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
Yesterday morning, Sherry and I had the privilege of worshiping at Chesterfield Parkview Wesleyan Church. This visit had been on the calendar for weeks but it truly felt like a divine appointment as Pastor Paul Trent had just received a diagnosis this week of cancer on the brain. The family, church, and thousands of networked friends around the globe have joined in prayer since receiving the news on Wednesday evening.
Sunday morning, Pastor Paul invited the elders of the church to anoint him with oil and join in the prayer of faith for his healing. I was humbled to bring the morning message and lead in the time of prayer. The text for the message was 2nd Chronicles 20:12 “…We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You.” Please continue to join us in prayer for Pastor Paul and his family.
I also encourage you to remember the family of Rev. Darrell Dennis in your prayers. I was able to meet with family members for prayer at their home just after he passed away on Saturday morning. Rev. Dennis, on loan from the Church of the Nazarene, had been faithfully pastoring Sunshine Garden Wesleyan Church on the south side of Indianapolis for the past few years. He was especially grateful for the members of his extended family that came to Christ during this ministry. The viewing will be on Thursday evening with a funeral on Friday. Pray also for the congregation as they seek God’s direction for the future of this ministry.
Pastor Marc and Heather Ulrich reported 28 in attendance at the preview event this weekend at Merrillville ReThink Church. They are reaching out to the community in creative and caring ways. I know your prayers and support are appreciated!
Last Monday I was in Marion for our staff meeting and prayer. Then I was delighted to provide staff training for the pastoral team at Gas City Eastview Wesleyan. The team was looking forward to welcoming Pastor Mark Atkinson back from his sharpening sabbatical yesterday. I saw Pastor Mark later in the week and he was so fired up he thought he might preach for a few hours!
Monday evening, I met with Pastor Paul Kirk and two other leaders from New Castle Memorial Drive Wesleyan and for consultation and a meal.
Tuesday morning was the first Crossroads District Retired Ministers’ Coffee Fellowship. A terrific group of pastors and spouses gathered at Brookhaven Wesleyan for fellowship, updates and prayer. I was especially pleased that Rev. Ernest Batman, retired District Superintendent, was able to join us. He is a wonderful example and encourager to me. Stay tuned because we’ll be doing more of these!
Rev. Don Pruett joined me for lunch on Tuesday. Don is retired and transferring his credentials into the Crossroads District so it was good to have this opportunity to hear his stories of God’s faithfulness through his many years of ministry.
Wednesday morning I was back on the road for coaching conversations with our pastors. I had the joy of meeting with Pastor Mike Cloud in Rochester. Pastor Mike is off to a strong start leading the ministry of The Cross. The Cross is a vital part of this community serving hundreds of families each month from Matthew’s Kitchen. I’m grateful for Pastor Mike’s willingness to invest in emerging leaders as part of the Region 3 DBMD.
Pastor Ollie Dongell and I connected in Plymouth for our coaching conversation. Plymouth Wesleyan was preparing to host their annual 5k on Saturday. This event is a fundraiser to support the “First Responders” in their community. Pastor Ollie will host the first Region 3 pastors meeting on Thursday, September 29. I am grateful for Rev. Dongell’s leadership of our flagship congregation in Region 3.
My final coaching conversation for the day was with Pastor Eric Roemer at Greentown Wesleyan Church. Pastor Eric had big shoes to fill when Rev. Paul Boss retired. The church is making good progress in retooling to reach the next generation. The church has a long-term commitment to serving the needy in their community with a strong clothing and food bank ministry. They recently completed a first-rate facility to host this growing ministry. I also appreciate Pastor Eric’s commitment to investing in Crossroads District leadership events.
I could hardly wait for Thursday! For the first time since the inaugural Crossroads District Conference, our District Board convened. We have a terrific board! Pastor Steve DeNeff and the team at College Wesleyan graciously hosted our meeting. All but one of our members were present for this important meeting. After caring for a number of administrative items (including receiving reports, approving loans and approving pastoral appointments), the board focused on establishing a healthy governance model after the pattern outlined in Kaiser’s book, Winning on Purpose.
We meet again in November to continue that conversation but the clear mandate for our Crossroads District team is to mobilize disciple-making leaders and multiple disciple-making congregations to impact the 3 million Hoosiers who need Jesus!
Pastor Matthew Trexler (Marion River Church) invited me to join him for a luncheon/seminar in Indianapolis sponsored by the Aspen Group on Friday. (River Church had their highest attendance ever last weekend with 738 present for their fall kick-off event.) The seminar speaker was Doug Parks who shared insights from his work with the consulting team at IntentionalChurches.com. One of my takeaways from that presentation was the responsibility for leaders to make sure that people keep moving. Leaders must be aware of the need for each member in their congregation to take some measurable “next step” (from attending to participating in a group, from participating in a group to serving on a team) in the past 18 months. We must be attentive to the natural tendency of people to get stuck or drift if they’re not intentionally growing.
After the seminar, I was able to join the Trent family in the Anderson hospital waiting room Friday afternoon when they received word from the surgeon on biopsy procedure for Pastor Paul. It was heart-warming to be part of the family prayer circle in the waiting room.
Saturday morning, I had the unique opportunity of joining with Pastor Rick Matthews for a meeting with the leaders of the Chin congregation from Myanmar that have been worshipping in Southview Wesleyan’s building for nearly 10 years. This congregation really feels embraced by Southview and the leaders wanted to explore possible pathways forward to affiliation or full partnership with The Wesleyan Church. It is wonderful to see the doors of ministry opportunity that God is opening for our churches in the Crossroads District.
I’m in New York today and Tuesday for “Lead Like Wesley” seminars with DS Paul James and the Eastern New York New England District pastors. Then back in the office on Wednesday to connect with Dr. Wayne Schmidt, General Superintendent, in preparation for the upcoming General Board meeting.
Pastor Clifton Ashlock and the leaders of Anderson Memorial Circle Wesleyan Church will be hosting a Maximizing Impact consultation team this weekend led by Rev. Paul James. God has truly blessed this ministry in our churches. I encourage you to prayerfully consider hosting a Maximizing Impact event in your church this year. Please contact me directly for more information on this valuable resource.
Don’t miss the Regional Roundtables coming next week! Pastors in Region 1 meet in Fort Wayne at Three Rivers Wesleyan Church on Wednesday, September 28. Region 2 pastors meet at Indianapolis Trinity Wesleyan on Monday, September 26. Region 3 pastors meet at Plymouth Wesleyan on Thursday, September 29. I look forward to each of these connecting opportunities that are essential as we set the direction for our ministry partnership!
There’s still time to register for ReEquip. We have two nationally-recognized speakers and we’ll have a great time learning together! You can find more information and registration at http://www.reequipconference.org/
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Sunday morning, I had the privilege of preaching at Cicero United Family Wesleyan Church as they celebrated their 7th anniversary (since their restart under the ministry of Pastor Wayne Lyon) with an outdoor service under the tent and dinner on the grounds. Sherry and I enjoyed worshiping with the team and I preached outdoors for the first time in years since we used to do “Church in the Park” back in Williston, North Dakota.
At the end of the service, the congregation released balloons with scripture verses and church contact information. Pastor Lloyd and Rhonda Moore are in their 4th year of faithful ministry with the fine folks in Cicero. It was encouraging to see the progress as the church reaches out to serve their community with the love of Christ.
Following lunch with the Cicero congregation, I traveled to Howard Chapel Wesleyan Church, located just south and east of Greentown, for their afternoon service. Rev. David Stout has lovingly led this congregation since 1972! I arrived in time to catch some of Pastor Stout’s lesson in the Sunday School class and he also led us in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. The church has an active ministry at the retirement center in Greentown or the “satellite campus” (as they affectionately call it). Pastor David serves as chaplain at the center holding worship services and providing personal spiritual care.
After enjoying Labor Day at home with Sherry, I was at Wesleyan HQ on Tuesday and Wednesday for District Superintendent orientation. Although I’ve previously served in this capacity, a lot has changed since my last orientation. There is a wonderful spirit in the HQ staff under the leadership of our new General Superintendent, Dr. Wayne Schmidt. Rev. Anita Eastlack (Multiplication and Discipleship) and Mrs. Janelle Vernon (Communications and Administration) are already making their mark in their new roles. It was also a delight to get to know Rev. Jonathon Lewis better. He’s the new DS for North Carolina East and is off to a great start in his new assignment.
Another highlight was worshiping with the HQ staff on Wednesday morning in their monthly chapel service. Rev. Luis Peñaranda preached on God’s scattered people as part of the plan of redemption from the tower of Babel to the Day of Pentecost.
Wednesday afternoon, I had the privilege of connecting with Wes and Susie Munsell from our Crossroads District who serve with Global Partners in Haiti. It was encouraging to hear how generous churches including their home church of Brookhaven Wesleyan and many individuals have come together be the prayer and financial support team for their ministry on La Gonave where Susie teaches nursing and Wes keeps the facility running smoothly. I know several of our churches support additional missionaries who are not part of Global Partners, but I am convinced that our own missionaries deserve our first and best support. Continue to keep the Munsell’s in your prayers!
I was in the Marion office on Thursday to catch up with the team and enjoyed a lunch meeting with Ed Hoover. Mr. Hoover has been developing a spreadsheet that efficiently captures the 10-year data for every church and creates a two-page report with graphics. I’ll be sharing that data as I meet with the DBA this week and with each LBA as we meet through the year. On Thursday evening, I connected with Pastor Steve Martin and the LBA at Sheridan Six Points Wesleyan Church as we reviewed the Maximizing Impact materials for their consultation later this fall. I’ve appreciated getting to know this team over the past year as we worked together through Pastor Steve’s sabbatical. I’m believing with them for great days ahead.
Friday morning, I worked from home and then visited Pastor Darrell Dennis in his home on Friday afternoon. Pastor Dennis is in the final stages of a battle with cancer and is at home with family in hospice care. I know that he and his family will appreciate your prayer support.
Friday evening, Sherry and I drove to Fairmount Camp to connect with the team who do such a wonderful job of hosting the Wesleyan Married Couples Retreat. We talked with one couple who first came to WMCR as newlyweds 21 years ago. Thanks to all who made this a powerful weekend of building strong marriages!
One of the highlights of this coming week will be our Coffee Fellowship with Retired Pastors and Spouses on Tuesday morning at Brookhaven Wesleyan Church. I always enjoy connecting with these heroes of faith and celebrating their contribution to our district.
We’re also looking forward to the meeting with the Crossroads District Board of Administration on Thursday. We have a remarkable group of leaders who are investing their energy and time in providing oversight and direction for our team as we seek to reach the 3 million religiously unaffiliated people in our district. Please lift this meeting in your prayers!
Keep on making a difference in the only cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Sunday morning, September 4, Sherry and I were blessed to minister with Rev. Barry and Joyce Dixon at Calvary Family Church in Indianapolis. This church ministers in a difficult community with limited resources but lives are being changed and the Kingdom is advancing. Barry and Joyce joined us for lunch and it was great to hear more of their story. I’m also grateful that Mrs. Joyce Dixon agreed to serve on our District Board of Administration. Those of you who were at InterChange in June will remember their seminar on “The ABCs for a Ministry Marriage.”
Sunday evening, I met with the congregation at Knightstown Wesleyan Church. Pastor Gail and David Whitmire are resigning effective the end of September. The church is down to just a handful of dear people who really care for each other. Pray with them as they make decisions over the next few weeks.
Last Monday began with our staff meeting in Marion and then I met with Rev. Brian Williams at Sims Wesleyan Church for our annual Coaching Conversation. Pastor Brian is one of several ministers in our district who serves bi-vocationally. The church continues to take steps forward under his leadership and the next project they’re working on is a new sign.
Monday afternoon, I met with Rev. Keith Jones, pastor of our Sonlight Wesleyan Church in Crawfordsville, and Rev. Josh Jones, pastor of the Nazarene Church in Crawfordsville (but no related to Keith), to consult with them in their developing conversation of sharing a worship facility. It was encouraging to learn more about this partnership possibility.
Tuesday, I was back on the road for coaching conversations beginning with Rev. Jared Osborne at Warsaw Wesleyan. Pastor Jarod is off to a strong start in Warsaw. The church has taken some bold steps after a consultation with Dr. Paul Borden and Pastor Jarod was part of the Unstuck Group cohort that Dr. Willis initiated. They realized their daycare had lost alignment with the mission of the church and took the difficult step of closing that program. They’re in the process of updating and repurposing the facility as they aggressively reach out to the 52,000 people in their 20-mile radius who have no religious affiliation.
My next coaching conversation was back in Marion with Dr. Steve DeNeff at College Wesleyan Church. Pastor Steve continues to lead a great team at College Wes with vision and passion. They continue to be ever more intentional about connecting with the needs in their community. With all the demands on his schedule, I really appreciate Dr. DeNeff’s willingness to serve on our District Board of Administration.
Tuesday evening, I was with Pastor Clifton Ashlock and the LBA at Anderson Memorial Circle Church as they make preparations to welcome the Maximizing Impact consultation team September 23-25. The church has taken bold steps in the past becoming a multi-ethnic congregation and, in the past year, relocating to more spacious facilities gifted to them by a nearby Friends church. Pray with them as they seek God’s direction for next steps and even greater Kingdom impact.
Wednesday, I enjoyed coaching conversations with Pastor Mark Atkinson (Gas City Eastview Wesleyan), Pastor Tim McClellan (Marion Lakeview), and Pastor Matt Stewart (Sweetser Wesleyan). I was reminded again that it takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people. Eastview has experienced a strong season of growth as Pastor Mark returned to the church where he had been a staff member. It was fun to catch up with Mark in the middle of his sabbatical and hear the insights he’s been gleaning in his sabbatical.
Lakeview Wesleyan is a church with a great legacy of impact but a church that has also been through some difficult recent experiences. I’m grateful for Pastor Tim McClellan who has brought his wealth of experience to lead this turnaround. They are truly unique as a congregation that offers a flourishing professional counseling ministry and a K-12 Christian school. That is not without its challenges, but Pastor Tim and the leadership team are committed to this vision of ministering to the whole person.
My final coaching conversation on Wednesday was with Rev. Matt Stewart. Matt is leading a turnaround at Sweetser Wesleyan and is personally engaged in the community, serving on the town council. Matt also enjoys working with ministry interns from Indiana Wesleyan University. Matt’s family has adjusted well after their move from upstate New York to Indiana.
Thursday’s dialogues included Pastor Tony Bye at Brookhaven Wesleyan and Pastor Steve Fletcher at Nelson Street Wesleyan. I’ve shared some of the exciting happenings at Brookhaven in earlier updates but this was my first visit to Nelson Street. This church has a rich history but is facing the challenges of many churches in learning new ways to serve a changing neighborhood. They are making inroads with their community garden and addiction recovery ministry. Pastor Steve is open to the possibility of hosting a Hispanic congregation if we can recruit a Spanish-speaking church planter to join their team.
I met with Pastor Ken Dykhoff over lunch and then went back to Fishers for a Thursday afternoon meeting with Dr. Wayne Schmidt, our General Superintendent.
I was off on Friday and then met with Pastor George Martin and the leadership team at The Sanctuary Church in Indianapolis on Saturday morning for a productive discussion on next steps in their affiliate relationship with The Wesleyan Church.
This week’s highlight will be the Wesleyan Married Couples Retreat at Fairmount Camp!
Keep on praying and keep on making a difference in the only cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,