Sunday, November 24, was a wonderful day of celebration at Lifeway Church in Fort Wayne. Senior Pastor Rick Fletcher and Associate Pastor Andy Jellison led the congregation in worship and praise for the faithfulness of God. Lifeway completed a beautiful Family Life Center (gymnasium, classrooms, and kitchen) in December 2015 and made their final payment on the mortgage this month, raising more than $1.35 million dollars over the past 5 years.
The service included powerful testimonies of God’s provision in the faith journey of individuals and families who learned new levels of trust and generosity. God is honoring this step of faith to reach their community with 14 professions of faith and next week’s baptism will bring their total to 17 so far this conference year. Lifeway has a special place in our family as the last full-time ministry of my father, Dr. Ken Gorveatte, before he retired. It was a joy for me to be able to participate in the mortgage burning and to bring greetings from our district team on this happy occasion.
The General Board of The Wesleyan Church was in session last week, Monday through Wednesday, under the leadership of General Superintendent Dr. Wayne Schmidt. The year before General Conference guarantees a full agenda. Two major proposals (memorials) being prepared for the GC2020 will be a new model for the United Stewardship Fund (to direct more giving toward church planting) and a new model for credentialing ministers (which empowers the local church for a more significant role). Please add General Conference 2020 to your prayer list.
The denomination has created an email list for those who are interested in receiving GC20-specific news. These emails will include in-depth information about the May 31–June 3 event in St. Louis. This will help you be better informed about scheduled events, memorials and livestreaming. Unleashed emails will hit inboxes monthly beginning in January. Click here to subscribe: https://www.wesleyan.org/unleashed
Several leaders from the four districts comprising the Heartland Region met at Trinity Wesleyan Church on Thursday for a day of learning and conversation about our continued collaboration. We were delighted to have Dr. Dan Reiland, Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church, with us to provide leadership development in our morning sessions.
After lunch, Dr. Wayne Schmidt joined us to share an update on his initiatives to “unleash” apostolic multipliers. This included a conversation about regional partnerships and district mergers. He encouraged the steps we’ve taken to find ways to work together to make disciples and multiply congregations across Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Dr. Schimidt will be one of our keynote speakers at The Heartland Gathering in Pigeon Forge, March 10-12. There’s still time to register! https://gathering.heartlandregion.org/
Thursday evening, Rev. Johanna Rugh hosted a gathering of Hispanic leaders from our Crossroads District. Johanna is leading the FLAMA Spanish-language ministerial education program for the General Department of Education and Clergy Development. Dr. Wayne Schmidt. Dr. Anita Eastlack (Executive Director of Church Multiplication and Discipleship) and Dr. David Smith (Chair of our DBMD) were also on hand to bring greetings to this wonderful group of pastors and ministerial students.
Friday was a good to catch up with e-mails and telephone calls. I was also able to meet Rev. Victor and Rev. Claudia Silva in Fishers, and then with Rev. Clifton Ashlock in Anderson. Rev. Ashlock has retired from full-time pastoring but is staying open to pulpit supply opportunities.
I am always encouraged to receive and pass along updates of new disciples professing faith and being baptized in our churches. Pastor Mark Atkinson reported that Eastview Wesleyan’s Jonesboro campus recorded another profession of faith and celebrated 2 more baptisms last Sunday, November 17. Praise the Lord for lives being #madenew!
Rev. Dan Fisher (Delphi Wesleyan Church) leads a prayer for his zone pastors via a group text every Sunday morning. I love reading the replies. This morning’s responses included: “We had another person pray to receive Christ today. God is good!!!” and “”Praise God. We had 1 get saved Friday at men’s Bible study.” It’s great to be part of a team that encourages one another as we work together in God’s harvest field!
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Sunday morning, November 17, I had the privilege of worshiping with Dr. Max Kingsolver and the congregation of Mt. Hope Wesleyan Church in Michigantown. This small congregation has been a faithful ministry supporting Global Partner missionaries and participating in Samaritan’s Purse Christmas Boxes. After preaching, I had an opportunity to visit with Pastor Kingsolver and members of the congregation after the service for a discussion of future ministry partnership possibilities. Dr. Kingsolver has a surgical procedure scheduled next week and would welcome your prayers.
Sunday evening, I was encouraged by the presentation that Rev. Timothy Gallant shared at Brookhaven Wesleyan Church. Tim and Tiffany serve with Global Partners in Cambodia and Tim was recently appointed as GP’s Asia Area Director. They have developed a discipleship and leadership development strategy uniquely for the oral learning tradition in their cultural context. They will be on home ministry raising partner support until January and would be happy to share their story over a cup of coffee. You can reach out to Tim via direct message on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TntGallant
Last week, I joined a team of leaders from our Crossroads District to participate in learning cohorts sponsored by The Wesleyan Church in partnership with the Exponential Conference. These learning cohorts included multi-ethnic ministry leaders, pastors of larger churches, and district superintendents. Dr. Wayne Schmidt, our General Superintendent, joined the DS cohort for the first of the three events focused on leading discipleship and church multiplication movements. Five of us flew together from Indianapolis on Tuesday and arrived home from San Diego early on Saturday morning.
This first event was hosted at Skyline Wesleyan Church. Dr. Bobby Harrington and Ralph Moore were keynote speakers and Bob Cochanaur served as the facilitator for our cohort. The next session is scheduled for January at the underground church in Tampa, Florida. There were so many helpful insights and challenging conversations. Ralph Moore said, “What you measure improves and what you celebrate gets repeated.” Myron Pierce, pastor of Mission Church in Omaha, challenged us that “You can’t delegate what Jesus told you to prioritize. The pastor must be the CDM (Chief Disciple-Maker) in his or her church.” Bobby Harrington reminded us that “there is no disciple-making movement anywhere in the world that was not birthed in fasting and prayer.”
I am always thrilled to hear stories from our pastors of lives being transformed. Co-Pastors Zack and Carla Working are celebrating another life changed by the Gospel at Hope Rising Church in Huntington. This was the 23rd baptism so far this conference year, compared to 2 baptisms last year. Praise God for the way He’s working!
This week, please join me in prayer for important meetings as the General Board of The Wesleyan Church convenes at HQ in Fishers on Monday-Wednesday. Then, on Thursday, the Heartland Region will host a roundtable with Dr. Dan Reiland as we continue to explore ways to collaborate for greater effectiveness in serving our churches and reaching our mission field in the 4 states of our region.
Thank you for all that you do to advance the Kingdom!
Your servant in Christ,
P.S. There still time to register for The Heartland Gathering, March 10-12. In addition to an open forum on the pros and cons of a potential merger, we’ll have a sneak preview of some of the key issues that will be debated at General Conference 2020 in Saint Louis. I hope you’ll plan to join us!
Sunday, November 10, Sherry and I were privileged to worship with Rev. Don Glenn and the congregation of Marion Nelson Street Wesleyan Church as they celebrated their 110th Anniversary. Pastor Glenn and his team prepared a wonderful celebration event that honored God’s faithfulness in the past and pointed to the future.
The church has a remarkable history. Nelson Street began as a church plant (mission) meeting first in homes in 1909, God blessed their evangelistic outreach and holiness emphasis. The ministry grew and they relocated twice in temporary locations before building their own facility in 1911. By 1948, the church averaged 335 in Sunday School attendance. The legacy of the church includes many individuals called to ministry and missionary work. I preached the message in the morning service and Rev. Glenn brought a challenging message in the afternoon service calling the church to the unfinished task.
As many of you will know, I had a heart attack on Tuesday morning, October 22, en route to a gathering with our pastors in Indianapolis. God intervened that day in so many beautiful ways and I’d be glad to tell you more about it when you have the time. The good news is I was cleared to begin cardiac rehabilitation and to work toward resuming a full load over the next 8 to 12 weeks. Our district staff team has been a tremendous blessing. Assistant DS Chris Williams stepped up to cover the last two Team Updates and Seth Bye jumped into action rescheduling appointments. Thank you to all those who have been so cooperative as we’ve been making needed adjustments.
The week after returning home, I resumed coaching calls via ZOOM. Then, on Friday, November 1, I was delighted to join our retired pastors and spouses for our fall luncheon and fellowship hosted at College Wesleyan Church. Pastor Bob VanCise brought an encouraging message and we shared a delicious meal provided by Velvet Haisley and her staff at Fairmount Wesleyan Church’s coffee shop, “The Branch.”
That evening, we hosted the pastors and spouses from our Fort Wayne Zone. I appreciate these opportunities for fellowship and encouragement with our frontline leaders. Pastor Rick Fletcher leads this zone and it was a special delight to welcome Rev. Aldean and Jesse Pablo as the newest members of the group.
The doctor cleared me for flying as long as I wasn’t the pilot and agreed to not lift more than 20 pounds. That allowed me to fulfill a commitment that I had made to Dr. Keith Loy, pastor at Celebrate Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I traveled out on Saturday, worshiped with their team on Sunday morning and then taught from “Lead Like Wesley” in the evening to 300+ ministry team leaders.
Pastor Keith and Kay Loy joined our staff at New Hope Church in Williston back in 1998. It has been a joy to stay in touch and to watch God work in their lives and ministry over the last 20 years. Terry and Barb Rosendahl are also special friends who first worked with us at New Hope and now Barb is a key staff member with Dr. Loy at Celebrate.
Celebrate’s small group ministry has grown from 80 groups 3 years ago to more than 300. They have 104 people who have answered the call to prepare for vocational ministry, with most focused on church planting. They have already launched 14 church planting teams. I have invited Pastor Keith to consider sending a team to the Heartland Region and he has opened the door for students from Crossroads to participate in church planting internships and residencies at Celebrate.
I began cardiac rehab on Thursday afternoon (the first of 24 one-hour sessions over the next 8 weeks) and then met with two of our Indianapolis pastors for coaching conversations. Rev. George Martin leads The Sanctuary Church, an affiliated congregation that worships in the former Eastlawn Wesleyan Church property on Post Road. Rev. Barry Dixon pastors Calvary Family Church and is a member of our District Board of Administration. Pastor Barry is another of our faithful bi-vocational ministers who serve sacrificially as a labor of love. He and Joyce, his wife, are in the stage of life where caring for both your parents and your grandchildren makes life challenging.
Friday morning, I sat in on the College Day hosted by the team at Wesleyan Headquarters. Students were present from all five Wesleyan higher educational institutions for this denominational orientation event. Dr. Lenny Luchetti shared insights from his ministry experiences including this lesson: “Pastors, if you don’t find a healthy hobby, an unhealthy hobby will find you.”
After his session, Dr. Luchetti and I met for an update on his interim ministry at Lakeview Wesleyan Church in Marion. I was encouraged by this progress report and by his sincere passion for the church.
Friday afternoon, I traveled to Trinity Wesleyan Church in Indianapolis for the visitation with the family and friends of Mrs. Betty Davis, beloved wife of Rev. Art Davis. Her funeral was held on Saturday with Pastor Mike Colaw and Rev. Randy Davis officiating.
Saturday morning, Dr. Jim Lo and the Crossroads District intercession team led a prayer gathering at Fairmount Camp. Thank you to each one who participated and to the team for the way in which they prepared for and led this event. Special thanks to Fairmount Camp’s Director Angela Spangler and her team for graciously hosting this special time.
This week, a team of our leaders will be traveling to San Diego together to participate in a Wesleyan Church training event in partnership with Exponential that will be focused on church multiplication. We welcome your prayers for our travel and learning.
Registration is still open for the Heartland Region Gathering, March 10-12, 2020. I’m looking forward to our speakers and a great time of inspiration together as we meet in Pigeon Forge, TN. If you’ve not yet registered, today would be a great day to get that done! Here’s the link: https://gathering.heartlandregion.org/
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Building a Comprehensive Outreach Strategy, Part 2
In last week’s team update, I outlined four levels of a comprehensive outreach strategy:
A Common Mistake
Many churches invest time and energy in public relations and in meeting needs throughout their community. Yet, they do not take the next step of intentionally planning and producing high-quality bridge events. Even fewer do the necessary work to equip and mobilize their congregation to be personally committed to and engaged in personal evangelism.
I was having a conversation recently with one of our pastors and was struck by a statement he made. He said, “The church is more missional today, but it is less evangelistic.”
Are we making a mistake by engaging our churches in public relations and meeting needs as a substitute for true evangelistic outreach?
Build a Strategy with All Four Building Blocks
I am not suggesting that public relations and meeting needs are not important. They are.
Public relations are the things we do because we are part of the community. We do them because we are good neighbors.
Meeting needs are the things we do to help people experience the tangible love of God. We do these things because we are followers of Christ and he commanded us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and visit those in prison.
But we must go beyond these two important components of outreach. We must move into intentional and focused evangelistic strategies by creating bridge events and equipping people for personal evangelism.
As a standard best practice, churches should plan at least one high-quality bridge event each quarter. This could be a Christmas outreach like “The Big Give,” an Easter Egg Hunt, a July 4th Freedom Festival, or some other creative idea that you and your team develop. The point is that these events need to introduce people to your church and intentionally share the Gospel.
As important as the first three levels of your outreach strategy are, the real key to an effective outreach strategy is leading and equipping your congregation to care about and be involved in personal evangelism. Since every follower of Christ is called to “fish for people” (Matt. 4:19), the church must equip every person to share their faith.
A simple strategy you can use is to have every person in your church…
I hope that you will take a fresh look at your church’s outreach strategy to determine which ones of these building blocks are strongest and which ones are weakest or missing altogether. If we can make sure all four of these building blocks are in place, we have a better opportunity to be missional and evangelistic.
If you are looking for assistance to equip the people in your church to share their faith with those in their relational network, feel free to reach out to me (firstname.lastname@example.org). As part of the follow-up training and coaching we provide to Maximizing Impact Churches in the Crossroads District, we offer a 3-hour workshop to equip people to share their faith stories with others. This training is now available to any church in the district.
Celebrating Missional Advances at Laketon
Pastor Dave Cox from Laketon Wesleyan Church reports that the church, over the last few years, has grown from 20 to nearly 60. On a recent friend day, they had 66 people in attendance. More importantly, this Sunday they baptized Amy and Susan (pictured below). We are celebrating how God is at work making people new!
Wesleyan Church History & Discipline Course
The Crossroads District was pleased to host its first Wesleyan Church History & Discipline course this past weekend at College Wesleyan Church in Marion. Nine students were apart of this inaugural course taught by Dr. Bud Bence. We hope to make this an annual offering to help ministers transferring from other denominations and ministerial students whose educational programs did not include this course.