Yesterday morning, I was privileged to worship with Dr. Mark Rennaker and the team at Kokomo Southdowns Wesleyan Church. Dr. Rennaker not only pastors this church but also leads the THRIVE Initiative for The Wesleyan Church and serves on the Crossroads DBA. I arrived in time to take in Dr. Rennaker’s Sunday School class doing a chapter by chapter exposition of the book of Job. Southdowns is not a large congregation but they faithfully proclaim the Gospel and have been generously supportive of the Westfield Paradox church plant and the recovery efforts from the recent tornado in their community. Rev. Don McDowell and Rev. Ron Hurlocker also serve at Southdowns.
After lunch with the Rennaker family, I headed back to Indianapolis to join Pastor Steve and Karen Russell for the Men’s Day service at Fountain of Life Community Church. Pastor Steve has been doing the hard work of planting a self-supporting church in the inner city for the past 3 years. It has been a joy to get to know him as he continues in the the process of denominational transfer into The Wesleyan Church.
While I was in Kokomo and Indianapolis, Assistant DS Chris Williams was in Anderson with Rev. Paul James who was completing a weekend of Maximizing Impact consultation with Pastor Clifton Ashlock and the fine folks at Memorial Circle Wesleyan Church.
Some of you will know that Rev. James assisted the Indiana Central District last year with 8 of these local church consultations. We are still seeing fruit from those investments in high potential congregations. Pastor Ashlock and his team did a great job preparing their self-study and hosting the event. The consultation began on Friday morning with the pastor’s interview and then continued through the day with one-on-one interviews with ministry leaders. Friday evening, Rev. James conducted a focus group interview.
We were back on Saturday morning for leadership training with 16 of the key volunteer staff at Memorial Circle. The training includes insights from healthy, growing churches and engages the leaders in understanding next steps for their church’s stage in the life cycle. Through the weekend, the consultation team drafted a report that reflects back the 5 strengths and 5 concerns that have been identified by the congregation. The team also presents a prescription to address each one of the 5 concerns. After preaching in the Sunday morning worship service, Rev. James presented the report to the congregation. I’ll be back there on October 9 for a town hall meeting to discuss the report. Then the congregation will take two more weeks for prayer and consideration before voting on whether or not to accept the report and its prescriptions.
I began last week working with Rev. James and his team in Eastern New York – New England District. Paul brings his leaders together for a monthly training event called Success U. He invited me to share leadership insights from writing the book “Lead Like Wesley.” We worked with a group in Malone, NY on Monday and then another group in Albany, NY on Tuesday. This district is a remarkable turnaround story under Paul’s leadership and team development.
Wednesday I was back in the office and participated in a meeting with Dr. Wayne Schmidt, our new General Superintendent, and the Executive Committee of the General Board. After the meeting I joined Dr. Schmidt and Carl Shepherd for lunch at Chick-Fil-A. It was great to catch up with Carl, a member at Indianapolis Trinity, and to hear about his upcoming missions trip to Central Asia. I met with Rev. Larry Moore later in the afternoon for an update on a ministerial restoration initiative.
Wednesday evening, Sherry joined me for the a World Hope 20th Anniversary Dinner at Indiana Wesleyan University. Dr. JoAnne Lyon, founder, and John Lyon, the new CEO, brought an encouraging update on this global ministry that was launched in the bedroom of a Wesleyan parsonage in Warrenton, Missouri. World Hope’s work with orphans and widows, refugees, and victims of human trafficking, is a powerful expression of Christ’s command to demonstrate compassion to the least of these.
John Gorveatte (our oldest son) and I met with Brad LeRoy and then with John Freed on Thursday morning. I listened in on their conversations around the theme, “What do I know about ministry that I wish I’d known at 25?” I left after lunch to pick up Rev. James at the airport, but John went on to interview Jon Wiest and Mike Colaw. My takeaway from these meetings was how blessed The Wesleyan Church is to have such talented and committed pastors.
This week I’ll have the privilege of connecting with most of the pastors of the Crossroads District in our first round of regional meetings. Rev. Mike Colaw, Assistant DS for Region 2 (greater Indy) will host a lunch meeting today (11-2) at Indianapolis Trinity. Rev. Jason Tash, Assistant DS for Region 1 (the I-69 corridor, Fort Wayne/Marion), will host their meeting in Fort Wayne at Three Rivers Wesleyan Church on Wednesday morning, September 28 (9 am - 11 am). Rev. Chris Williams, Assistant DS for Region 3 (the I-65 corridor, Lafayette / Merrillville), at Plymouth Wesleyan Church on Thursday morning (9 am – 11:30 am). We’ll be updating pastors on the opportunities for leadership development (ReEquip in October and Mike Hilson at IWU in January), church revitalization (Maximizing Impact weekends), and church multiplication (100 new Kingdom communities). There’ll be food and great fellowship, so plan to join us!
Our prayers and sympathies are extended to the family of Mrs. Charlotte Ann Eckart, mother of our own Pastor Dan Eckart (Warren Park Wesleyan Church) and Rev. Jeff Eckart (founder of NTS and Claim Your Campus prayer movement). She and her husband faithfully served this same Wesleyan congregations for more than 50 years.
Keep on making a difference in the only cause that counts for eternity: Making Disciples!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent