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.