Sunday morning, I was on the road early headed to Shiloh, located just a few miles north east of Plymouth. Running ahead of schedule, I took a brief detour to drop in on Pastor Mike Cloud and the good folks at The Cross Wesleyan Church in Rochester. There was an enthusiastic welcome and warm spirit of worship as they began their first service (9:15). It’s great to have Pastor Cloud back in the district after his time serving in Ohio and I’m grateful for his leadership on the Region 3 Board of Ministerial Development.
Back on the road again, I arrived at Shiloh Wesleyan Church at the crossroads of 4B and King Road. This is a classic Indiana farming community. Generations have worked the land and raised their families. Shiloh is a thriving multi-generational congregation blessed with energetic younger leaders, in Pastor Rich VanVuren and Assistant Pastor Levi Lehman, and dedicated lay leaders like David and Lisa Knepp.
The service featured a variety of music, including an enthusiastic choir, before the young ones were dismissed for Children’s Church. After the service, I conducted a brief meeting with the Local Board of Administration. I was especially encouraged to hear how the youth program is reaching more than 20 teens each week. If you’ve spent much time around me, you’ve heard me say this: “It takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people.” Shiloh is a wonderful example of a rural, multi-generational church that is still reaching people for Christ for 149 years (founded in 1868).
Last week included some scheduling adjustments. Monday’s schedule included meeting with our staff in Marion, then a lunch meeting in Upland with one of our Wesleyan laymen who serves on the Upland town council.
On Monday evening, I had the privilege of connecting with Pastor Matthew Stewart and the LBA at Sweetser Wesleyan Church. They have been prayerfully considering hosting a Maximizing Impact consultation team and wanted to learn more about the process. I enjoyed our interaction and, as a result of their unanimous vote requesting a team, I’m looking forward to getting to know these leaders better. They’ve already made significant progress under Pastor Stewart’s leadership but they’re not content while there are still people to be reached with the Gospel.
One of the things that excites me about the Crossroads District is our capacity to assist churches who want to become even more effective in their ministry. One of the things that surprises me is the reluctance of some local church leaders to welcome outside help. Both our Maximizing Impact teams and Unstuck Group consultants are available at minimal cost to our churches. Neither the district nor the consultants force a church to make any changes they are not willing to make. There is no penalty for receiving the information and declining to implement the recommendations. The desire is to simply ensure that each church has access to the best information possible to make Kingdom-minded decisions about its future.
Before He healed him, Jesus asked the man beside the pool, “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:6) Only God can heal a lame man and revive His church. But He does allow Himself to be limited by our faith (Mark 6:6) and our vision (Ephesians 3:20).
No, you don’t need a consultation team to assess your current reality, envision your preferred future, and create a pathway forward. Yes, a team of experienced leaders with an outside view can help bring fresh perspective. If you’d like to know more about how your church can access the revitalization resources provided through the Crossroads District Great Commission Fund, please contact our office as soon as possible. We have a few slots left in this conference year and are making plans for the fall.
The Warsaw Zone meeting for Region 1 was rescheduled at the last minute so I was able to work from my office on Tuesday. One of the calls I had that day was to confirm that Rev. Duane Seitz has agreed to serve out the remainder of this conference year as supply pastor at Silver Lake Wesleyan Church.
Wednesday was scheduled for a final class prep day as I got ready to teach Congregational Leadership at Wesley Seminary on Thursday. Thursday was the big day and I enjoyed connecting with these 16 students, several of whom serve in our Crossroads District.
Friday, the District Board of Ministerial Development met in Marion under the leadership of Dr. David Smith. Leadership development is a key aspect of our collaborative ministry as a district team. Those who are called to ministry are nurtured in their local church, educated through our denominational institutions and assessed through our district board before being recommended to our district conference and ordained by our General Superintendent. We are on track to have 10 or more ordinands for this year’s Crossroads District Conference Celebration. Plan to join us on June 23-24, at College Wesleyan Church in Marion.
I love the creative ways that our churches reach out to their communities. Anderson Central Wesleyan Church is rebounding under the leadership of Pastor Jerry Alexander. One of their effective community connections is through their basketball league for children, similar to a well-known national program. In another big step last evening, the congregation voted to remodel their facility and bring on staff to develop a childcare program. The church has more than doubled in attendance in the past 18 months!
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
1/30/2017 11:34:18 am
Mark - I am very excited about the vote and new initiative at Muncie Northview. I talked with my dad about this and praised him for the vote and the tremendous possibility that this legacy decision is going to make in the lives of many, many people. He laughed about the 'cotton balls lady' story you told. I suggested that, if he needed to, I would be happy to provide some cotton balls for him and mom, and encouraged them to not sit on the front row or too close to the speakers after the restart!
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