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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.