stream running through it) and this puts us halfway between Fishers and Fort Wayne. We’re excited to begin hosting pastor and spouses fellowships beginning in February. We’ll be working through a 10-month rotation so stay on the lookout for your emailed invitation!
Here’s my office view:
Just two weeks until the Mike Hilson “Discipleship and Multiplication” seminar that will be co-sponsored by Wesley Seminary and the Crossroads District on January 13-14. Because of our co-sponsorship we’re able to offer this event at no charge to Wesley Seminary students and Crossroads District team members.
The seminar will have three sessions. On Friday morning, January 13 from 10 until noon, Pastor Mike Hilson will be presenting a session on making disciples. This is always a vital conversation but it is especially timely as we roll out our denomination’s membership reaffirmation process. On Friday afternoon (from 1:30-4:00), Pastor Mike will be presenting new material from a forthcoming book on Moses’ model of leadership.
Then, on Saturday morning, from 9 until noon, Pastor Mike will present a seminar on “Becoming a Multiplying Church.” Every session will be helpful. The Friday sessions are specifically targeted for pastors. The Saturday morning session is designed for pastors, staff and their leadership teams to share together.
Many of you know the New Life story (check out this link: New Life Network ), but when Pastor Mike Hilson cast a vision for becoming a multiplying church their congregation was deeply in debt and running less than 100 in worship. Today, this congregation has expanded exponentially ministering to more than 3000 people in multiple venues and church plants. Don’t miss this event!
I trust you and your family enjoyed a blessed time over the Christmas holiday. Sherry and I had some heart-warming moments with our family. On the eve of Christmas Eve, we worshiped at Waterline Church with Pastor John and Danielle Freed.
On Christmas Eve, I worshipped with Rev. Jon Wiest and the team at Trinity Church East Fishers. It was a remarkable experience to be there this year and to reflect on the changes in the past 12 months. There has been remarkable progress since the congregation of Fall Creek Wesleyan Church voted to become a campus under the leadership of Pastor Mike Colaw and Trinity Wesleyan Church.
Then, on Christmas morning, I was privileged to worship with Pastor Richard Cole and the congregation at Lapel Daybreak Community Church. This has ben a crazy year of transition with the dramatic water damager that forced the congregation out of their facility for more than half a year. The repairs and remodeling of the facility are nearly completed and with occupancy permitted, the congregation was able to be back in time to celebrate Christmas. I appreciate Pastor Cole’s heart for evangelism and celebrated as one young mother stepped forward to receive Christ as Lord on Christmas Sunday morning!
Yesterday morning, Sherry and I worshiped with Pastor Mike Colaw and the team at Indianapolis Trinity Wesleyan Church on Allisonville Road. Pastor Mike is beginning a new sermon series on the book of Acts. Josh Lavender led the worship team and Pastor Cathie Stier-Howie led us in communion to begin the new year.
This week I’ll be in Florida. On Tuesday, I will be participating in my mother’s memorial service at Brooksville Wesleyan Church. Wednesday through Friday, I will be with Dr Wayne Schmidt at the District Superintendents’ Institute.
Thank you again for your cards and notes as our family has grieved the loss of my mother. We are comforted by your prayers and the blessed hope we share in the triumphant resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
These weeks have been a poignant reminder of the brevity of life and the immediacy of eternity. May we never lose sight of the reality that every person we encounter will spend eternity in one of only two realities, either enjoying the blessing of God’s presence forever or separated from God for eternity. Peoples lives hang in the balance. What we do for Christ matters!
Keep on making the difference in the cause that counts for eternity.
Your servant in Christ,