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Monday, December 22, 2008

I Believe

Good morning!

Now I believe! After three days of steady snow and over two feet of accumulation, Susan and I have now been welcomed to the northland. Yesterday afternoon, I even took the snow blower for a trial run. After discovering that the electric start wouldn’t work unless the machine was plugged into an outlet (a great way to bond with your neighbor), the snow blower fired right up. In no time at all, a beautiful, twenty-foot arc of snow testified that I was mastering this northern art. Yes, if you must know, this was the first time I had ever used a snow blower. I sold my snow shovel for $1.00 when I left Kansas! I even took pictures for those of you who might doubt.

While I was on my maiden snow-blowing voyage, my son-in-law decided to clear the two plus feet of snow from the office roof. He climbed onto the roof, shovel and all, and made a great deal of noise as he made a great heap of snow on the ground. He appeard to get great joy leaping several times from the roof and burying himself in the cold, wet stuff. I’ve never claimed that the girls married for I.Q.

Unless we have a gigantic heat wave, the likes of which Global Warming has never seen, I’d say that we are going to have (not dream of) of white Christmas. I add this for my Florida friends who will find the snow blowing picture amazing. This time last year, I was taking stress-free, fifteen-minute rides on my recumbent bike (in my shorts and T-shirt) while admiring palm trees and watching the mowing crews.

Isn’t God surprising? I read this morning (Swindoll) that God has more moves in mind for us than we could possibly anticipate. And all moves are not geographical. Many are attitude adjustments. Some mean moving out of our comfort zones to touch the lives of people we’ve never met. I suspect the days ahead are going to bring change, not only to Susan and me, but to you as well! May God give us grace to adjust with joy!

Pastor Paul

Monday, December 15, 2008

100-Day Goals - Part 4

Ninety days ago today, we boarded a plane that would bring us to our new home and ministry. We felt called then; we feel more so now!

I have now completed my goal of seeing all the churches and visiting with all the pastors within the first 100 days. On Saturday, the 13th, I rolled into Hague, a village that resembled a winter wonderland and met with Pastor Skip. The creek behind the church bubbled with joy, sharing my excitement as I finished what I had set out to accomplish. During these days I traveled over 11,000 miles, saw numerous deer and turkey, saw downtown Boston and Providence, and traveled up, over, and through four mountain ranges. I battled my way through several snowstorms, experienced -15 degrees temperatures, and purchased a couple of pairs of warm boots. And earlier, I saw the leaves turn to beautiful reds, oranges and yellows and marveled at the magnificence of God’s handiwork.

I have met pastors early and late, alone and with their families. I have seen some of the best territory on the planet and stood in churches that were built before the start of the Civil War. I’ve seen scores of antique tables, donated by who knows who—many of them buried in cluttered storage rooms, attics or basements. I’ve noticed that churches tend to fill up with “stuff” and spring cleaning is a must if we truly want to be ready for company. I have stood in basement after basement after basement. Some were well lit and well utilized, while others were “enter at your own risk”. I noticed once again that every youth area is a magnet for discarded couches and overstuffed chairs, and that most pastors have a messy desk even if they knew I was coming!

I have listened to the call of God on your lives; of sacrifices and miracles.

I’ve looked into the eyes of gallant men and women who serve God with hearts of love and hands of service.

I have heard desires for coaching and growth opportunities and sensed a dissatisfaction with ‘business as usual’.

I have cried over sacrifice and been frustrated over indifference.

I have smiled over victories and laughed at inexperience.

I have winced over misplaced priorities and fumed at poor time management.

I have been reminded again and again that everything rises and falls on leadership.

I have sensed a renewed interest and emphasis on soul-winning and have listened to stories of changed lives—and rejoiced!

I have watched prepared teams lead services expecting God show up—and He has.

I have begged God to keep visitors away until we have a chance to improved the image we’re putting forth.

I have listened to optimistic, faith-filled dreams.

I have heard excuses of why “nothing good can ever happen here”.

Now is the time to move on—
to plan for the next 90 days,
to set fresh goals and implement new ideas,
to grow—to grow together with my new team,
to live life together—and be better because we did so,
to strive to live life at the summit.

‘Living life at the summit’ is something that you will hear more about in the days ahead!

One of my favorite quotes comes from Jim Rohn and has been called The Challenge…

Let others lead small lives, but not you.
Let others argue over small things, but not you.
Let others cry over small hurts, but not you.
Let others leave their future in someone else’s hands, but not you.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Main Thing!

The phone rang! The vice-chairman of Cobleskill Wesleyan Church was calling to report on a move of God in their morning services. Excitement was in his voice; I could feel his passion. "One of our laymen spoke this morning," Wes said. "It was his first time to do something like this and he did a great job. The best part, however, was that God showed up. Eight individuals stood when given opportunity to indicate that they were inviting Christ into their lives. We are now busy following up on them."

The pastor's wife from Corinth (who is my executive assistant) reported, "We had a lady receive Christ, and she was back the next week with two family members. She expressed a desire to be a part of our church life and is eager to get involved in Bible studies, as well as fellowship."

Colton Wesleyan recently had a harvest dinner. Forty-five individuals were present, including a nurse form the hospital where Pastor Dettmer serves as chaplain. When the altar call was given, this friend knelt at the altar and invited Christ into his heart. The next day at work he said to Pastor Dettmer, "I feel like a new man!"

The pastor at Waterford Wesleyan said, "I didn't even know the young man who prayed to receive Christ last week. He showed up and God met his need."

After preaching about life-change last Sunday in Springfield, MA, I asked for raised hands from those who were interested in receiving Christ. Several responded! Before leaving, I put my arm around one lady and whispered, "Don't put it off. Have that life-changing conversation with your pastor soon." "Perhaps today," she replied.

In Norfolk, God showed up. Grown men sat in the pews with tears in their eyes. Again hands were raised, indicating that were not far from Christ.

Life-change is taking place in the ENY/NE District.

We resolve, do we not, to keep the main thing the main thing.

Reaching out in love to those who have hurts, habits and hang-ups is our number one task. Leading them to a personal relationship with Christ is our business; why we exist.

Our mission is: Unleashing a team of energized leaders to multiply life-changing churches.

Consider yourself unleashed.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Pastor’s Retreat and Values

In our recent pastor and spouse retreat, we spent an hour around tables discussing the values of the ENY/NE District. After talking for a while, each group placed values on sticky notes and placed them on our Journey Wall. According to this exercise, the following are things that we have valued across the years.
· Tradition
· Familiarity
· District Superintendents
· Legalism
· History
· Inward focus
· The Word
· Pastoral heart
· Heritage
· Campmeeting
· Small town
· Family atmosphere of district
· Anniversaries
· Traditional way of doing church
· Communication among churches
· Stability

In the general discussion that fallowed, someone blurted out, “What we have valued has been mostly about us.”

While many of the values in this list are admirable, upon closer examination, one begins to see that acceptance, growth, change, and risk-taking had no place in our value system. Instead, we were comfortable with “the same”. We did not want our boat rocked. Outsiders and outside ideas were held at arm’s length. This resulted in stagnant thinking and little growth.

We then turned our attention to the values that we want to have as we move forward into a new era. Once again, discussion took place around the tables and sticky notes went on the wall. This time a different set of values surfaced.
· Soul-winning
· Global ministry focus
· Church planting
· Spiritual formation
· Teamwork
· Leadership recruitment
· Preaching and living the Word
· Caring for one another
· Leadership integrity
· Respect for each other
· Support of the pastors
· Retired pastors
· Accountability
· Heart holiness
· Church refocusing
· Leadership development
· Generational ministries
· Encouraging the call to ministry
· Prayer
· Teambuilding
· Open-mindedness to change
· Diversity
· Vision

As the values went up on the wall, one could sense an awareness coming over the group. “You know, if we always do what we have always done, we will always get what we have always gotten. Insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. We are not wanting ‘church as usual.’”

A spirit of hope and expectancy was in the air as it was verbalized that we did not have to stay where we are. Although much of our heritage has been good, it is now in the past. Going forward we must embrace these new values if we are to serve our generation. Otherwise, as a district, we will continue to drift along until the district has no strength nor will to live left.

Someone who had attended the meeting later said, “I have considered my values from time to time and I’ve been aware that there is a difference between ‘actual’ values (i.e. what my behavior reveals that I value) and ‘preferred’ values (i.e. what I wish I valued), but what occurred to me for the first time in this new discussion of district values is that I/we can and should be intentional about what we value and that our preferred values can, in fact, become actual values if we come to believe them to the point that it influences our behavior.”

Now that you have had time together and the discussions of our Journey Wall, I would welcome your comments and observations. In a later communication, I will share with you, based on these preferred values, some of the direction that God has shown the DBA at their recent strategic planning retreat.

100-Day Goals - Part Three


Fifty-eight days have now passed since our Southwest flight belched us out on your shores. I’ve kept you abreast of my 100-day goals. Here is a new update!

X 1. Move into the District Center. We are now officially in. Most of the boxes have been emptied. Major pieces of furniture are in place; however, the accent pieces and pictures still haven’t found their new home. Experience tells me that we have several more weeks (or months) of “let’s try this over here “ or “no, let’s put it back where it was”. I move each piece joyfully, taking the opportunity to bless the helpmate that God has given me. :)
X 2. I am enjoying my new office. It’s bright, cheerful, and full of the books that have helped shape my life. When a few more filing cabinets and the electric fireplace arrive, all will be complete. Then I will be ready to hibernate through these cold, snowy days and long dark evenings that you keep telling me about. Am I mistaken, or is it getting dark in the middle of the day now?
X 3. I have hired Cam Engert as my executive assistant. She is the wife of Dick Engert, pastor of the Corinth Wesleyan Church. The Engerts are the parents of three sons and have been in ministry for 26 years. Cam started on Nov. 3 and has already been a blessing to me and others in the district. She will be in the office from 9am to 2pm Monday thru Thursday. Usually someone will be here from 2pm to 4pm (Susan or me) to answer the phones and serve you. Fridays have traditionally been my day off. I hope to continue that practice once I get through the first 100 days.
X 4. We had a great minister’s and spouse’s retreat at Schroon Lake. Reports and feedback indicate that healing and teambuilding took place. I came away with a better understanding of the ENY/NE District and a greater appreciation for my co-workers. Truly, God is “unleashing a team of energized leaders to multiply life-changing churches”.
X 5. Zone Christmas parties are now scheduled:
Ø Central Zone – December 11
Ø Champlain Zone – December 1
Ø New England Zone – December 6
Ø Southern Zone – Pending
Ø St. Lawrence Zone – Pending
/ 6. & 7. Visiting the churches. Now that the minister’s retreat and DBA retreat are over, I can concentrate more on seeing churches/parsonages and getting-acquainted times with our pastors and their families. As of now, I have gotten to half of the churches (notice the half checkmark).
X 8. DBA Retreat. The DBA spent last Friday evening and Saturday at the Queensbury Hotel in a strategic planning retreat. Our hearts were challenged as we began to visualize what “God is putting into our hearts” for the Eastern New York/New England District. One member of the DBA who has been in the district his entire life told me later that this weekend was, for him, the high-water mark of district activities and that he was thrilled to be a part of the direction God is leading us.
/ 9. Closing on the sale of the West Chazy Bible Camp. On October 21, our attorney, Patricia, called. She indicated that she had just witnessed a miracle. As most of you know, the “Attorney General’s office and the State Supreme Court have to approve the sale of property by non-profit organizations in New York. This ensures that trustees and board members are doing what is best for their organization. Usually the paperwork takes at least two
months to be approved. Patricia said that when she dropped off the paperwork, the judge said, “Go eat lunch, and come back.” The paperwork was completed in an hour! We are waiting for closing and have been for over three weeks. Amazing!
10. Pastoral Searches. I am still working with Cobleskill, Huevelton, Brookdale, and Ft. Miller, as they search for a pastor. This may be the most elusive of the ten goals to accomplish. However, we are eager to find and get to know the leaders that God has for these communities of Believers.

There you have it. The 100-day goals and where we stand. Thanks for holding me accountable and for helping me when you can in my quest to have a productive first 100 days.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


The moment of truth has arrived; the moment you have all been preparing me for. It is supposed to snow tonight. Not much snow by your standards: 4-8 inches here in Queensbury and a foot in the higher elevations. Rick, our home remodeller who has become a part of our family came in to prepare me.

"You won't need to break out the blower," he said, "just use the shovel on this one. In fact, I'll put the shovel out where you can find it."

He went on to explain how heavy wet snow on the remaining leaves could lead to snapped branches and downed power lines. "It's the loss of power that gets you," he went on. "You have no computer, no way to read, no TV and no heat. It's just several days of camping out in the dark. That's what drives people crazy. Did you know that Vermont has the highest rate of suicide due to the long, dark winters? But not to worry, we aren't in Vermont."

"No," I thought, "But we are right next door. We get the same snow, the same dark, and make the same syrup. It seems to me that we are kinda like kissin' cousins to Vermont. But we'll be okay. We've already been camping out for longer than three days. It's made us a bit daft, but it hasn't driven us over the edge yet."

Would you believe that all of our furniture and boxes are now in the house. We (well, Susan was still in Philly with her dad) moved in on Saturday, with help from four guys I hired. Did I mention that the movers were supposed to arrive at 9:30 am when the weather was very nice? If they had come then instead of at 3:30 pm we would not have been moving in the dark, in a driving rainstorm and I could have turned the truck in earlier that 10:00 pm. They also seemed surprised that I was concerned that what I smelled on their breath might hinder their judgement and coordination a bit.

"Guys," I told them, "I know this doesn't look like much, but it's all we have. Take care of it please."

But it's over! We have our stuff under one roof. Now the fun part, making a house a home. Susan has excelled as a homemaker in the eleven houses in which we have lived. Books and favorite chairs; blankets and family pictures; a place to sit and a place to read and, before long, it's home. In fact, I have Susan and her friend Pat working in the kitchen as I write - perhaps tomorrow I'll get some grits!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

First 100 Days - Part 2

It has been two weeks since our last communication. In the spirit of accountability I thought I should bring you up to date on the list of 100 day goals that I shared earlier:

1) Move into the District Center. The workmen are 90% finished. In fact, they anticipate everything being completed this week. However, with the ordination service and the minister’s retreat just ahead, I think we will wait to move in on October 23rd.

As most of you have experienced in periods of transition, everything that can go wrong will go wrong. And this transition has been no different. As you remember, we moved into two rooms on the lower level of the “district center” where we are camping until we officially move in. One day after Susan left for Indiana to be with our daughter who was due with our eighth grandchild, the furnace went out. Chelsea, our dog and I, warmed ourselves by the two electric heaters that were graciously made available to us. And yes, it was during the cold snap. One morning as I showered I felt “things” backing up around my ankles and stuff between my toes. You guessed it. The sewer picked this moment to back up. I was grateful that Susan was away for this.

However, the furnace is now fixed and we are toasty warm. The sewer is now fixed and all is well – but I do want to thank Dick Osborne! While I was away on a long day, Dick went beyond the call of duty by cleaning up a royal mess in the downstairs bath. Dick, it wasn’t expected but was greatly appreciated!

2. My books are unpacked and the office is 90% set up. It should be completed as soon as a couple of files arrive!

3. We are accepting resumes for an executive assistant to work alongside me in the office.

4. Approximately 80 are registered for the minister’s retreat. I am looking forward to these two days with my team. Our formal and informal times together will set the tone for our year together. This is an “all hands on deck” event and all team members should be present.

5. Zone chairman should be scheduling the zone Christmas Parties with my office. This is assuming that you wish for me to show up!

6. I have seen 20 churches and parsonages so far…

7. Little by little I’m sitting down with pastor’s and spouses to get acquainted. I’ll schedule more of these times while at the district retreat next week.

8. An overnight DBA Retreat is set for November 7-8, 2008.

9. The sale of the camp moves forward as lawyers work to get proposals to the Attorney General’s office and the Supreme Court.

10. I appointed Dick Engert as interim pastor at Corinth, Paul Dettmer to Colton, and Jonathan Hunter to West Chazy. I am working with Cobleskill, Brookdale, Heuvelton, and Fort Miller in their pastoral searches.

Susan is now home and we have a new grandson – Josiah Michael!

Don’t forget the Ordination Service this Sunday evening for Gloria Strong at the Lisbon Wesleyan Church. Dr. Thomas Armiger will be the speaker and the meeting will begin at 7:00 p.m.

Be praying for our District Youth Camp this weekend – beginning on Friday evening.

All in all a very eventful two weeks,

Pastor Paul

First 100 Days - Part 1 (9/30/08)

Dear Leader and Team Player of Eastern New York/New England District:


Just 3 ½ weeks ago we were gathered at the firehouse for district conference. A lot of water has gone over the dam since then. Susan and I have been very busy but very happy people. We believe that we are in the center of God’s will. You are our people and we love you! God has brought us together to share this stage of the journey – to do life together.

On July 2nd in my devotions I read these verses regarding the conversion of Saul: “Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on the road to Damascus. Barnabas also told then what the Lord had said to Saul and how he boldly preached in the name of Jesus in Damascus. The apostles accepted Saul, and after that he was constantly with them in Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord…then the church had peace throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria, and it grew in strength and numbers. The believers were walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.”

As I read these verses, the Holy Spirit whispered to me:
*You will be accepted in Eastern New York/New England
*You will be constantly with them (your team)
*You will preach boldly
*The churches will have peace
*The churches will grow in number and strength
*The believers will walk in the fear of the Lord
*The believers will be comforted by the Holy Spirit.

Today (Tuesday) Susan flies to Indiana to be with our daughter, Beth, who is scheduled to deliver our eighth grand child this week. When she returns in approximately 10 days, we hope that the district center will be ready to move into. While she is away, I’ll be living in two of the downstairs rooms of the district parsonage that are not undergoing renovation.

We are both anticipating the minister’s retreat October 20-21. This teambuilding event will set the tone for our first year together. If you have not yet registered, please do so today by contacting Jeff Turcotte at (518) 293-7149.

I have been asked to speak in all the sessions so that we can get better acquainted. Please pray with me that God will continue His Spirit of renewal and healing that was evident at conference. During the retreat I’ll bring you up to speed on happenings from across the district.

When leaders join organizations, they often have a list of goals they hope to accomplish during the that first 100 days. Here is what I believe God want us to accomplish between now and January 1st:

1. Get moved into the district center
2. Get my office set up with books unpacked and all office equipment and computers working properly
3. Hire office personnel. Dean Brown did a splendid job but now wishes to focus on building Ridge Road Wesleyan Church. We are grateful for all that Dean did to keep the office going during the time of the DS search. Thanks, Dean!
4. Have a wonderful team building ministerial retreat with all our pastors and spouses present.
5. Have great teambuilding Christmas parties in each of our zones.
6. I will see every parsonage and church.
7. I will sit down with every pastor and spouse for a time of fellowship and “getting acquainted.”
8. Have a DBA retreat to get direction and set goals.
9. Close on the sale of the camp to the association.
10. Have a pastor, interim pastor, or interim plan for each church.

You will be happy to know that the district sent Ralph and Linda Chapman on a three-day vacation – all expenses paid – as a way of showing our appreciation for his work as Acting District Superintendent. Ralph reports they went to Vermont, rested and had a great time. Thanks, Ralph and Linda!

In closing, I want to once again emphasize the Ministerial Retreat. Some of the topics and key words that you will hearing during our two days together will be:

*Soul Winning!

Until the 20th!

Pastor Paul

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Minister's Retreat 2008

We just came off  a 30-hour retreat with my team of 80 leaders.  I shared with them the principle of The Law of the Take-away and here are some of their responses to the questions I left with them:

1. As you go from the retreat, what will you be thinking about?

"What a great gathering and what a great DS.  I feel like we have been drawn closer together as a district than we have in years."

"I will be thinking about how fulfilling this time was."

"How I can reach the souls of my youth in our local schools."

"Loving, serving and giving with all my heart.  I will be thinking bigger and how glad and fulfilled I feel."


"The potential that is ours to touch New York and New England with the message of Jesus Christ"

2. What has God spoken to you about?

"Strengthening of team-building"
"A stronger focus on the purpose of ministry"
"Aspiring to go higher than I've been before - keeping thrilled about Jesus!"
"Time away to re-group"
"I can change and grow and become a better leader"

3. What did you learn?

"There is a place for everyone to serve"
"We need a new vision and set of goals"
"It's His kingdom - I'm an ambassador willing, ready and excited"
"God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things"
"The value and spiritual power associated with a great leader following his dream and inviting others to go with him to see it fulfilled"

4. What are you excited about?

"There are better days to come"
"The future"
"Where our team is heading"
"I'll never be the same.  The souls that are going to be won and all the new churches and pastors God is going to raise up"
"All the tools that you have given us that will help us take our churches and district to a new health level"
"New churches, new leaders, and new faces in our churches"

What did you take away from our time together at the retreat?  Let me know!