Sherry and I had the privilege of joining Pastor David and Suzanne Cox yesterday morning for worship at Laketon Wesleyan Church. Established in 1903, Laketon Wesleyan, another of our small rural churches, is located in a community with 97 homes. Led by Pastor Dave, another of our faithful, bi-vocational ministers, the congregation is reaching out to their families, neighbors and friends. David stepped in to “temporarily supply the pulpit” in 2014 and has been there ever since.
Pastor David and Suzanne commute from Warsaw, where they live and work, but they have seen the church rebound from worship attendance of 19 in 2014 to averaging close to 40. They now have a vibrant children’s ministry on Wednesdays, led by Assistant Pastor Josh Warren, and have recently added on to the building providing a nursery, two bathrooms and an office on the main level. Last year they recorded 6 professions of faith and celebrated 2 baptisms. We’re excited about the future for Laketon Wesleyan as they work together to share God’s love in their community.
Sunday evening, I joined with Lead Pastor John Freed and the team from Waterline Church as hosted a vision-casting gathering for their new campus launching this spring in Pendleton with Rev. Joe Deckard serving as campus pastor. It was wonderful to hear how God has been raising up key ministry leaders (worship, children, tech) to join this launch team. I also heard encouraging stories that God has already been opening hearts and providing pathways into the community.
Last Monday, I had the opportunity to connect with pastors in the Fort Wayne area. I met with Pastor Aaron Lee (LaOtto Cultivate Church) and Pastor Kyle Horton (Fort Wayne Three Rivers Church) over lunch, then met with Pastor Heath Croft (Level 13) before having coffee with Pastor Dave Dignal (Edgerton). Pastor Rick Fletcher had invited me to share the Christmas meal with LifeWay Church’s Local Board of Administration. LifeWay is experiencing a wonderful season of growth, averaging 250 over the last few weeks.
Tuesday morning, I met with our district staff before heading back to Fort Wayne for the 25k service on our district vehicle. I was able to make good use of the downtime catching up on phone calls and reading a book called “Reinforcements.” The book explores the research that reveals how people are more willing to help us then we are to ask them.
Wednesday morning, I dropped in at Lapel Daybreak Church to check on Pastor Andy Cole. Elicia is getting the family settled in while Andy is mobilizing volunteers to complete some needed construction projects at the church. I met with Pastors Rochelle and Travis Jenkins for lunch in Irvington before visiting their ministry location in the Little Flowers neighborhood. They’re making in progress launching their house church network by building relationships with coworkers and neighbors. One of their friends even gifted them with a donation to purchase coffee branded mugs to use in spreading the word about Circle City Wesleyan Church. It has been a joy to welcome Rochelle and Travis to the Crossroads District team this year.
My final meeting in the city was with Pastor John Miller. He and Heather are building the launch team for Way City Church to be launched this next year in Speedway. They faced a real challenge finding a meeting space in which they could hold their public worship services. After many closed doors, Pastor John was excited to show me around in “The Factory” a state of the art fitness center on right at the Speedway exit off I-465. You may not tell from this picture but John is just a little bit excited about this answer to prayer!
Thursday morning, I joined Dr. Richard and Pastor Carol Schenck at Circle of Hope’s Noblesville campus for a conversation with another prospective partner church for their growing network. This past weekend, between the 35 in their Dhaka campus and the 4 sites in Indiana, 288 people worshiped as part of the Circle of Hope network.
Thursday afternoon, I had the privilege of convening our quarterly meeting of the Crossroads District of The Wesleyan Church. We had a wonderful team of representatives, lay leaders and clergy, from larger churches of 1000 in attendance to a house church with 3 families, from congregations 175-years-old to ministries that are just being launched, from single-site congregations in the core city to multi-site networks that span the globe. In addition to the accountability steps of policy compliance and financial reporting, we engaged in strategic conversations about leadership development and funding strategies for launching ministries in new zip codes.
Two of the highlights of our meeting was hearing an update from Pastor Mike Hewitt about Rising Hope, our newest church in Muncie, and hearing an update from Dr. David Drury about the house church network that he and Kathy are launching Fishers. Following this productive meeting, we gathered with G.S. Dr. Wayne and Jan Schmidt to share in a delightful Christmas meal. The DBA presented Jan with a lovely Christmas basket and we added to Dr. Schmidt’s collection of novelty socks. (The picture below is from his public Facebook page so I can share it with you.)
Friday morning, Assistant DS Chris WIlliams and I met at Abbey Coffee for planning and to handle follow-up items from the DBA. Friday evening, Sherry and I were honored to host Pastor Mark & Ronda Atkinson, Pastor Brent & Naomi Miller, Pastor Tom & Kara Parsons, and Pastor Ryan & Rachel Budde for their zone’s fellowship gathering at Thornapple. These evenings are a blessing to us and we hope these times are encouraging to our team members. We received a text on Saturday morning from one couple who wrote, “We sure had a great time. Thank you for your incredible hospitality. Definitely was an aura of love in the house.” Special thanks to Sherry, my amazing wife, who goes the second mile to make these evenings possible.
Saturday, I was able to drop in on amazing community outreach called “The Big Give” that River Church hosted in Marion. We join them in praising God for more than 1000 Christmas boxes donated, more than 3000 attendees, and more than 200 decisions for Christ. Saturday evening, I joined with Pastor Clifton Ashlock at United Wesleyan Church in Anderson in their Spanish-language evening service as they hosted Rev. Dr. Diego Chuyma as their guest speaker for the weekend. Dr. Chuyma holds a D.Min from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and serves cross-culturally as a church planter and theological educator in Bolivia. We’re praying with Anderson United Wesleyan as they move through this year of leadership transition.
Just a reminder that it’s not too late to register for the Gathering! We’d love to have you join our team in Orlando next month (January 9-11) and, at last word, there are still district matching funds available. Link to the Gathering info
Our office will be closed next week but I will still be available to our district pastors, as needed, by phone or email. This will be our last weekly team update of the 2018 calendar year so, on behalf of our Crossroads District team, please know that our prayers are for you, your family, and your congregation to have a blessed Christmas celebration and all the best that God promises in the new year!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Sherry and I had the privilege of worshiping with Pastor Dan and Alana Van Cise at West 8th Street Wesleyan Church this morning, December 9. Dan is one of our district’s faithful bi-vocational pastors. One of the things most I appreciate about Pastor Dan’s leadership is the intentional way that he involves and mentors IWU students in the ministry at West 8th Street. IWU students helped lead worship this morning and offered the Advent candle reading. After preaching a Christmas message in the service, I met briefly with Pastor Dan and members of the LBA before Sherry and I enjoyed hosting Pastor Dan & Alana for lunch.
Sunday evening, Sherry and I joined Pastor Tim & Cynthia McClellan for the annual Lakeview Wesleyan Church Christmas Cantata. Some of you may know that Sherry works part-time with Pastor Tim’s finance team. Congratulations to Pastor Tim and the Lakeview team for working together to pull off this inspiring concert.
Last Monday was an office day. It was good to catch up on some reading, email, and phone calls. Tuesday morning, our district team met at Abbey Coffee for our weekly staff meeting. Tuesday afternoon, I had a scheduled meeting via ZOOM with GS Dr. Wayne Schmidt for an annual prayer connection. I was in the northern part of our district Tuesday evening for our annual coaching conversation with Rev. Jere Gowin, pastor of Kingsford Heights Wesleyan Church. Rev. Gowin is another of our bi-vocational pastors. It was encouraging to hear of the teenager who gave his life to Christ at the church this year. Pastor Jere is also mentoring someone who is taking steps to answer a call to ministry.
The highlight of Wednesday was an ideation session with Chris and Seth as we looked at the resources available to assist our pastors with life planning. We are working on a series of three events. The first will be for new pastors in the launching phase of ministry. The second event will be for mid-career pastors in the prime season of ministry. The third event would be for pastors who are preparing for their encore phase. Stay tuned for opportunities to help pilot these leadership development experiences in 2019.
I spent Thursday morning in my office doing sermon preparation for Sunday’s assignment and then Sherry and I hosted Rev. Steve & Beth Jones for a visit in the afternoon. Beth is my younger sister and Steve and I served together in ministry for 4+ years in North Dakota. It is always exciting to hear how God is blessing their work at LifeChange Community Church in Burnips, Michigan.
Friday morning, I attended IWU’s closing chapel of the fall semester. Dr. John Bray, IWU’s Chaplain, does a great job leading the spiritual life team. I checked in on Mrs. Roxene Lo after chapel and was glad to hear that her cataract surgery went well.
Friday afternoon, Sherry and I picked up Chris & Marietta Williams and drove to Monon for the Region 3 Christmas fellowship at The Whistle Stop. More than 30 people, pastors and spouses, joined us at this unique restaurant which features America’s largest private museum of railroad memorabilia. The food was delicious and the fellowship was terrific. Thank you to Chris and Seth for their exceptional work in putting this event together to express appreciation to our pastors.
Saturday morning, I was with Assistant DS Chris Williams in Tipton at Ash Street Wesleyan Church as he rolled out a modified Maximum Impact model for smaller churches. The team had already completed a self-study before this session. Chris worked with Pastor Logan Westrick and a committed team of leaders learning about the marks of a faithful church and core growth engines.
Then, on Sunday morning, Chris was on site for observations in the first impressions, worship experience and children’s ministry. Chris will follow-up with a report that includes observations and recommendations. If the LBA adopts the report, Chris will also be available to provide implementation coaching. If you pastor a church that averages less than 50 in worship attendance and would be interested in learning more about this consultation, please contact our office.
Saturday evening, Sherry and I were able to enjoy IWU’s Christmas Extravaganza. It was an amazing evening with 240 talented vocalists and musicians delivering an uplifting experience for a packed house. It was also a special occasion as President David Wright recognized Dr. Earle Wilson, General Superintendent Emeritus, who was present and celebrating his 84th birthday!
Many of you will know that The River Church in Marion accepted the challenge of launching a campus in Chesterton with a core team and our existing facility. They’ve been in a silent phase of training the team and planting seeds for several weeks but this past weekend was a significant step forward. The River Church in Chesterton blessed their city with a “Big Give” inspired and resourced by the team in Marion. More than 100 families were blessed with Christmas gift boxes on Saturday and, best of all, 17 people prayed to receive Christ as the Gospel was presented. Special thanks to Pastor Matthew Trexler and the Marion team for the extraordinary investment of prayer, time and energy they’ve made in preparing to launch this campus.
This coming week’s schedule includes our District Board of Administration meeting on Thursday and a Friday evening fellowship at Thornapple with Pastor Mark Atkinson’s zone members. Then, next Sunday morning, I’m looking forward to my first visit at Laketon Wesleyan Church with Pastor David & Suzanne Cox.
Thank you for all you are doing to advance the Kingdom in this Advent season!
Your servant in Christ,
ReEquip (One Day District Leadership Training Event) – April 6, 2019
Crying Out (District Prayer Retreat) – April 12-13, 2019
Sunday morning, December 2, I had the privilege of worshiping with Pastor Brian Williams and the congregation at Sims Wesleyan Church. This is a warm and welcoming church family serving a rural community on the west side of Grant County.
Pastor Brian and Dianna Williams have pastored here since 1987. Rural ministry can be challenging but last year they averaged 42 in worship with 30 in Sunday School and 3 professions of faith. Pastor Brian has encouraged the congregation to be faithful in sharing their stories and testimonies of God’s grace with their relatives and friends. We closed the service yesterday with a commissioning prayer.
I also enjoyed meeting with the LBA after the service. It was good to be able to affirm the progress they’ve made in maintaining and updating their property. I was reminded again that it takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people and rural churches can still play a key role in advancing the Kingdom!
Last Monday, I met with the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors for Fairmount Camp. David Tippey has done a great job of chairing the Board for the past few years but felt the time had come to turn over the gavel to the next leader. The Executive Committee developed a strong list of potential candidates that they’ll be contacting and would invited you to join them in praying for God’s direction in this important selection process.
Tuesday morning, I met with Pastor Mark Atkinson for an update on the multi-site ministry of Eastview Wesleyan Church before heading to Indy. Assistant DS Mike Colaw has opened his monthly all-staff meetings for Region 2 pastors and their teams. Chris Williams and I were able to join in for this month’s session which featured Rev. Ian Swyers from Global Partners. Ty Combs led in the Scripture meditation, Josh Lavender led us in worship and then Ian brought a challenging talk about flourishing where we’re planted. It’s great to see new team members connecting with our long-tenured leaders.
After the meeting, I met with Pastor Scott McDermid, our next pastor at Sheridan Six Points Church, for an update on the exciting developments since he’s arrived. Six Points is strategically positioned for significant impact as Hamilton County’s population continues to grow in their direction. We’re glad that Pastor Scott and Nicole (and their sons Caleb & Isaac) are part of the Crossroads District team!
Tuesday afternoon, I participated in the monthly ZOOM call that General Superintendent Dr. Wayne Schmidt hosts for the 25 district superintendents each month. This month Dr. Schmidt provided a recap from our recent General Board meeting. Tuesday evening, I met with Pastor Dan Heylmann (Grant City Wesleyan) for our annual coaching conversation.
Wednesday morning, I met with Aaron Wilkinson at Wesley Seminary for an update on some of the ways that the seminary is developing to better serve the Church. I’m grateful for Dr. Colleen Derr and the team at Wesley Seminary who provide such a valued educational resource for our students and denomination. Keep them in your prayers!
Wednesday afternoon, I joined the other 3 district superintendents of the Heartland Region for a meeting with General Treasurer Kevin Batman, Jake Lapp and Matthew Ray. We’re making progress toward a shared services agreement that will allow us to contract with the General Treasurer’s office for accounting and financial support. Both Kevin and Jake have been local church treasurers in the Crossroads District so they bring expertise and a great heart for the lay finance/accounting volunteers who serve our congregations.
Rev. Jim Weinmann and I met later Wednesday afternoon for our annual coaching conversation. The Weinmann family are still mourning the loss of their brother and son Richard (Rick) Weinmann who passed away earlier this month. Pastor Jim conducted the funeral at Evanston Avenue Wesleyan Church on November 25.
Wednesday evening, I was able to attend Bible study at The Pour House. The study on “Fighting Temptations” was led by Pastor D’Aldo Jones, a friend and ministry colleague of one of our pastors. After the service, I appreciated the opportunity to sit with Pastor & Lisa Jones to hear their 19 year journey of church planting in the inner city.
Thursday, a group of pastors from the Heartland Region gathered from 10 until 3 at the IWU Greenwood campus for ELEVATE, a day of leadership development with Rev. Ken Murphy, pastor of Cypress Wesleyan Church in Columbus, Ohio. One of the clarifying questions that Ken asked that day is: “Am I owning the results of the behaviors/systems that I have either created or allowed?” Another one was: “Are we focused on building a great church but neglecting to build great people?”
Later Thursday afternoon, I met with a prospective church planter in Avon who connected with us through Wesley Seminary. He’s still a few years from launching but it was encouraging to hear how God is working in his life.
Thursday evening, I met with Rev. Barry Dixon, pastor of Indianapolis Calvary Family Church and member of the Crossroads DBA, for our annual coaching conversation. Rev. Dixon is a faithful pastor in a difficult context with a heart to reach the next generation. I’m grateful for his example and encouragement.
It was good to connect with Assistant DS Chris Williams on Friday morning before heading to Indianapolis for a coaching conversation with Rev. George Martin, pastor of The Sanctuary Church. The Sanctuary Church is an affiliate congregation that leases the former Eastlawn Wesleyan Church on Post Road. They have a dynamic ministry and it was good to catch up with Pastor Martin who recently returned from a Lilly sabbatical.
Each of our 3 regions in the Crossroads District handles their own logistics for gatherings like the Christmas season. This year, Region 2, led by Assistant DS Mike Colaw, gathered at Trinity Wesleyan Church for a banquet featuring special musical guests, Zion’s Joy. Pastor Mike & Leslie and the entire Trinity Church team did a terrific job in welcoming more than 100 pastors and spouses for an inspiring evening. (Special thanks to Barbara Nichter who makes magic happen behind the scenes at Trinity.) Dr. Joe and Lois Sawyer. were among our special guests that evening. What a blessing to see their joy in the Lord!
May the joy of the Lord be our strength as we make the most of every opportunity in this Advent Season!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent