Sherry and I had the privilege of worshiping at Warsaw Wesleyan this Sunday morning with Pastor Jarod and Esther Osborne and their team. Warsaw is another of our district churches that has taken advantage of the UnStuck Group consultation process. In addition to being a gifted leader and communicator, Pastor Jarod is also the author of Jaded Faith (Wesleyan Publishing House). I met with the LBA after the second service to express appreciation for their partnership in the Crossroads District. Sherry and I also enjoyed getting to know the Osborne family (including Michael and Lilly) over lunch.
We left Warsaw and drove to the Wisconsin Dells where we’ll be serving with DS Dan & Reenie Bickel (both with roots in the Crossroads District) for the Wisconsin District Ministerial. Sherry and I have great memories of working with the terrific team members in this district. I would welcome your prayers as I present key insights from “Lead Like Wesley” on Monday and Tuesday.
The week kicked off with our district staff meeting in Upland on Monday before heading to Fishers for the monthly Hispanic Zone meeting. Dr. Norman Wilson led in a Bible study of the first chapter of Romans. We had pastoral team members from each of our 5 congregations and special guests from Columbia and Costa Rica. I love the dream this zone shares to plant at least 20 more Hispanic congregations in the next 10 years.
Tuesday morning I enjoyed connecting with Pastor Tim McClellan and hearing how God is at work at Marion Lakeview Wesleyan. One of the visible signs of progress was new landscaping around the main entrance featuring 3 crosses made and donated by Joe and Wilma Vought, long-time members. I’m grateful for Pastor Tim’s leadership in what has been a challenging situation.
Pastor Jarod Osborne hosted and chaired the Warsaw Zone of Region 1 for lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings in Warsaw on Tuesday. It is always good to be with our pastors as they dialogue about the opportunities for ministry partnership to plant new Kingdom communities.
Tuesday evening, I met with the Advisory Council at Cicero United Family Wesleyan Church as they considered some important decisions they’re making for the future of this ministry. It is inspiring to see the impact that this smaller congregation is making in their community. Pray for God’s direction as they move forward.
Wednesday morning, I was in Elwood to meet with a prospective pastor before heading to Indiana Wesleyan University to meet with Frankie Rodriguez and the planning team for Renuevo, the Hispanic Family Camp that will be held at IWU this summer. My last stop of the day was in Carmel for an LBA meeting at Amistad Iglesia Wesleyana. Pastor Neftali Lopez and his team are committed to reaching their community for Christ.
I was in the classroom at Wesley Seminary again on Thursday to teach the Congregational Leadership class. One of the highlights of this experience is having some of our own district pastors in the course.
Exciting reports are coming in from the Region 2 youth leaders who hosted their all-nighter event with Ross DeMerchant as the keynote speaker. Thank you to Joe Deckard, Jordan DeMerchant, Seth Merrill and the other incredible youth leaders who made this a life-changing evening for our students.
Thank you to each pastor and leader in our Crossroads District Wesleyan churches who invest in the next generation. You are making a difference!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Yesterday morning, I worshiped with Rev. Johnnie Blair and the team at Tipton Trinity Wesleyan Church. Rev. Jason Tash (pastor at Columbia City New Hope) and Rev. Chris Williams (Assistant DS) led the Tipton Trinity leadership through a strategic planning weekend (based on the StratOp process created by Tom Paterson) in partnership with Mark Meyer of the UnStuck Group. This planning process builds on the work that Tipton Trinity did 18 months ago in their Maximizing Impact consultation with Rev. Paul James. There is a remarkable sense of momentum at Tipton Trinity as Pastor Johnnie and Amanda Blair lead the team in focused ministry. Worship attendance is averaging 15% ahead of last year and baptisms have doubled. They are praying and planning toward reaching 500 in average attendance by May 2020.
(We are already scheduling Maximizing Impact and UnStuck consultations for next conference. Please contact our office immediately if your church wants to take advantage of these resources designed to help your church thrive in Great Commission ministry.)
I checked in on the Trinity team on Saturday afternoon and then joined them again on Sunday. After the first service at Trinity and before the afternoon planning session, I slipped over to Tipton Ash Street and was able to bring birthday greetings to Pastor Logan Westrick. Rumor has it that he’s older than 39 years of age but that’s what the sign said so we’ll go with that!
On Monday, February 13, I was with Pastor Rick Mathews at Southview Wesleyan Church for a follow-up meeting with the Burmese Chin congregation that has expressed an interest in partnership with The Wesleyan Church. Their leaders had excellent questions and our discussion concluded with their expression of willingness to move forward in joining our team. Pray as we work with them in taking steps toward becoming part of the Crossroads team by our 2017 District Conference (June 23-24) at College Wesleyan Church in Marion.
Tuesday morning, I dropped in to visit with Pastor Paul & Patty Trent to hear the latest report from their doctor. They were encouraged by the news they had received of Paul’s response to the current treatment regimen. I also met with Doug Shuck, LBA vicechair at Chesterfield Parkview, over lunch. He was enthusiastic in his appreciation for the ministry that Rev. Bob VanCise is providing to the church.
Tuesday evening, I attended Bible Study at The Sanctuary Church and then met after the service with Pastor George Martin to discuss next steps in their affiliate church relationship. Pastor George and Toyin Martin are having a wonderful ministry at this church that they planted 15 years ago. Sanctuary Church is planning a joyous celebration for their 15th Anniversary on the weekend of April 7-9.
Wednesday and Thursday, I traveled with a team from our district to participate in the Unleashed event hosted by Dr. Wayne Schmidt (General Superintendent) and Dr. Kevin Myers (pastor of 12Stone Church) at the Maxwell Leadership Center in Atlanta. Mike Colaw, Jon Wiest, Rob Tippey, Tom Cochran, John & Danielle Freed, and I traveled by van (which brought back a few youth ministry memories).
Dr. Schmidt called together about 100 multiplication leaders in our denomination to ask whether or not it is possible that a denomination like ours might once again become a movement. If so, how might that happen and what would it require of us who lead. The most impactful hour of this event was the corporate prayer time led by Pastor Kevin. If it’s possible, it will only be because of the favor of God so we set our hearts to seek His face. Pray for the ongoing conversations that have been scheduled.
I was back in the Fishers office on Friday and met with Russ Gunsalus and Scott Rhyno about a project they are working on to launch district-wide golf events to raise funds for clergy care initiatives. Crossroads may be one of the first districts to host such an event so we’ll keep you posted as dates and details become available.
Friday night, I had the joy of connecting with our Region 1 youth leaders who hosted more than 600 teenagers for an all-nighter event in Fort Wayne. I brought greetings to the students and prayed with them that God would raise up workers for the harvest here in Indiana. No, I didn’t stay through the night but I do want to thank those who did. Special appreciation goes to Lane Sander and his amazing team of youth leaders who made this evening both fun and meaningful for our students. God is on the move in this next generation. Pray for Jordan DeMerchant and the Region 2 youth leaders hosting the All-Nighter coming up this weekend in Indianapolis!
These are exciting days to be serving together in this corner of God’s Harvest field!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Sherry and I had the privilege of worshiping at New Castle Memorial Wesleyan Church on Sunday morning. Pastor Paul and Phebe Kirk are doing a great job leading this multi-generational congregation. After a high energy worship service, I met with briefly with Pastor Paul and his board. The LBA is exploring additional staff possibilities and adding an additional worship service. There is a growing sense that Memorial Wesleyan Church is on the edge of a breakthrough.
I had the blessing of visiting and praying with Pastor Paul and Patty Trent yesterday afternoon. They have an appointment with the doctor today to learn more about Paul’s response to the treatments. They are standing strong in faith. Thank you to each one who continues to lift Pastor Paul Trent in prayer.
Last week began with Chris Williams and I joining in with the Region 3 – North Zone on Monday morning for their planning meeting. Pastor Don Bayne leads this team and they worked together to prioritize 3 hot spots for church planting from their target rich environment. South Bend and Walkerton were the top two locations while Bremen and LaPorte were tied for third. The next step is that they’re doing initial research to either confirm those choices or to direct us to other possibilities.
Each of our 10 zones will be bringing their top 3 locations for church planting to this year’s district conference (June 23-24) as the Crossroads District mobilizes to plant 100 new Kingdom communities in the next 10 years.
On the way back to Marion, Pastor Chris and I checked in on condition of our Washington Avenue property in Wabash. Later that afternoon I met with Mrs. Nancy Schoonmaker, our District Treasurer, to review financial reports in preparation for our DBA meeting. Many of our churches are tracking along at 100% of USF contributions but there are a few leaders who will need to make an extra effort to help the team finish strong.
Tuesday morning, I was in Fort Wayne for coaching conversations with Pastor Rick Fletcher (LifeWay Church) and then with Pastor Dave Dignal (Edgerton Wesleyan). It was encouraging to hear how God is at work in both of these leaders and their congregations. Pastor Dave had the blessing of baptizing his son in their Saturday evening service. Pastor Rick took time to walk me through their new addition and newly-remodeled children’s ministry area. If you’re looking for creative ideas to update your kids ministry space, it would be worthwhile to check out what they’ve done at LifeWay.
Wednesday morning I had the delight of connecting for breakfast with Dr. Jay Kelser, former president of Youth for Christ and then Taylor University, through the gracious invitation of Coach John Bonham, LBA member at Hartford City Wesleyan. Dr. Kesler was a mentor to Dr. Dick Wynn who was a mentor to Dr. Wayne Schmidt. Dr. Kesler is going strong for Christ at 81-years-young.
Pastor Mick Veach was the guest speaker at the Wednesday morning chapel at IWU. Our family served with Mick and his family in Central Asia. He did a great job challenging the IWU students to be on mission with God. It was good to catch up with Mick after the service and hear more about Mosaic, his church planting adventure in midtown Detroit. Wednesday afternoon, I was back in my Upland office for DBA prep.
The Crossroads District Board of Administration met at College Wesleyan Church on Thursday. We are all grateful for this exceptional team of leaders who guide and guard the mission of our district ministry. Church multiplication is high priority in our district and the DBA decided to reallocated funds to provide $500 scholarships for up to 40 of our leaders to participate in this year’s Exponential Conference in Orlando. The Wesleyan Church provides a pre-conference event that welcomed nearly 300 leaders from our denomination for learning and networking. Information was directly communicated to senior pastors on Friday.
Friday was a catch-up day in the Upland office and I also helped Sherry prepare to host pastors and their spouses from the Region 2 – North Central Zone for supper, singing and prayer. We enjoyed a delightful evening of Christian fellowship with Dr. Mark & Kari Rennaker, Pastor Neftali & Grace Lopez, Pastors Johnnie & Amanda Blair, Pastors John & Danielle Freed, and Pastor Logan & Nancy Westrick. There really is a special bond shared by those who serve in vocational ministry. Each month, Sherry and I will be opening our home to host pastoral couples from a different zone so be watching your email for that invitation.
Several of our district leaders and I will be traveling to 12Stone Church in Atlanta this week for the “Unleashed” conference hosted by Dr. Wayne Schmidt and Dr. Kevin Myers. Our General Superintendent has convened this gathering in response to the focused prayer that our denomination engaged in after General Conference last summer. Dr. Schmidt is casting a vision for The Wesleyan Church celebrating every time a disciple makes a disciple and the church multiplies itself until our church has a transforming presence in every zip code in America.
This week also features the CROSSROADS DISTRICT YOUTH ALL-NIGHTER on Friday in Fort Wayne. Thanks to Lane Sander and his team for organizing this event. You can find out more at this website: https://districtallnighter2017.eventbrite.com/?team_token=1727569-30q39
Pastor Duane Summit (Fishersburg Wesleyan) has an outpatient surgery on Tuesday in Indianapolis and would appreciate your prayers.
Pastor Joe Allen (Albion Wesleyan) is scheduled for back surgery in Fort Wayne on Friday, February 17. He’ll be in the hospital for 2-4 days of recovery and a minimum of 6 weeks recuperating at home. Please keep Joe and the Albion church in your prayers.
Here’s an exciting report from Pastor Tom Bradley to wrap up this week’s update:
“On January 26, 2017 there were 6 persons baptized at Etna Ave. Wesleyan in Huntington. These people range in age from 22 to 76 years young. They were all saved within 10 days of each other. Also, to make this more special, this represents 3 generations of one family, being baptized on the same day. The son-in-law gave a testimony that he had been delivered from years of alcohol. He said: ‘I am free!’ Grandma shouted ‘Praise the Lord! Hallelujah!’ Yes it was quite a day of celebration.”
We join Heaven in rejoicing these lives made new. This is why we do what we do!
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
This Sunday morning, Sherry and I had the privilege of worshipping with Pastor Josh Keesling and the team at Greenfield Browns Chapel. Josh and Alicia have settled into their first year in Greenfield after 8 years of ministry in North Carolina. Josh is originally from the Richmond area and was part of the Fountain City Wesleyan Church as he was growing up. After graduating from Indiana Wesleyan University and Asbury Theological Seminary, Josh served in North Carolina. We’re glad to have Josh, Alicia and Josiah (their 3-year-old son) back home and part of the Crossroads District team.
Happy 7th Anniversary to New Journey Church in Wabash. Launched by Pastor Tom & Sarah Cochran, this community-impacting congregation is now led by Pastor Brian Scramlin. Thanking God for dozens of lives made new through this ministry!
I was in Marion on Monday morning for staff meeting and then in Fishers for afternoon appointments. Tuesday morning began with an appointment in Marion and then I was on the north side of Indianapolis for three appointments.
I had coffee with Pastor Gardner on Tuesday and learned more about the progress that is being made in Westfield as Pastor Jordan Gardner and the launch team at Paradox Church remodel the property and get ready to welcome the community on Easter Sunday. Jordan shared an encouraging story of a young unmarried couple that Jordan and Karen have connected with in their neighborhood. They have agreed to come to check out this new ministry. Paradox Church is being launched to reach hundreds of unchurched people just like Chad and Katie who are searching for answers. Your prayers are making a difference.
Wednesday morning included coffee with Ed Hoover, one of my heroes, followed by sitting in on Pastor Darren Campbell’s teaching team session at the Tree of Life offices. The last appointment of the day was with Pastor Matthew Trexler at River Church. Pastor Matthew shared an inspiring report of last Sunday’s services as the team responded to a prompting of the Holy Spirit to open the service for baptisms. People responded in both of those services and more people were planning to publicly declare their faith in baptism this Sunday.
For ten Thursdays, I am teaching the Congregational Leadership class at Wesley Seminary. It was a joy to welcome Pastor Dave Bever (CrossLink Church in Columbus, OH) as a guest lecturer in the afternoon session. God is doing an incredible work through the ministry of CrossLink and the class was challenged by Dave’s stories of this risk-taking congregation that now averages 800 in worship with another 5000+ joining online.
On Friday morning, Rev. Jon Wiest and the Crossroads District Multiplication Team met in Marion to strategize for next steps. It was exciting to see the doors that God is opening and the leaders that are stepping forward as we believe together for 100 new Kingdom communities in the next 10 years.
One of the first steps we ask leaders to take if they’d like to explore the possibility of leading a church planting team is to complete the Church Planters Profile. Once you’ve completed this pre-assessment tool, contact your regional director for information about next steps. (Region 1 – Rob Tippey, Region 2 – John Freed, Region 3 – Tom Cochran). You don’t have to have a seminary degree or 10 years of experience to be considered as a lead planter. Pray, take the pre-assessment and take a step of faith!
The last appointment of the day was with 10 undergraduate ministerial students from Indiana Wesleyan University who requested an interview as part of their course on History and Discipline of The Wesleyan Church. These are some terrific emerging leaders with great potential to help the church reach the rising generation.
Please join us in prayer for our Crossroads District Board of Administration as we meet in Marion on Thursday. We’ll be considering a full agenda including church planting possibilities for the next conference year.
Thank you for your partnership in the Harvest!
Your servant in Christ,