Sherry and I had the joy of worshiping with Pastor Jeff & Amy Luedtke and their team at Fairmount Wesleyan Church on Sunday morning, February 17. Pastor Jeff has served as senior pastor at Fairmount since 2012. The church has worshiped in its current location for more than 150 years but is still taking risks to reach people for Christ. Fairmount Wesleyan averaged 226 in worship last year (with 13 professions of faith and 7 baptisms) with recent Sundays running over 270 in worship.
The biggest step of faith that Fairmount took in recent years was purchasing a building in the center of town and remodeling it to create “The Branch” as an attractive gathering space for community, coffee, and delicious food. Pastor Jeff led the project and launched the ministry. Pastor Rob Tippey has now joined the team, manages the operations there, and has now launched a new worship experience on Sunday mornings. This alternative gathering features live music and the pre-recorded message from the main campus.
I brought greetings in both services at the main campus, then Sherry and I joined Jeff and Amy for the service at The Branch. The coffee shop was full with seven guests connecting for the first time. After the services, Jeff and I met briefly with the LBA and then joined our wives for lunch. As I thought about our time visiting FWC, I was reminded of the truth that we never change the message but we must always be ready (like John Wesley) to change our methods if we can find more effective ways to impact our community. Thank you to Pastor Jeff, Pastor Rob and the leadership team at Fairmount Wesleyan Church for their vision and boldness to step out in faith!
Sunday afternoon, I met with Pastor Matthew Stewart and the LBA at Sweetser Wesleyan Church as they prepare for their upcoming pastoral vote. They’ve been working diligently on the prescriptions from their Maximizing Impact consultation and I was encouraged to hear that they have 3-4 new families attending in the past several months!
Last Monday evening, I had the privilege of meeting with the LBA at The River Church in Marion to conduct the four-year review of Pastor Matthew Trexler’s extended call. The LBA unanimously affirmed Pastor Trexler’s leadership and continued service. These are exciting days at The River. They just hosted their annual “Night to Shine” in conjunction with the Tim Tebow Foundation and are making progress in their Chesterton campus.
Tuesday morning, our district staff team met for planning and prayer. After lunch, I connected with Pastor Tony Bye in Marion before a quick trip to Wabash to meet with Pastor Brian Scramlin and the team at New Journey Church. It also was good to see Assistant Pastor Megan Cox back in the office at New Journey. Many of you are aware of her experience and may know that she has another surgery upcoming as she recovers from a life-threatening medical emergency. She expressed her appreciation for the prayer support she’s been receiving from her family, friends, and our district team. Pastor Brian and his team showed me recent developments in the extreme makeover project that they’re doing on the old school building that New Journey calls home.
Wednesday morning, I was in Indy to connect with Rev. Josh Keesling and then met with Pastor Brad LeRoy (McCordsville Harvest Church) over lunch for our annual coaching conversation. Wednesday afternoon, Pastor Steve Arnett and I met in Muncie for his annual coaching conversation. My last meeting of the day was with the LBA at Elwood Main Street Wesleyan as they prepare for their congregational vote. Pastor Tim Becker’s leadership and ministry is appreciated and affirmed.
Thursday morning, I met with Rev. Rich Wollan, and then Pastor Ben Parker (Fairmount Back Creek Wesleyan Church) and I met over lunch for our annual coaching conversation. Pastor Ben is another of our 48 bi-vocational pastors who balance challenging time demands to fulfill their calling. Thursday afternoon, I participated in the monthly ZOOM meeting that our General Superintendent, Dr. Wayne Schmidt, hosts for district superintendents. My last meeting of the day was in Jonesboro with the LBA at Westview Wesleyan Church in preparation for the upcoming congregational vote for Pastor Ryan Budde. One of the new ministries that has launched under Pastor Budde’s ministry is Celebrate Recovery. I’m grateful for Westview and each of our churches who are taking faith-filled steps to minister to those trapped in addictions!
Friday morning, I met with Pastor Mark Atkinson (Gas City Eastview) for an update on developments at their Jonesboro campus. Pastor Brent Miller (Gas City Southside) and I met at Abbey Coffee in preparation for his upcoming pastoral vote. Then, Pastor Daniel Van Cise (Marion West 8th Street Wesleyan) and I met over lunch for our annual coaching conversation. Pastor Dan, another of our committed bi-vocational pastors, has faithfully served at West 8th Street since 2008.
Saturday morning, I joined Assistant DS Chris Williams, Rev. Matthew Stewart, and Rev. Ben Capshaw who were at North Anderson Wesleyan Church on a team with our lead consultant, Rev. Paul James (Church Health Initiative). Pastor David Shafer and Executive Pastor James Stamper did a great job hosting the Maximizing Impact consultation. Pastor David posted this review on FaceBook: “What a fantastic weekend at North Anderson Wesleyan Church. I believe God is going to do some awesome things.”
*** If you’d like to explore how your church could benefit from a Maximizing Impact consultation, please connect with Rev. Chris Williams (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Crossroads District Youth All-Nighter happens this Friday night in Fort Wayne. Pray for our students and their leaders as they gather. This event has been a significant moment of spiritual transformation for so many teenagers!
Also on Friday, the Region 1 South Zone 1 pastors (Zone Leader – Jeff Luedtke) will be gathering for an evening of fellowship and prayer at our home. Sherry and I appreciate these opportunities to connect more deeply with our team members.
ReEquip 2019 is just around the corner! I am delighted that Pastor Mike & Tina Hilson (New Life Network in LaPlata, MD) are coming as our keynote speakers. Leaders are learners so bring your team with you to Brookhaven Wesleyan Church on April 6!
The very next weekend, April 12-13, is vital as we prepare to celebrate Easter and to ask for God to empower us for Great Commission service. Thank you to Dr. Jim Lo and our team of intercessors for inviting our district pastors and lay leaders into this special event.
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
P.S. – Here’s a challenging reminder from E.M. Bounds on the power of prayer:
“God has of his own motion placed himself under the law of prayer, and has obligated himself to answer the prayers of men. He has ordained prayer as a means whereby he will do things through men as they pray, which he would not otherwise do. If prayer puts God to work on earth, then, by the same token, prayerlessness rules God out of the world’s affairs, and prevents him from working. The driving power, the conquering force in God’s cause is God himself. ‘Call on me and I will answer thee and who thee great and mighty things which though knowest not,’ is God’s challenge to prayer. Prayer puts God in full force into God’s work.” [E.M. Bounds “The Weapon of Prayer” Chap. 2]