Sunday morning, I had the privilege of worshiping with Pastor Paul Walden and the congregation of 18th Street Wesleyan Church in Muncie. This is one of our smaller congregations but they make up in prayerfulness what they may lack in size. I arrived in time for the Sunday School class taught by Brother Pope, a faithful 84 years young. After preaching the message, I was invited to share a pitch-in luncheon with the congregation.
Last week began with Monday’s staff meeting in Marion and then a meeting with Zach Coffin at HQ in Fishers. Zach is the newest member of the Church Multiplication and Discipleship (CMAD) team leading the next generation ministries (youth and children) for our denomination. I know you’ll enjoy getting to know Zach and Becca, his wife who is also an ordained minister.
Tuesday, I was back in Marion for the organizational meeting of our Crossroads District Multiplication Team. Pastor Jon Wiest (Indy Trinity) leads this team with includes a church multiplication champion in each region. Region 1 is represented by Rob Tippey (Fort Wayne Level 13), Region 2 is represented by John Freed (Noblesville Waterline), and Region 3 is represented by Tom Cochran (Chesterton Expansion). Matthew Trexler (Marion River) champions our recruitment connection with IWU and Raleigh Pedro (Sheridan Six Points) champions our connection with Hispanic church planters. We were delighted that Dr. Ed Love, new Church Multiplication Director at CMAD, could join us for this session.
The next key connection for our pastors and ministerial students will be the Church Multiplication event at Wesley Seminary with Pastor Mike Hilson on January 13 and 14. Please plan to join us for this important conversation as we work together to plant 100 new Kingdom communities in the next 10 years.
Leadership development is another key ingredient to accomplishing our mission. We’re working together to equip and deploy 1000 new disciple-making leaders by 2025. More than 100 ministerial students are already in the Crossroads District leadership pipeline.
On Tuesday evening, I met with Dr. Richard Schenck and the Board of Ministerial Development at Noblesville Lakeview Wesleyan in Region 2. This terrific team will be working with ministerial students in the Indianapolis region.
Our district staff worked through noon on Wednesday before commencing for the Thanksgiving break. I trust you and your loved ones enjoyed a Happy Thanksgiving. This uniquely American tradition is rooted in gratitude to God, that most biblical of values. It is also a wonderful opportunity to connect with family and friends.
Sherry and I were blessed to have all of our children together in our home for the first time in 18 months. We made memories together running the Noblesville Turkey Trot 5k on Thursday morning, sharing a wonderful meal together in the afternoon, and then closing out the day together at the Colts-Steelers game. We squeezed lots of laughter into 48 hours. As exciting as it is to have them come home, it is always bittersweet saying good-bye on Saturday as they headed back to their places of ministry.
While we all have much for which to be thankful, this Thanksgiving we were also reminded of just how fragile life is when we received news that Pastor Duane and Cindy Summit’s granddaughter, Mecenzie, passed away from injuries sustained in the traffic accident mentioned in our previous update. Funeral arrangements are not yet set but your prayers are appreciated for Mecenzie Bickel’s parents, Bobby and April, and her extended family.
We are also requesting prayer for Mrs. Becky Bannach, wife of Rev. David Bannach (Assistant Pastor at Hartford City). Becky is in the hospital in Potsdam, New York after surviving an auto accident that totaled her vehicle. Here is a note that Pastor David shared on Facebook:
“Thank you everyone for the continued prayers for Rebecca Farrey Bannach. I arrived at the hospital around 515pm. She is doing fairly well, though she is not out of the woods yet. I spoke with doctor via phone and he said that there are several internal injuries that they are monitoring to make sure they don’t get any worse. Please continue to pray for her comfort and recovery. Appreciate prayers for the kids as well. Thank you.”
This coming weekend, Pastor Chris and I will be part of the Maximizing Impact consultation serving Pastor Ryan Budde and the leadership team at Jonesboro Westview Wesleyan Church. Pray that this will be an encouraging and insightful weekend for this congregation.
Thank you for all you do to advance the Kingdom!
Your servant in Christ,
Sunday morning, Sherry and I worshiped with Pastor Jordan and Karen Gardner and the launch team at Westfield Paradox Church. Eighteen adults gathered for planning and training as they prepare for a spring launch. Our time together concluded with Holy Communion. Sherry and I had the privilege of hosting the Gardners for lunch. Please keep this team in your prayers as they build bridges to the unreached in their community.
Last evening, I joined Pastor Steve Martin and the wonderful folks at Sheridan Six Points Wesleyan Church for the Town Hall that is held as a follow-up to the Maximizing Impact consultation our team conducted on the first weekend of November. These town halls are helpful opportunities for conversation and clarification as the congregation prayerfully considers their response to the consultation team’s prescriptions.
One of the realities of being a district superintendent is leading or attending meetings. Some people might see that as an occupational hazard of denominational service. I see meetings as an opportunity. When you have the right people in the room working on things that really matter, board meetings are anything but boring!
I had the privilege this week of attending the General Board meeting for The Wesleyan Church (Monday night – Wednesday noon). Dr. Wayne Schmidt, our new General Superintendent, put together an engaging agenda for our time together. The Executive Cabinet has been working diligently since General Conference. It was encouraging to see the synergy and alignment that has already developed among this leadership team. The priorities that have emerged from the last months of focused prayer are: 1) discipleship and 2) multiplication.
One of the phrases they shared that captures this focus is: “Celebrating every time a disciple makes a disciple and a church multiplies its ministry until The Wesleyan Church is a faithful presence in every zip code.” I am enthusiastic about the unity and clarity coming out of this meeting of the General Board.
Thursday, our Crossroads District Board of Administration met at HQ in Fishers. We have a wonderful team of representatives from across our district. They invested quality time in discussing and then adopting a policy governance model. This model is familiar as the alternative LBA model in the Discipline and is sometimes known as the Carver or Kaiser model. The model calls for the Board to clarify mission, set guidelines and hold the leader accountable for results. You’ll be hearing more about this as we move toward district conference. We also received multiple reports and approved new staff appointments including Seth Merrill joining Pastor Don Bayne’s team at New Carlisle and Zach Miller joining the Pastor Steve Martin’s staff at Sheridan Six Points.
Friday evening, Sherry and I participated in the UnStuck Group consultation that Assistant DS Chris Williams and Rev. Jason Tash led for Noblesville Waterline Church. This intensive strategic planning process engaged 15 of Waterline’s leaders in 18 intense hours of evaluation and assessment to set the course for the next season of ministry for this young church. Pastor John and Danielle Freed have done a remarkable job leading this ministry to vitality and great days are ahead.
Saturday morning, several of our Hispanic ministry leaders joined me at Marion College Wesleyan for an inspiring conversation with Pastor Alex (Alejandro) Sicilia. Pastor Sicilia leads a dynamic ministry in Mexico City that partners with Pastor Steve DeNeff and College Wesleyan. One of the key ingredients of his ministry is a clear and intentional path of discipleship and leadership development. After the meeting, I hosted our team for lunch and continued the conversation about Hispanic ministry opportunities here in Indiana. Dr. Norman Wilson and Mrs. Raleigh Pedro are a tremendous blessing to have on our Crossroads team to serve our Hispanic congregations.
Saturday afternoon, I had the joy of visiting with Pastor Paul Trent as he’s home recovering from intensive cancer treatments. Pastor Paul and Patty are standing strong in faith and are counting on your prayers. They both gave testimony to the many ways that God has been proving Himself to be faithful in this valley!
In other developments across our district team, Pastor Jerry Alexander led the Anderson Central Wesleyan Church in a Homecoming Celebration with Rev. Keith Hinton and Tom Hinton as special guests. At last count, more than 220 folks had gathered for this special celebration.
Pastor Marc Ulrich and the team at Merrillville ReThink Church hosted a preview gathering last evening. They are gaining momentum as they prepare to launch in the new year. Please keep Pastor Marc and Heather in your prayers!
Pastor Ben Capshaw and the team at Elwood Central Wesleyan are making progress on the reconstruction of their sanctuary after significant deterioration had forced them to meet in the fellowship hall for several months. The church continued to grow in the midst of this difficulty but everyone is excited to see this project completed.
Thank you for all you do to advance the Kingdom!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
I’m grateful for opportunities to extend our ministry in the Crossroads District to others across The Wesleyan Church. Sherry was in Wisconsin District last weekend for their women’s retreat. Together we were in Pittsburgh for meetings on Monday and Tuesday. Then, on Wednesday morning, I flew out to Kansas City to connect with DS Ed Rotz and share a “Lead Like Wesley” seminar for their district pastors on Thursday.
Friday, I flew to Sioux Falls, SD, and preached twice on Saturday and twice again on Sunday at Celebrate Community Church. I finished the weekend with a “Lead Like Wesley” seminar for their leadership team. Pastor Keith Loy and his team have embraced the audacious vision of sending out 50 church planting teams from Celebrate in the next 10 years. It was inspiring to spend time with the key leaders who are fueling this vision.
In between, I’ve stayed in touch with our pastors via email, text and phone calls. I’ve heard encouraging reports such as news that the pastors of the North Central Zone in Region Two held their pre-Christmas fellowship supper on Friday evening at Tipton Trinity Church. Thank you for Pastor Johnnie and Rev. Amanda Blair for hosting this event. I heard the only thing better than the food was the volleyball game!
Pastor Lyle Breeding and Blufton Sonlight Wesleyan Church are hosting Rev. Mark Schnell for revival services this week. Evangelist Ken Gates reports a wonderful sense of God’s presence in the worship service he led yesterday morning at Kirklin Wesleyan Church.
Pastor Eric Roemer and the team at Greentown Wesleyan Church are remodeling their sanctuary to create additional office and classroom space.
Pastor Duane Summit’s daughter and three young grandchildren were in an auto accident on Saturday and one of grandchildren continues to be in critical condition. Your prayers matter!
Pastor Paul Trent has completed his series of treatments. This has been an exhausting process but he is thankful for the prayer support he’s receiving from our district family.
This week I’ll be in meetings beginning on Monday evening with the Executive Committee of the General Board. The full General Board gathers on Tuesday and Wednesday. Our Crossroads District Board meets on Thursday in Fishers. Then, on Friday, I’ll be with the Unstuck Group consultation team at Waterline. Saturday morning, I’ll be in Marion with our Hispanic leaders as we host Pastor Alejandro Sicilia from Mexico.
Thank you for all you do to advance the Kingdom!
Your servant in Christ,
One of the best investments we’re making as a district is to serve local churches with a Maximizing Impact consultation. This process involves an extensive self-study that provides insight into the foundations of the church. Every church has a creation story and values that it has developed through its growth and development. This self-study, of the congregation’s current realities and the community context for ministry, is carefully considered by the LBA and other leaders.
The Maximizing Impact (MI) consultation team arrives on a Friday to interview the pastor and key ministry leaders. Friday evening, the team conducts a focus group with a cross-section of the congregation.
On Saturday, the team leads a church health seminar for the leaders of the congregation. Following the seminar, the team meets with the lead pastor to present a preliminary report. On Sunday, the lead consultant preaches in the morning worship service on Great Commission ministry and presents the MI report to the congregation.
Approximately two weeks later, a town hall is hosted for the congregation to review and discuss the recommendations in the report. Then, approximately two weeks later, the congregation votes to either affirm or decline the report. If affirmed, the pastor and LBA have a 12-18 month action plan to focus the ministry of the congregation on the primary mission of “making more disciples for Jesus Christ.”
This past weekend, Pastor Steve Martin and the team at Sheridan Six Points Wesleyan Church hosted a Maximizing Impact consultation. This is a wonderful congregation led by a gifted pastor and spouse. They have one of the most attractive facilities and spacious properties in our district. While they continue to experience changed lives, the ministry’s growth and development has not kept pace with the Kingdom potential presented by the changing demographics and population increase in the zip codes around them.
The Maximizing Impact team, led by DS Paul James, encountered a congregation that was well-prepared to take advantage of this investment. Pastor Steve led the congregation in preparing through prayer. Mrs. Trudy Hopkins did a terrific job as project manager in directing the self-study teams and the preparations for the weekend. The participants were fully engaged and there was a clear sense that God was meeting with us.
The congregation will meet for their town hall conversation on November 20. The congregational vote will take place on December 4. Pray with them that God will provide direction and unity as they seek to make the greatest possible impact for the Kingdom in their zip codes!
(If you’d like to invite the Maximizing Impact team to serve your church, please email or call me or Rev. Chris Williams at the district office about a spring consultation.)
On a personal note, this was a week of transition for our family as Dad & Mom sold their home in Brooksville, Florida to relocate to Burnips, Michigan to live with my sister Beth Jones. This was not unanticipated due to Mom’s declining health but the timeline moved up dramatically. My two sisters were amazing in helping my parents prepare for this transition. I flew down on Sunday evening and we loaded up the truck on Monday morning to begin heading north so my small part was driving the truck from Brooksville to Indianapolis by Tuesday evening. I deeply appreciate the prayer support as our family!
I was off for a personal day on Wednesday fighting a cold. Thursday morning, Chris Williams and I met in Plymouth to sign closing docs on the sale of the Argos parsonage. I stopped back by the Marion office to check in with Mrs. Roxene Lo who does such an incredible of keeping our district’s financial recording and ministerial student data maintained. Chris Williams, Jason Tash, Matthew Trexler and I met with Mark Meyer of the UnStuck Group to explore next steps for rolling out StratOp as a valued planning tool for our Crossroads District churches. Jason and Chris just returned from StratOp training in Atlanta and are gearing up to provide this resource to our team.
While Chris and I were with the Maximizing Impact team in Sheridan on Saturday, I stopped by to connect with Pastor Jordan and Karen Gardner in Westfield to see the property improvements that the Paradox church planting team was making in partnership with Pastor Mario and the Hispanic congregation. It was fun to see baby Grady Gardner who is growing rapidly. My friend Julie McCallum was there working hard. She’s a busy mom, a professional educator, and their volunteer treasurer. People like Julie are the strength of our team!
Congratulations to Pastor Richard and Debbie Cole and the team at Lapel Daybreak Church! After severe water damage last January, the church had to relocate to a community school while the building was repaired. It is has not been easy but Pastor Cole and the team made lemonade out of the lemons. Yesterday, for the first time since January, the congregation gathered to worship in their own building. There were 95 in attendance with 12 guests. Pray as they continue to reach out to impact their community with God’s love!
I will be traveling this week in ministry outside the district including a “Lead Like Wesley” seminary for Wesleyan pastors in Kansas and preaching at Celebrate Church in Sioux Falls over the weekend. While I’ll be available by phone and email, Assistant DS Chris Williams is leading the team at home and is available as needed.
Thank you for praying for the Pastor Marc and Healther Ulrich’s family this weekend. After surgery and some very difficult days, Carson, was released to go home. Continue to pray for a full recovery!
Thank you for lifting each other up in prayer. Pastor Bill Thompson is feeling stronger and was back at Anderson Lone Oak Wesleyan Church on Sunday. Pastor Paul Trent continues to undergo treatment for cancer and values your continued prayers.
Grateful to be serving with you in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
P.S. Keep January 13-14 marked on your calendars for our church multiplication learning experience at Wesley Seminary with Pastor Mike Hilson and the New Life Network team. Remember that we’re working together to achieve the vision of every disciple making at least one more disciple and every church helping to plant at least one more church to impact the 3 million unreached people in our region!