Thank you to every pastor, staff member and volunteer who went the second, and third, and fourth mile to make this Christmas an impactful season of outreach for your church! I’m looking forward to hearing more of the stories of the creative ways that Crossroads District churches reached out to their communities. For example, I attended my first “15 Minute Christmas Eve Service” with Pastor Mark Atkinson and the team at Gas City Eastview Wesleyan Church.
They offer two short but meaningful opportunities for worship, one at 6 p.m. and the second at 6:30 p.m. Both were well attended in spite of the weather. Pastor Mark was praising the Lord with the 20 people who prayed with him on Sunday morning to receive Christ as Lord.
Silver Lake Wesleyan has been undergoing a reset under the leadership of Pastor Duane Seitz. Pastor Duane reports that 40 people attended their Christmas pageant and 6 people responded to the invitation for salvation. Pray as Pastor Duane follows up with these individuals and continues this rebuilding project.
Whether it was a children’s choir or a candlelight communion service, the challenge is to move people from their first experience to full engagement with Christ.
(Here are some follow-up ideas from Outreach Magazine: Six Ways to Follow Up with Christmas Guests)
None of us are content to simply welcome people to events. We are called to engage them in discipleship, from exploration to full devotion. One of the ways I’ve been talking about this lately is with this statement: “Worship that doesn’t move people into discipleship is just entertainment. Discipleship that doesn’t move people into worship is just education.”
Ministry families have to be intentional about finding special moments during the press of the hectic Christmas schedule. It looks like Pastor Randy and Carole Yaryan (pictured above) had a full house with lots of grandchildren in Winchester while Pastor Alan and Grace Gross (pictured below) are in the early stages of family and enjoying their first year of ministry as pastor at Cicero United Family Wesleyan Church.
Sherry and I made a quick trip to Michigan to worship with our children. On Saturday evening, we joined John & Lindsey Gorveatte at Frontline’s South Campus in Byron Center where John serves as campus/teaching pastor.
On Sunday morning, we joined Joel Gorveatte, our youngest son, at Journey Church in Caledonia where he serves as worship and creative arts pastor. One of the highlights of these visits was reconnecting with people we’d known from our family’s involvement in helping those ministries launch while serving as DS in Michigan. It was a blessing to return to worship with our family and to see God at work in these young churches.
Here are two opportunities to help your new year get off to a great start. The first is our district prayer gathering led by Dr. Jim Lo. Join us at College Wesleyan Church in Marion on Friday, January 12, from 1-3, as we seek God together for our lives, our families, our churches and our mission field here in Indiana.
The second opportunity is a leadership seminar with Karl Vaters in Fort Wayne on January 24 (9 a.m. – 4 p.m.) presented by the Center for Congregations: Small Congregations: Having a Healthy Mindset
Karl Vaters is the author of the book The Grasshopper Myth: Big Churches, Small Churches and the Small Thinking That Divides Us. On his blog “Pivot,” he writes about innovative leadership from a small church perspective for ChristianityToday.com. He's also the founder of NewSmallChurch.com, a ministry that encourages, connects and equips innovative Small Church pastors.
In this seminar, you will:
(The cost of $30 per person includes the continental breakfast, lunch and a copy of the book Dirt Matters by Jim Powell.)
REGISTER HERE FOR THIS WORKSHOP.
Pastors, let me encourage you to set aside some time this week to reflect on God’s goodness in the year past and to consider how you might serve Him with greater effectiveness in the year ahead. Here’s a question from Pastor Chris Hodges (Church of the Highlands) to bring focus: “What one thing, if it got better, would make the biggest difference in the effectiveness of our church?”
Our Crossroads District team is available for coaching, consultations (Maximizing Impact) and planning retreats (StratOp) to help our churches find solutions and serve with greater impact going forward. We are stronger together.
Thank you for the privilege of serving alongside you in the only cause that counts for eternity! Keep on making a difference!
Your servant in Christ,
P.S. The district offices are closed in Marion and Fishers this week but I am available to our pastors by phone or email.
P.S.S. – My favorite quote this Christmas is from Peter Larson: “The life of Jesus is bracketed by two impossibilities: a virgin’s womb and an empty tomb. Jesus entered our world through a door marked ‘no entrance’ and left through a door marked ‘no exit’.”
Sunday, December 17, I had the privilege of worshiping with Pastors Tom & Sarah Cochran at Expansion Church in Chesterton. They’ve been serving here for the past 18 months and are making progress in focusing the church on missional ministry to this fast growing community in northwest Indiana. I was glad to see Dr. Nathan and Michelle Hoover again. Dr. Hoover was a member of our merging DBA and I appreciate his leadership wisdom. It was also a delight to reconnect with Jennie Lee Riddle and to meet Kaden Slay, from People and Songs, who are leading worship at Expansion Church. Kaden is just releasing his first album that you can find on iTunes: Kaden Slay on iTunes
I love the many creative ways our Crossroads District churches reach out to their communities during the Christmas season. Saturday was a highlight for me as I witnessed more than 200 volunteers at The River Church in Marion serve more than 1100 families from their neighborhood. This event included 4 worship services with special music and a Gospel presentation from Pastor Matthew Trexler. Every family left with a large box containing everything they will need for a great Christmas feast.
Other churches, like Parkview Wesleyan in Chesterfield, take time out to bring joy by singing Christmas carols at retirement homes.
Many others, like Brinker Heights Wesleyan in Marion, feature children in special music or Christmas programs.
Some churches, like Cicero United Wesleyan, even welcome people to wear their ugly Christmas sweaters.
However you do it, don’t miss this wonderful season of opportunity to connect with people who are far from God. Use every available means to reach every possible person with the Good News that our King has come and will soon return!
Last Monday, Rev. Chris Williams and I were in Cincinnati to meet with leaders from Greater Ohio, Indiana South, and the KY-TN Districts for a follow-up conversation about the potential for greater partnership here in the heartland of America. I’ll be bringing an update on these conversations to our district’s 3 regional meetings this spring.
Tuesday, I was met with Pastor Jordan Gardner (Westfield Paradox) and Pastor Tim Witte (Wabash North) for their annual coaching conversations before Sherry and I shared supper with Rev. Jim and Jerolyn Bogear. After their successful ministry in California, Jim and Jerolyn are back in their home area and are serving full-time in their new itinerant ministry (https://www.jimandjerolynbogear.com/) building stronger marriages and teams on the foundation of trust. They are both certified coaches and would be a blessing to your church or leadership team.
Wednesday morning, I attended the funeral for Uriah Wilson, son of Rev. Larry Wilson and grandson of Dr. Norman and Nancy Wilson. Please continue to extend your prayers and support to Uriah’s family and friends. May God grant His comfort and peace.
After the funeral, I met with Pastor John Freed (Waterline Church) at HQ in Fishers for his annual coaching conversation. While at HQ, I also met with Rev. Kimberly Gladden (CMAD), reconnected with Pastor Ervin Webster (St. Stephen Church) and then met with a new local church treasurer that evening for an orientation.
Thursday morning, I met with Pastor Tony Bye (Brookhaven) for our coaching conversation in Marion and then drove to Rochester to meet with Pastor Mike Cloud (The Cross) for our coaching conversation. My last meeting of the day was with Dr. Oliver Dongell at Plymouth Wesleyan before heading home to Upland.
Friday was a chance to catch up on correspondence in my home office before heading north with Sherry to attend the Warsaw Zone Christmas Fellowship. Pastor Jarod and Esther Osborne hosted a fun gathering of area pastors and staff members at Warsaw Wesleyan Church. One exciting update to pass along was Pastor Dale Munsell’s report that Cornerstone Wesleyan welcomed more than 300 for their community Christmas concert featuring the children of their Christian school.
Many of you will have received an email from our office this past week encouraging you to save the date of April 21, 2018 for ReEquip: http://www.reequipconference.org/
We are excited to welcome guest speakers like Rev. Mark Wilson (author of Purple Fish, long-time pastor at Hayward Wesleyan Church, now ministry professor at Southern Wesleyan University) and Matt DePrez (author and Fuller Youth Institute Church Engagement Specialist on the power of intergenerational ministry: https://fulleryouthinstitute.org/author/matthew-deprez).
Please make every effort to bring your team to this leadership event which will replace the seminars we did at last year’s district conference. We really are stronger together!
Your servant in Christ,
Sherry and I had the privilege of worshiping with Pastor Allen Laws and the team at Warren Wesleyan Church on Sunday, December 10. Pastor Allen and Cheryl have been faithfully serving here for the past 8 years and are making inroads into their neighborhood. Attendance has doubled under their ministry and the church has taken a lead in the community food pantry that serves needy children. After the service, we joined Allen and Cheryl for lunch at East of Chicago Pizza in historic downtown Warren.
Sunday evening, Rev. Chris Williams and I joined Dr. Jim & Roxene Lo at Parkview Wesleyan Church in Chesterfield for a communion service that concluded with Silent Night by candlelight. The congregation has enthusiastically welcomed Jim and Roxie for this interim ministry. The search for a full-time pastor will pick up again in the spring.
This was a great week of connecting with our Crossroads District team. After our Monday morning staff meeting in Marion, I was in Fishers for a meeting with one of our pastors and then jumped on Zoom for one of the monthly connections Dr. Wayne Schmidt provides for district superintendents. Monday evening, Sherry and I joined Pastor Mark Atkinson’s and his zone for a Christmas fellowship at Eastview Wesleyan Church.
Tuesday morning, I connected with Pastor Aldean Pablo (Marion Brinker Heights) for our annual coaching conversation. Dr. Lenny Luchetti and I shared lunch and I learned about his soon-to-be released book on the role of empathy in preaching. Pastor Ryan Budde (Jonesboro Westview) and I met in the afternoon for our coaching session. Then, Sherry and I made it to Fort Wayne in time to join Pastor Rick Fletcher for the zone Christmas fellowship hosted at Lifeway Wesleyan Church.
Wednesday morning, I worshiped with the student body at IWU as Pastor George Martin (Indianapolis Sanctuary Church) brought the message. Pastor Chris Williams and I connected in the afternoon for planning and DBA prep. Sherry and I hosted Dr. David and Angie Smith for supper at our place. Thursday morning, I connected with Rev. Jon Wiest, District Multiplication Director, on the progress his team is making. Then, on Thursday afternoon, our District Board of Administration met at Wesleyan World Headquarters in Fishers with a full agenda.
We had a productive meeting and then welcomed General Superintendent Dr. Wayne Schmidt for our Christmas supper. We were delighted that Jan Schmidt was also able to join us. We have a great DBA and value their wisdom in directing our movement.
Friday, I met with 5 of the 6 district superintendents who have been strategizing for a possible Great Lake Region pilot project. It was good to connect with my colleagues and to learn more about the model they are developing to leverage their collective resources. Friday evening, Sherry and I joined Rev. Bill Thompson and the Madison County Zone for their Christmas fellowship. One of the highlights was standing in a circle and singing “Silent Night” in the restaurant. The servers thanked us for brightening their evening!
Saturday afternoon, Sherry and I hosted four of our pastoral couples who lead urban ministries. These are amazing leaders doing remarkable work in challenging circumstances. After great conversations at Thornapple Lodge, we shared supper with them at Cracker Barrel, where we also bumped into Pastor Steve and Cheryll Colter and Pastor Ryan and Rachel Budde. It was a wonderful way to end an exciting week!
After the Sunday evening service at Chesterfield Parkview, Pastor Chris Williams and I drove on to Cincinnati. We will be in meetings there on Monday with leaders from our neighboring districts. Your prayers are appreciated as we discuss partnership possibilities moving forward.
Please also join us in prayer for Rev. Larry Wilson as their family grieves the death of his son, Uriah. Visitation with the family will be held on Tuesday, 4-8 pm and the funeral service on Wednesday at 11 am, all at Pendleton Christian Church, 1170 S. Pendleton Avenue, in Pendleton. Your prayers and support are deeply appreciated by the family.
Your servant in Christ,
Sunday, December 3, was a day of beginning new chapters for two of our district congregations. Fort Wayne’s Level 13 Church officially welcomed Pastor Heath & Hayley Croft and their family from Alabama. Pastor Rob Tippey build a strong foundation at Level 13 launching and building the team. We’re excited to see what God has in store for this next season under Pastor Heath’s leadership.
This was also the day that Dr. Jim Lo began a season of interim ministry at Parkview Wesleyan Church in Chesterfield. Pastor Jim and Roxene Lo moved from Marion to the Anderson community last month and just in time for Rev. Bob Van Cise to pass the torch. Please remember both of these ministers in your prayers and reach out to support them as they launch into these new assignments.
“The older you get the harder you have to work at learning because you are also having to unlearn things that no longer work.” – Dr. L.D. Buckingham
This was a week of learning. Pastor Matthew Trexler, Rev. Chris Williams and I flew to Atlanta last Sunday evening for training in the StratOp (strategic operations planning) process used by Tony Morgan’s UnStuck Group. This is the strategic planning process used by churches like Central Christian Church (the church Jud Wilhite pastors in Las Vegas) and Connexus (pastored by Carey Neiuwhof in Ontario, Canada). The training was held at 12Stone’s John Maxwell Leadership Center.
StratOp is the follow-up resource that our Crossroads District offers for church plants as they move past the 2-3 year launch phase, for churches that completed the Maximizing Impact consultation, and for other high capacity churches that are ready to move to the next level. In addition to the excellent training by Tony Morgan and his team, we had the privilege of networking with senior leaders from churches like Harvest Bible Chapel (Chicago) and Sun Valley Community Church (Phoenix).
Then, on Thursday, I flew from Atlanta to Buffalo to join a consultation team at Eastern Hills Wesleyan Church led by Dr. Laurel Buckingham and Dr. Joey Jennings. It was a great learning experience to come alongside this team to serve Pastor Pat Jones and his staff as they work to “engage every person to become a passionate follower of Jesus Christ.” Dr. Jennings and I also had a chance for dialogue on the regional mergers and partnerships that are being proposed. Learning from Dr. Buckingham is like drinking from a fire hydrant. He epitomizes the Caleb spirit for our seasoned saints who just keep climbing new mountains.
I am looking forward to another great week serving with our team here in the Crossroads District. This week will include 4 zone fellowships, a DBA meeting (on Thursday), and a day of dialogue on Friday with the district superintendents who are moving toward a regional merger to create the Great Lakes District. Please join me in praying for wisdom as we consider future possibilities.
Congratulations to Pastor Tom Parsons and the team at Hartford City Wesleyan Church as they celebrate successfully raising $15,000 for the Global Partners Ministry Center in Crotia in partnership with Habitat for Missions. If you’d like to know more about this innovative fund-raising approach to fund world missions initiatives, contact Rev. Wayne Richards (765-506-6733) or visit their website: www.habitatformissions.com
Thank you for praying for Pastor Brad LeRoy (McCordsville Harvest), Pastor Joe Allen (Albion Wesleyan), and Rev. Lloyd Moore (retired). It was encouraging to hear progress reports this week. Pastor Joe shared that for the first time in two years he was able to put in two 8-hour days in a row. Pastor Brad was feeling strong enough to get out of the house for the first time in a few months to join his Harvest Church family for their annual Community Open House. And Rhonda Moore reported that Pastor Lloyd is cooperating with the creative occupational therapy workout she’s developed… unloading the dishwasher. Let’s continue to pray and stand in faith for full recoveries for these ministry leaders!
Let’s continue to pray that God will move in powerful ways in our churches this Advent as we point people to the reason for the season. Christ, long-awaited, has come and will come again. Maranatha!
Your servant in Christ,