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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Another Transformational Weekend

This past weekend, I had an amazing experience!  Rev. Norm Mesel, Rev. Marc Watkins and I were the  team that conducted the consultation at our Morley church.

This church was begun in 1843.  If you know much about Wesleyan Church History, you will remember that Orange Scott withdrew from the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1843 to begin the Wesleyan Methodist Connection of North America.  Evidently, Morley was one of the very first churches in this loosely-organized group of churches.

Over the past 169 years, this church has gone through multiple life cycles.  Just recently, it was at the low end of the cycle, not far from death.  A group of 25-30 people hung on, hoping that something would reinvigorate their church and their outreach to their community.  A few months ago, Zack and Carla Working, from Indiana, responded to the call to pastor this church.  Since their arrival, there has been renewed energy in the church.

This past weekend, we experienced a wonderful sense of renewal.  On Sunday, 65 people, many of them younger, poured into the sanctuary to hear the prescription that we trust will bring renewed health.  That prescription follows below.

Two things I have learned...

1)  The cluster groups that we call Success University (SU) are imperative to building a strong district team, and 2)  The consultations that we call the District Transformation Project are another vital ingredient in church and district renewal.

I just told my administrative assistant, Cam, this morning that these two things alone could totally occupy a man's time, energy and prayer.

And now for the consultation report...

                Morley Wesleyan Church Consultation Report
                                       March 23-25, 2012


1.  Pastoral Leadership:

The people of Morley Wesleyan Church are grateful for the pastoral family that God has sent them.  Pastors Zack and Carla Working are a ministerial team that obviously love the Lord, each other, and the church where God has planted them.  The congregation has confidence in the direction that the church is headed.

2.  Lay Commitment:

Through thick and thin, feast and famine, a dedicated core of leaders have tenaciously clung to the fact that God planted Morley Wesleyan church in the North Country.

3.  Roomy Facilities and Campus:

Vision and foresight of those who have blazed the trail at Morley Wesleyan Church have led to adequate parking, a solid worship center, and a useful activities center.  Though needing to be refurbished, the facilities offer a wonderful canvas on which to paint.

4.  Above Average Giving:

A dedicated core have generously and courageously supported the church with their tithes and offerings, thus making ministry possible.  Going forward, these, plus those who are joining them, will continue to provide financial resources for the ongoing ministries.

5.  Welcoming Congregation:

Many with whom we spoke shared that the welcoming , friendly congregation made attending the church like being with family.


1.  Lack of Vision:

Morley Wesleyan Church has no clear vision statement.  This lack of clarity has caused an absence of focus and intentionality, and has led to a "keep the doors open" mentality vs. a "let's impact our community for Christ" attitude.

2.  Lack of Children/Youth/Young Adults

Failure to provide an engaging, ongoing ministry to children, youth and young adults has led to a graying congregation with few young families and young adults.

3.  Tired Facilities

While solidly built, the buildings have not been updated for a long time.  In order to make them attractive to today's family, a  room-by-room refurbishing is necessary.

4.  Outreach and Assimilation

Morley Wesleyan Church has been focused on taking care of those already in the church rather than focusing on those outside the church who need Christ.  This has resulted in an 'it's all about us' mentality.

5.  Staff and Leadership Development

For too long the leadership team and ministry positions have been held by a few.  This has led to the perception that only a few make the decisions necessary for this congregation.


1.  Vision

The pastor and people of Morley Wesleyan Church will adopt the following vision statement: "Morley Wesleyan Church exists to honor God by making new disciples for Jesus Christ" (The Great Commission).  The vision statement will be in place by June 10, 2012.

The pastor will lead the church in a ministry audit.  Those ministries that do not support or aid in implementing the vision will be coached so they know how to make disciples. Failure to implement the vision in any ministry means that the ministry must cease to exist.

The church will define the community for which it is responsible.  Upon completion of this demographic work, the leadership will prayerfully select two numbers.  The first number will represent the lives to be touched for Christ through acts of service over the next five years.  The second number will represent souls to be reached with the Gospel during the next five years.  These numbers will be in place by July 30, 2012.

In anticipation of this new vision and mission of the congregation, the pastor shall lead his people in a service of prayer and repentance, asking God to forgive the lack of intentionality and passion in reaching the lost.  In planning this service, the pastor will consult with two of the district transformation pastors who have led their congregations in one of these services.  In addition the congregation will read and discuss The Externally Focused Church by Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson.  This will be completed by June 10, 2012.

A new job description for Pastor Carla focusing on the Executive Pastor/Children's Pastor will be developed.  Her position will develop into a co-ministry position with her husband.  A stipend for this position should be considered.  A budget line for Children's Ministry  must be one of the top items in the 2012-2013 church budget.  Several thousands of dollars is not too much to consider, thus other line items must be adjusted accordingly.

A road trip for children's ministry and decoration/construction workers will be organized to visit other DTP churches that have recently updated their children's ministry areas.  This will be put in place by May 1, 2012.  On June 16, at least a dozen workers will attend the district Unleash 2012 training day.

Prompt attention will be given to upgrading the nursery to a cozy modern space.  This area will be staffed.  If babies are not present for the service, the worker will spend time praying that God will send young families with babies to the Morley Wesleyan Church.

3.  Facilities:

The team wishes to affirm the Morley Wesleyan Church for the present emphasis on remodeling the current buildings.  The new fellowship/cafe area located beside the Worship Center is stunning.  The warming/cleanup kitchen will create versatility that will only add to the connection ministry that is already taking place.

The Activity/Youth Center will be viewed as an outreach tool provided by God.  The pastor will lead the LBA in rewriting guidelines for the use of this building, with special attention given to making sure that it is available to the youth of the community on a regular basis.  Also, it will be made available to community groups and families and other churches wanting to use it to minister to youth.  This building must not sit vacant.  It must be used and maintained as a resource given by God and one for which we will give account to God.  This guideline will be updated by July 1, 2012.  The new guidelines will be forwarded to the District Superintendent so he can make sure adequate insurance coverage is in place.

A new lighted church sign will replace the old one that now sits by the church porch.  To be located at the front of the main parking areas, its modern glow, including website address, will tell to all that the Morley Wesleyan Church is alive and on the move.  A new website is also designed. The new sign and website are to be completed by September 30, 2012.

A schedule for continuing the renovations of the entire campus, both inside and out, will be developed by the pastor, trustees and LBA.  The timeline of projects, projected cost, etc. will be ready by August 15, 2012.  This includes employing a professional consultant, such as Ernie Reed from Sherwin Williams, to give guidance regarding a campus-wide decoration theme.

Fundraising for these projects will continue.  If the $30,000 goal is not reached by December 30, 2012, the pastor and LBA, along with the District Superintendent, shall explore the possibility of a short-term loan in order to make it feasible to complete the renovations in a timely fashion.  The team recognizes that the extent of renovations needed may take longer than the one-year prescription deadline.

4.  Outreach

The pastor, along with his coach, shall plan four bridge events during the 2012-2013 church year.  The church budget shall be adjusted to reflect this new emphasis on outreach.  The pastors, Zack and Carla, must place an unusual emphasis on reaching and assimilating new attenders and new believers into the Morley Wesleyan Church.  This will be accomplished, in part, by taking a team to Unleash 2012 to learn about assimilation.

Training for ushers, greeters, and follow-up teams will take place.  Emphasis will be placed on newcomer events and New Believer classes.  Whenever a conflict arises regarding a ministry to existing members and reaching new attenders, the new attenders will be given preference in time and resources.

VBS will be one of the huge outreach events of 2012.  That, along with Trunk-or-Treat/Fall Festival and the annual Children's Christmas Program, will offer the opportunity to attract young families to view the new children's worship area.  Once again, proper monies must be allocated to make these events possible.

Also, Missions, both foreign and local, must be given adequate place in the 2012-2013 budget.  The Missions Team will develop priorities for where these funds will be invested...whether in lives here or abroad!

5.  Staff/Leadership Development

Moving to a team that leads and executes ministries will be initiated by April 30, 2013.  Pastor Zack shall give priority to recruiting and training individuals who will be ministry leaders in areas such as worship, children, youth, assimilation, etc.

This ministry team will meet monthly to set goals and programs, plan special days and events as well as for leadership development.  Recognizing that the Board governs, the pastor leads, the staff manages, and the congregation ministers will be an ongoing part of the growth of the congregational structure as it moves toward a larger organizational pattern.


The Consultation Team:

Rev. W. Paul James
Rev. Norman Mesel
Rev. Marc Watkins

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

DTP - Round Two

This past weekend we began round two of the District Transformation Project.  Rev. Dick Osborne and I comprised the consultation team.  The church going through the consultation process was the Forest Dale Wesleyan Church, Brandon, VT, pastored by Rev. John McDonald.

Following are the strengths, concerns and prescriptions for helping them become a more healthy church...

Forest Dale Wesleyan Church Consultation Report
March 16 - 18, 2012   


1.  Loving and Caring Congregation

This congregation welcomes and accepts new people with love and grace.   Repeatedly, we heard that the number one strength of this congregation was the honesty and genuineness in relationships, while welcoming others without judgment or prejudice.

2.  Pastor and Spouse

The people of the congregation value highly the ministry of Pastor John and Cheryl McDonald.  They speak well of Pastor John's preaching and his care and concern for the congregation.  This couple demonstrates team work in both marriage and in congregational ministry.

3.  VBS Outreach

Numerous individuals mentioned that VBS was one of the highlights of the year, with 50-60 children involved.  The VBS was, by far, the most-mentioned ministry when those interviewed were asked to share about ministry involvement.

4.  Generous Congregation that Continues to Give During Troubled Economic Times

Those who give to the work of the congregation do it generously.  While there is still room for improvement, for a church this size, giving is above normal.

5.  Strong Desire Throughout Congregation to See God's House Full of People Coming to Christ

Repeatedly we heard, "We want to see this house of worship full, and we want to reach the lost for Christ."


1.  No Vision and a Failure to Intentionally Reach Out to Make Disciples

There is no clear vision statement and as a result there is a lack of clarity about the mission and vision.  This has led to outreach/disciple making being talked about but rarely being practiced.

2.  Inadequate Facility and Lack of Parking

A building over 130 years old and an odd-shaped property chopped up by numerous buildings does not lend itself to the ministry of making disciples.

3.  Lack of Follow-Up and Assimilation

The lack of follow-up and assimilation of those who visit the church for events, like VBS, short-circuits the outreach process and demoralizes those who work hard to put on special events.

4.  Worship Service that Reaches All Ages

The format, staging and technology used to worship needs to be upgraded in order to appeal to individuals of all ages.  In order to reach a younger age group, their  preferences must be addressed.

5.  Lack of Involvement/Ownership in the Ministry of the Church

Over and over we heard that only a few are engaged in the ministries of the church, while the majority are not involved or do not feel empowered to use their giftedness in the Body.


1.  Vision

The pastor and the people will adopt the following vision statement:  Forest Dale Wesleyan Church exists to honor God by making new disciples for Jesus Christ.  This will be in place by June 1, 2012.  The Forest Dale Wesleyan Church will define the community to which Christ has called it.  Upon completing the definition, the congregation shall prayerfully select two numbers--one indicating the number of lives in this area to be touched for Christ through acts of service during the next five years, and the other indicating the number of souls to be reached with the Gospel during the next five years.  These numbers will be selected by July 1, 2012.

In anticipation of this new vision and mission of the congregation, the pastor shall lead his people in a service of prayer and repentance--a time of asking God to forgive the lack of intentionality and passion for reaching the lost. Following this service, a bus tour will be taken of the target area with strategic stops to pray for schools, public facilities, etc.  This will be completed by June 10, 2012.

2.  Inadequate Facility/Lack of Parking

The pastor will lead the congregation in leveling the carriage house that stands behind the parsonage.  Once leveled, grading and graveling will be done to add additional parking spaces.  A small storage shed will be placed at the back of the lot for lawn mowers, etc.

The old school building that sits on the property will be remodeled so that it can be used year-round.  The large room will be subdivided into a pastor's office/meeting room, with the rest becoming a children's worship center.  A task force will visit two sister churches to see what they have recently accomplished in remodeling their children's areas.

A modern bathroom will be placed in the corner of the present foyer, thus making it possible for a bathroom to be accessible to all.  The inner set of sanctuary doors will be replaced by French doors, giving a warm, inviting look into the sanctuary.

The present nursery and office in the basement will be reversed, with much care given to make the nursery area the most attractive space in the building.  New carpets will be installed, walls painted and adequate lighting will be addressed.

These projects will be completed by September 30, 2012. 

Fundraising for these special projects should proceed immediately, with emphasis given to asking current families to give $1000 - $2000 where possible.  If fundraising falters, consideration should be given to a short-term loan so that projects can be completed in a timely manner

3.  Follow-Up/Assimilation

The pastor must see his role change from being the chaplain of the congregation to the following...

1)  Preaching and calling the congregation to address spiritual issues;

2) Producing and directing worship;

3)  Developing leaders, empowering leaders and holding leaders accountable;

4)  Representing the congregation to the various communities that the congregation serves;

5) Overseeing bridge events and assimilation/follow-up.

This job description will be in place by July 1, 2012

It is imperative that the pastor's office outside of his home be completed ASAP.  Office hours will be instituted and a volunteer clerical person recruited to help the pastor organize the church to operate like a church of 150.  The pastor shall focus on gathering and assimilating during this season of church transformation.

During the next year, the pastor shall lead the congregation in four bridge events and the follow-up events necessary for assimilation.  His coach will help select the time and type of events and aid in assessing their effectiveness.

4.  Worship

In order to introduce more modern equipment into the worship experience, a new sound system will be installed along with a projector to use with the big screen.

To open up the platform and allow the speaker/musicians closer contact with the congregation, the communion table will be moved to the back wall.  Extra furniture and instruments will be removed from the platform and other areas tidied up.

5.  Ministry Involvement/Leadership Training

Emphasis will be placed on recruiting and training congregants to execute ministries.  Where no leader is available, that ministry will cease until God provides a leader.  The pastor will recruit and appoint leaders for the Worship Team, Children's Ministry Team, Assimilation Team and Small Groups Team.  These four will serve as the nucleus of the Ministry Team that will meet monthly for leadership development, goal setting, planning and accountability.  This team will be in place and functioning by September 1, 2012.

A delegation of at least 12 individuals will attend Unleash 2012, the training event offered by the district, on June 16, 2012.

Understanding that worship, assimilation and children's ministry drive the growth of a small church, these three ministries, as well as a small groups ministry, will be the focus of the church for the next year.  Getting Ready for Company shall be the rally cry!  Nothing will be done without asking the question, "How would a new person view what we are saying or doing?"


Respectfully Submitted,

Rev. Paul James
Rev. Dick Osborne

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Winter Fun

 A week ago today, 45 of our pastors, spouses, children, grandchildren and staff members spent half a day together tubing.  A good time was had by all!  This ENYNE Winter Party took the place of the zone Christmas parties.  Many pastors had indicated that December was such a hectic month that they would rather do something different, and so we decided to have the winter party.  There wasn’t much snow around the area, but the ski center had made snow and it was perfect.  The time flew by quickly, as we visited, ate, and went tubing. 

Here is what a couple of people said in emails to me this week that seems to reflect the great mood I sensed that day…

Feeling old, worn out with a sore back, what would you do?  Go tubing with a bunch of pastors and their families?  Most would say NO WAY!  But that is just what I did today.  What a surprising time of fun and fellowship.  John and I would not have thought of tubing as an activity to do together.  Now we will definitely look forward to doing it again. 
Pastor Paul and Susan, thank you for organizing this fun day.  Who would have thought that going down a hill on a tube would be a good cure for a sore back.  John and I are glad that we were able to attend today’s activity.
Diane Gillette

Pastor Paul,
I wanted to thank you for thinking outside the box for what used to be our Christmas gathering. The snow tubing and pizza day was excellent for many reasons. First, it was not in December when a pastor's family schedule is beyond booked! It was also a much more informal and relaxed time than our standard Christmas parties. Snow tubing together gave us opportunities to play and get to know one another better and each others families.
This different type of event went a long way in deepening relationships and building our team.
Thanks again for providing a great day and great memories.
Paul, Pam and "the Kids", and don't forget Jake!

Thanks to all of you who were able to come.  And hopefully, next year, our tribe will increase (and maybe we’ll have a real winter to celebrate)!

Andrew Fetter created a Vimeo video of some of the fun.  View it by clicking here...