Sunday morning, May 3, I had the privilege of worshiping with Pastor Duane Seitz and the congregation of Silver Lake Wesleyan Church as they gathered for their fourth drive-in service. They’ve been blessed with clear weather for each outdoor service and today the parking lot was nearly full. It was good to see the neighbors who came out on their porches and yards to hear Pastor Seitz preach a wonderful message on peace.
Pastor Seitz was encouraged to report three individuals who professed faith in Christ, one who testified to being entirely sanctified and three new believers who were baptized in this past conference year. He shared that they have eight people who are looking forward to being baptized this summer and six individuals who are preparing for membership.
Sunday afternoon, I joined in with Pastor Matthew Trexler and a team of leaders at The River Church in Marion for a planning session led by Mark Meyer of the UnStuck Group. This was the first UnStuck consultation that we’ve done by Zoom.
Jason Tash, Chris Williams, Matthew Trexler and I are certified StratOp facilitators trained by the UnStuck Group to serve our district. We do have a limited number of weekends available in the new conference year. Let us know as early as possible if your leadership team would value hosting a StratOp planning conversation for your church.
Last week’s ministry calendar included coaching conversation with Pastor Allen Laws (Warren Wesleyan) and Pastor Ben Thomas (Avon Nehemiah Church). We hosted a Zoom connection event for 50 district pastors on Tuesday afternoon. Our Crossroads District Board of Administration met via Zoom on Thursday morning with a full agenda, including approving a conservative budget (reduced 25%). Dr. Jim Lo joined us to share an update on the prayer initiative he leads. Twelve of our retired pastors have accepted the responsibility to become prayer partners for our active pastors.
The DBA voted to approve “real-time tithing” as full participation in the FY2021 United Stewardship Fund. The goal is for churches to have financial flexibility in this emergency season while fully participating in the denominational support plan that we have adopted. Annual assessment for FY2021 USF apportionment will still be based on 10% of the previous year’s income (with exemptions or cap limitations). Each local church will receive a report of the annual and monthly USF apportionment based on that calculation.
The change approved by the DBA is that the local church may pay either the monthly portion of the USF assessment or may contribute 10% of the actual tithes, offerings, and unrestricted gifts received by the church each month. (Since there can be significant variation in monthly receipts, it will be prudent for the church to select one method for the year, rather than switching back and forth.) At the end of the year, every church that has paid 100% of their USF assessment or 100% of a real-time tithe of their receipts will be recognized as having fully participated in the United Stewardship Fund.
*** Pastors and church treasurers will be receiving direct communication about this opportunity and the steps for implementation.
On Saturday, I joined in with Assistant DS Mike Colaw’s Region 2 online connection for pastors and then dropped in on Dr. Rich Schenck and the Region 2 DBMD as they interviewed ministerial candidates.
Many of you have been praying for David Henry, Pastor Michele Henry’s husband, and joined us in celebrating last week as he returned from Fort Wayne to continue rehabilitation in Marion. We’re also encouraged by the recovery progress of Rev. Calimerio and Sister Maria Rodriguez (Frankfort) and Rev. Carol Schenck’s brother Ron. Another exciting praise note last week came from Pastor David Cox (Laketon Wesleyan) who shared that their grandson just celebrated 100 days free from leukemia.
Two of our pastors shared reports of people coming to their offices this week in tears desiring to get their lives right with God. Isn’t it wonderful to see how God is moving and lives are being changed for eternity!
Rev. John and Danielle Freed, founding pastors of Waterline Church, publicly announced that they have accepted a call to become multiplication leaders in the Great Lakes Region District beginning next month. We are deeply indebted to John and Danielle for the way they have led by example in personal evangelism and multiplication efforts here in Indiana. I was honored to have Pastor John Freed serve as my first Assistant DS when I moved to Indiana in 2015. We know they will be a blessing in this new role. Pray for the Freed family and for Waterline Church in this challenging season of transition. You can hear their full announcement here: Freed announcement to Waterline
In other developments last week, Governor Holcomb released a reopening plan for Indiana that includes Guidance for Churches. Permission to reopen is not the same as having a plan to reopen. In addition to following all necessary protocols for disinfecting and protecting individuals, churches will need to be prepared to communicate with everyone who may be exposed to the virus during one of your gatherings so that they can self-quarantine (contact tracing). Leaders will want to ensure that their team is prepared to conscientiously follow the cleaning and physical distancing guidelines of the CDC:
CDC Reopening Guidelines
As your team considers a timeline for reopening, you may want to hold some “pre-launch” or practice services before your launch or reopening Sunday. Training your team, preparing your facility, communicating with your congregation (and prospects), and praying fervently are key ingredients to preparing for re-launch. It might be possible for some of our congregations to gather in limited numbers on May 31, Pentecost Sunday, but even that timeline could be too aggressive for many of our churches.
Please allow me to repeat this again, it is far better to open two weeks later (and get it right) than to open one week too soon and not be prepared to provide excellent care for your congregation (especially for the children).
Leaders, your mission is not to see how quickly you can get people back into your building. Your mission is to make disciples who make disciples and multiply Kingdom communities to reach millions of lost people. We are relearning that we can stay on mission without a building. Regrettably, we know that it’s possible to gather people in a building without multiplying disciple-makers. Let’s keep the main thing the main thing.
HERE ARE HELPFUL RESOURCES AS YOU PREPARE FOR RE-OPENING:
Several of our churches have already received confirmation that their grant applications have been approved for the Lilly grants from the Center for Congregations. The deadline to apply for this $5000 technology grant is May 15. Seth Bye can assist your team with this grant process but many churches have already applied so don’t delay. For more information and to submit your grant application, click here: Center for Congregations Grant Form
May 31, Pentecost Sunday, is also the Sunday that The Wesleyan Church sets aside to focus on congregations multiplying to reach new communities and people groups. Dr. Ed Love has provided a great resource website to help your congregation prepare for this emphasis. The challenge is to raise awareness and financial support for the power of local church multiplication. Here’s the link: Church Multiplication Sunday
On May 31, Pentecost Sunday, Wesleyans around the world are gathering online to worship and pray for the fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit. This hour-long event begins at 7 p.m. EST. “Wesleyans are people of prayer,” said General Superintendent Wayne Schmidt. “We live and minister daily knowing that prayer is foundational to any work of the Holy Spirit. May 31 is an important time for us to be together and continue building our Kingdom Force foundation.” Pastors can find more information at: https://www.wesleyan.org/event/together
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent