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Monday, November 26, 2012

Trunk & Treat 2012 - Pt. 2

More reports have come in since the last blog about special fall events that I thought you'd enjoy hearing about so I have posted them below along with some photos.

Niskayuna had a successful Fall Outreach beginning with a Pumpkin Patch two weeks prior to their Trunk or Treat event.  Both events contributed to their being the focal point of their neighborhood.  The Synagogue near them is known for their Carrot Festival and the Reformed Church down the road is famous for its Strawberry Festival, and now the Wesleyan Church is becoming known for their Pumpkin Sale.  They sold pumpkins, had a safety day with police and firemen, decorated and painted pumpkins and had a drawing for a free Target gift card.

Trunk or Treat was successful in that they created a gathering place for adults while their kids visited the cars in their parking lot and homes on the street next to the church.  They served coffee, donuts, hot chocolate and fresh popcorn.  In the end, they had several opportunities to talk about the church and have had follow-up contacts indicating that several families are considering coming to a church service.

Niskayuna WC Trunk or Treat

Niskayuna WC Trunk or Treat

Niskayuna WC Trunk or Treat

Niskayuna WC Trunk or Treat

CrossPointe reports that they had an awesome Halloween Outreach.  They fed 1000 people and handed out gallons of coffee, cocoa and iced tea.  They also gave out about 750 invitations to their Sunday Children's Worship.  Their plan was then to give away a Nintendo 3DS (handheld game console) to a child that returned on Sunday.  It turned out that a family of seven came on Sunday, with two children Children's Worship class age, and that led to someone donating an additional $200 to purchase another Nintendo 3DS so both children could have one. 

The best part was that the mother accepted Jesus that Sunday.  The family returned to the church's Fall Harvest Dinner and has been back every Sunday since.  Last week the mom made the statement, "You're stuck with us now."  As you might imagine, everyone in the church is rejoicing over this huge 'win'.

CrossPointe Trunk or Treat

CrossPointe Trunk or Treat

CrossPointe Trunk or Treat

CrossPointe Trunk or Treat
Long Lake WC held an event right on the evening of October 31.  Just about every child in Long Lake planned to be at the church when they were cold and out of houses to hit up for candy.  Over a hundred parents and children walked through their doors and parking lot.

Inside the basement of the church were kids playing games and participating in the cakewalk.  Outside there were teens and parents talking for hours, comparing stories of walking the neighborhoods.

On top of all that, many stayed for an 'after' party, where 30+ kids participated in the town past time of 'Manhunt'.  Several mentioned that it was the largest turnout ever, and the non-church-going Long Lake activities director stood with Pastor John Gocke for quite awhile at the basement entrance and shared how ecstatic she was at the turnout of the community and her own kids playing so long at church.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Trunk & Treat 2012

Many of our churches use the Fall Festival/Trunk or Treat Event as a way to increase visitor flow to their campuses.  Here are a few of the reports and photos that have come in.  It's truly exciting to watch the churches be proactive in reaching out to their communities.

Colton - Gave out candy, hot dogs, and hot chocolate and had a fire truck visit, a fire in the pit, a bicycle give-away and a baby goat.  It was very successful.  They prepared for 125 and ran out of candy.  Names used for the bike raffle will be used to contact the families to invite them to Sunday School, church and Vacation Bible School.

West Chazy -Held a Fall Fun Fest.

Vantage Pointe - Held their very first Trunk or Treat event this year at a local venue, to which 800 people came.  Now comes the work of following up and the hope that many of them will become assimilated into the church life of VPC!  They charged $1/person admission that was donated to benefit WARM THE CHILDREN, a regional drive that provides new winter clothing for the children of needy families.

Lakeside Regional (formerly Hague) - Underestimated the outreach of their event by half.  They hosted the event on their new Ticonderoga campus, handing out 500 bags of candy and an invitation to a December event (1000 kids came).

Turnpike - Hosted a Trunk-n-Treat event and had around 170 come by.  They had activities and refreshments, but the main attraction were the hayrides.

Shokan - Had a Trunk or Treat for the first time this year and approximately 70 people came.

Cadyville - Had over 150 in attendance at their fall event.

Hadley-Luzerne - Hosted their very first Trunk or Treat outreach right on their church property.  They had 17 vehicles with trunks open participate.  They think they reached about 120 kids and their parents, and many of the children were not already connected there.  They creatively got names and addresses by handing out a card that served as a voting ballot for voting for their favorite trunk.  They already have ideas for how to make it even better for next year.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Malone - One Year Later

At our fall DBA Retreat, I invited the pastors who had completed DTP consultations to come and share with the Board and other pastors yet to experience a consultation.  The following is an example of one church's progress and where they are one year following their consultation.  You'll especially enjoy seeing the photos at the end of the article depicting some of the physical work they have accomplished on their facility.  The church--First Wesleyan Church of Malone.  The pastor--Rev. Marc Watkins.

Note:  Pastor Marc's remarks are in italicized red, and the aspects of the DTP Rx Report are featured in black.


On November 13, 2011, we met as a congregation for a service dedicated to prayer and confession. This probably was one of the most important steps that we took as a church. Emphasis was given to seeking forgiveness for our past failures as a church and asking God to break our hearts over the lost in our community. At the end of the service we opened it up for people to bring names of those then they wanted to see experience a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We had people come forward and place those names on a cross. That cross has remained on our platform to remind us to pray often for the requests that are posted there.

One thing we have included in our Sunday worship service is have a “GAP” moment interceding for the needs of our community. This emphasis comes out of the prescription to pray for our community every week. (GAP moment comes Ezekiel 22:30)

In our service on November 13th we established a goal to see 500 people come to Christ in the next five years; which includes touching in some way 11,500 lives with the gospel in the course of the five years. That amounts to 100 people coming to Christ every year, and 2,300 lives will be touched over all. We don’t deny that this is a challenge but our hearts have followed our vision and with the help of the Lord we will apply ourselves.

Over the past year we have seen 45 people come to Christ and about 1600 lives touched. We believe that we’re well on our way to achieving this goal.

  • The pastor will call the congregation to a day of prayer for God to provide a vision for the future. This day of prayer will occur on a Sunday morning during a worship service. Time will be given to ask God to break the heart of the congregation collectively and individually for the needs of those who are not yet disciples of Jesus Christ to become His followers. Prayers will be offered for those who comprise different segments of the community e.g. teachers, first response personnel, those who work in the prisons, etc.
  • Also, the people will pray that God will open their hearts to a compelling vision for the future. Following the worship service leaders will invite the congregation to join them in a prayer drive throughout the community.
  • This day will occur by October 30, 2011. Following this day the pastor will initiate two weekly prayer events to pray for the community, the vision and the salvation of those apart from God. These prayer groups will begin the first week of November. The pastor, in consultation with his coach and DS will develop a vision statement for the congregation. This statement will be in place by December 31, 2011. 

Regarding our worship services we are experiencing some tension which seems to be the case in so many churches as they move from one generation to another. As prescribed in our prescription I have taken every effort to create an environment of ancient/future worship. My effort is frustrated due to the fact that musicians are somewhat difficult to come by. With that being said, we continue to make efforts every week to improve the performance of those who are working in music while I continue to look for other musicians. It has been a priority to include variety in our worship services as much as I can. Every week I strive to make the service clearly missional so that any guest in attendance can grasp our intentions of creating an atmosphere of worship. We are not where we want to be in every respect of our worship services but we are giving it everything we have to reach our goals in this respect.

The pastor will take on as one of his primary responsibilities the planning and execution of the Sunday morning worship service. He will function as both the producer (determining who participates) and the director (determining how worship will be carried out). Each worship service will be creatively planned in that there will be different formats (including the seating and lighting in the auditorium), often asking those in the congregation to participate in using their various senses as part of the worship experience. Various styles and kinds of music will be used on different Sundays. These services will be designed to help those who do not normally attend church feel safe and unthreatened in the worship environment.

The services will be missional in that people will be provided constant information as to what is occurring and what is expected, while helping them cross minimal cultural barriers to have a deep experience with God. This new style of worship service will begin the first Sunday in January 2012.

Developing Status:

The developing status of Malone Wesleyan church has been controversial as you well know. With that being said I believe we are making strides to become an established church. Over the summer our average attendances were as follows:
May - 76
June – 73
July – 68
August – 67
The attendances are about 20+ over last year. I believe that in the next few months we should achieve our goal of the averaging 75 two months in a row. At the present time our offerings continue to be strong averaging over the $6000 a month. This in itself has been a great blessing.
One area that remains a weakness is developing our structure around the Kaiser book “Winning on Purpose”. Plans are in the works now to begin working more diligently on this this matter this month.

The District Superintendent will recommend to the District Board to return the congregation to the status of an established congregation when certain milestones are reached. These milestones will indicate that the congregation is ready to take its rightful stance as a full fledged established Wesleyan Congregation. This will occur when the congregation’s giving averages $6000 a month for four months in a row and at the same time the worship attendance averages 75 people two months in a row. The DS in consultation with the pastor feel that these milestones are easily doable within the next nine months and will demonstrate the congregation’s commitment to be a healthy one fulfilling our Lord’s command to make disciples. These milestones will also evidence that the leaders are committed to having a congregation that is viable and open to the pastor’s leadership. The leaders will also create an annual budget by the beginning of the next fiscal year. Also when the congregation goes back to its established status it will be organized on the Accountability Leadership Model proposed by John Kaiser in his book Winning on Purpose.

Staff Members:

One of the most exciting steps of faith our church took during the DTP, was to add the staff position of children’s pastor. Last November, the church officially hired my wife, Becky as the director of children’s ministry. The result of this has been outstanding. The Wednesday night children’s Kids Club has gone from an average attendance of 20 to 25, to over 50. There is no doubt that God is blessing our church in taking this step of faith. Becky continues to work faithfully to grow every aspect of our children’s ministry.

Our VBS this summer was outstanding, with a total of 60 children attending throughout the week. One of the most exciting things that happened, 15 new children gave their hearts to Christ for the very first time. Also as a result of our children’s ministry, we have picked up numerous families who now attend faithfully every Sunday. I feel greatly blessed to have Becky for a wife and to be able to add her skills and spiritual gifts with children to the work of the church.

I am very happy that as of August of this year, Sharlene Jock has come on staff as the Administrative Assistant to the Pastor. Sharlene has been a wonderful blessing in more ways than one, but especially is she helpful in helping our church to assimilate our goals and objectives which we have established. Her sense of professionalism adds to the work as well as the atmosphere in our church office.

  • The pastor will assume the primary role of planning and implementing creative worship services beginning January 1, 2012. The congregation will hire Becky Watkins as the Children’s pastor for $1000 a month beginning November 1, 2011. She will also continue to serve in her janitorial role until funds are available to hire her replacement in order to let her focus entirely on children. The pastor will require a volunteer to help him with the administrative side of the assimilation process. This key volunteer position needs to be filled by January 1, 2012.


Regarding the matter of upkeep and improvements of our facility, the people have tirelessly jumped in to make much needed renovations putting us in better condition to meet and minister to our community. With the loan of $10,000 from the district we have been able to date to complete several tasks on our list. Instead of trying to explain to you every item. Below is a list for your preview:

  • The entire church has been painted upstairs and downstairs
  • The restrooms have been completely painted and freshened to meet the standards of our guests. Although they are not what we want, at this point they will do until we can completely renovate them top to bottom.
  • The downstairs has been converted to our Kids Zone. Commercial grade carpet has been laid throughout the entire basement to give it a very friendly look. Everything downstairs has been completely painted, lights have been added, murals on the wall have been painted, and live size children stickers have been placed throughout the Kids Zone.
  • Our sign out front has been rebuilt inside and painted.
  • We cleaned out years and years of junk (taking five truckloads to the dump).
  • We have completely striped our car parking lot.
  • We purchased a new Computer System for our worship center that is state of the art (we have a gentleman in our church, Jourdan Hazen who built a Computer System with everything that we needed).
  • Cleaned out the old library and made a new nursery for our children.
As of the middle of August, we completed the purchase of the house and lot next to the church. This past week we gutted the inside of the house and are presently painting it and updating it, so we can rent it out by the first week in October.

There are additional things that we need to complete, like new lighting in the worship center and flat screens on the walls in front to replace the digital projector and screen. We will also have to wait for a few months before we can convert the old nursery upstairs in two a unisex bathroom.

Overall I believe that God is continuing to help us to move forward to impact of our community for him.

  • The entire inside of the building upstairs and downstairs needs to be painted to provide a new fresh look. The upstairs needs to be lightened up and the downstairs needs to be painted to appeal to children. Once the painting is completed the District will send the congregation a gift of $1000 to be put towards the carpeting of the downstairs. This work (the painting and the carpeting) needs to be completed by December 31, 2011.
  • As the congregation looks to the near future and the possible purchase of near-by real estate, they need to consider how finances will be sought that will also allow them to update the rest rooms that are downstairs and build a restroom on the upstairs level. The upstairs restroom needs to be built as soon as it is financially possible. This will require the relocation of the nursery to a clean updated space.
In a closing thought, I would like to tell you one of our stories that happened this past spring. In May we had our closing program for Kids Club. That morning in the audience was a gentleman by the name of John. He was invited to attend the program by a friend of his named Marie. I could tell during the service that John was listening intently to every word and every song that we shared. At the close of the program I shared a story of Jesus and what it meant to have a personal relationship with Him. 

At the close of my story I invited those that wanted to take that step to pray that prayer with me and receive Him. As I asked for hands to be raised, one of those hands was John. After the service John approached me and wanted me to pray for him, because he was battling throat cancer for the third time. 

I invited John and Marie to come into my office so I could pray with them. During our discussion, John confirmed that he made a decision to follow Christ that morning. Over the next 60 days John and I became good friends. I was able to text him often and let it know that was praying for him. Just 60 days later, John passed away of this cancer. I was reminded that you can never underestimate what God will use to reach anybody. As a result of our children’s ministry, John is in heaven today celebrating for eternity with our Savior Jesus Christ

Committed to Serving,

Malone - Children's Worship Center

Malone - Children's Worship Center

Malone - Children's Worship Center
Malone - Kids Club Program

Monday, November 5, 2012

DTP Consultation at Shokan

The DTP team and I just completed a good consultation at Shokan Wesleyan Community Church.  It was great weekend and there was a great spirit.  This time the team consisted of Rev. Paul Barna, Rev. Dean Brown and me. Below, you will find the full report.

Shokan Wesleyan Community Church Consultation
November 2-4, 2012


1. Worship: Most of those we spoke to remarked that the worship was excellent and carried them into the presence of God. Others repeatedly referenced the sense of the Holy Spirit that hovered over the congregation. It is evident that in this church God is the audience of one, the worship team is the prompter and the congregation the performer.

2. Prayer: The focus on prayer, both corporate and individual, gives this congregation a firm foundation to stand upon as they increase their efforts to assault the gates of hell and depopulate Satan's zip code. Focusing on the God of miracles is more important than focusing on problems and circumstances.

3. Pastor and Spouse: The congregation wholeheartedly believes that God brought Pastor Andy and Doreen to their church for such a time as this. Worship, music, prayer, timely messages and the anointing of God are frequently mentioned in connection with this pastoral team.

4. Friendly Family Atmosphere: Many spoke of the welcome that they received at SWCC. Both smiles and tears were present as stories were told of what this congregation means to both old timers and newcomers.

5. Outreach: Many, although not all, have adopted the mission of reaching the community for Christ. It is evident that the congregation is shifting from a "it is all about us" mentality. Most are eager to embrace the next challenge in caring for the spiritually hungry who are all about them. Some told us that they expect this weekend to clearly define the next steps of the church.

1. Building/Space/Finances: It is evident that the building must undergo some maintenance and upgrades if the congregation is to continue to grow. Many of these items have been discussed for years.

2. Administrative Assistant/Assimilation: The pastor must be freed up to concentrate on the areas where he is most gifted. Involving others with the gift of administration will greatly add to the effectiveness of the ministry.

3. Children: Since children's ministry is one of the driving forces of today's effective churches, more workers, money and dedicated space must be made available to this team.

4. Leadership Development/Small Groups: People are inspired and challenged in worship. However, life change takes place best in small groups. Therefore, emphasis must be placed on developing leaders who are able to lead effective small groups. This dramatically increases places to serve and places to grow.

5. Structure/Ministry Team: The ministry team, otherwise known as staff, must take responsibility for managing the programs and ministries of the church. Half-hearted effort is not acceptable in the greatest endeavor on the planet.


1. Building/Space/Finances: 200 padded interlocking chairs will be ordered for the worship center. They will be in place by Christmas Eve, 2012. The balcony will be removed adding a sense of space, as well as seating, for 60 more parishioners. This will be completed by Feb.1, 2013. In addition, the ramp at the entrance of the church will be replaced with a large deck or porch. A proper handicap ramp will extend from the porch.

In the spring of 2013, insulation and vinyl siding will be installed. This is a maintenance issue that is long overdue. An all church work day will be held by December 15th to cut the trees near the main road to increase visibility. Also, wiring for the kitchen will be updated. The completion of these tasks will greatly add to the beauty of the property and will give the congregation a great sense of accomplishment. The upstairs bathrooms will receive a simple facelift. All of these issues will be completed by May 1, 2013.

These updates should aid in the church growth for the immediate future. By the time the enlarged church is 80% full enough critical mass will be in place to enable the congregation to hold two energetic, spirit anointed services. During the months when weather permits, a tent will be placed near the new deck as a setting for food and fellowship. The pastor will lead the church in investigating the viability of a name change to one that better reflects the mission and vision of the church. Attention to visible and attractive signage both inside and out will be addressed. The website address will be prominently featured as a part of the new branding.

Immediately upon the acceptance of this report the congregation should begin raising funds to complete these initial projects. The team believes that $60,000.00 will make these dreams possible. Whatever the cost the congregation must aggressively meet this challenge. If the money is not raised then it must be borrowed so that these upgrades can be completed in a timely fashion.

In the spring the congregation shall engage the services of an architect to design a large entrance way that will serve as the center point of the church. A kitchen/cafe that can serve both the worship center and the entrance way and large bright restrooms will greatly enhance the SWCC experience. Underneath the foyer or entrance way will be a large open space to be used for future expansion. Once the design is approved, a colored drawing will be commissioned and hung on the wall for all to see and pray over.

In addition, a capital stewardship coach will be engaged to lead the church through a three year faith promise adventure. Decisions will be made along the way as to the feasibility of the actual construction date. This coach will be in place by September 1, 2013.

2. Administrative Assistant/Assimilation: By Easter 2013 a part time administrative assistant to aid the pastor with clerical and assimilation tasks will be hired. A stipend will make sure that this position is taken seriously and make accountability possible. In addition, this person will assist the pastor in making sure that guests are tracked, involved in a newcomer's fellowship and attached to a small group where they have friends and ministry.

With the addition of an admin person, the pastor must see his role evolve from being the chaplain of the congregation to the following:

* Preaching and calling the congregation to address spiritual issues
* Producing and directing worship (which he now does effectively)
* Developing leaders, empowering leaders and holding leaders accountable
* Representing the congregation to the various communities that the congregation serves
* Overseeing bridge events and assimilation/follow-up

During the next year, the pastor shall lead the congregation in four bridge events designed to increase visitor flow. The admin person shall track follow-up and the retention rate.

3. Children: The basement will be painted and decorated to make it attractive to children. The children's team will visit other churches to see how effective children's ministry is contributing to the growth and health of the church. Rooms and closets in the basement area must be de-cluttered. Every congregant must ask themselves if God is calling them to work in this crucial ministry. The leaders of this team will be sent to a national children's conference yearly to learn new methods and view new materials. By March 1, 2013 this expanded ministry will hold an open house! Easter will see thirty five in children's church.

4. Leadership Development/Small Groups: The pastor will select six to eight potential ministry leaders and spend time training them to be leaders of small groups. As the church grows people must have choices of places to get involved. Prayer groups, study groups and affinity groups led by individuals who have bought into the vision of the church to make disciples and have been trained by the pastor will greatly add to the church health. Those who have their own agendas must understand that agenda harmony is paramount to reaching the community for Christ. By April 15, 2013, this training will be underway and ongoing. Everything does rise and fall on leadership!

5. Structure/Ministry Team: The church will operate with a ministry leadership team that meets twice a month for training, planning and accountability. It will be made up of ministry leaders such as children, assimilation, worship, nursery, youth, audio visual, etc. Those placed in these positions must understand the commitment necessary to build an effective disciple making church. Responsibilities and authority will be given to these team members and accountability will be required.

The church will provide a coach for the pastor for the next year to help facilitate changes in leadership style that will enable the church to reach and disciple an ongoing stream of souls.

Once this report is adopted a day of vision and prayer will be set to kick off this new initiative. People will be encouraged to take prayer walks and drives throughout the target area. It cannot be emphasized enough that we are doing all of these things in the prescription to reach the lost for Christ. We are focusing on those outside the walls of the church. It is not about us. Whenever conflict arises regarding taking care of those already in the church or those who are outside the church, those who are still unbelievers will get the attention and energy.

The pastor will lead the LBA and finance committee in developing a financial plan that will fund the measures called for in this report. It is expected that each church family will prayerfully consider stepping up their weekly giving to help reach this needy area for Christ.


Respectfully submitted,

Rev. W. Paul James
Rev. Dean Brown
Rev. Paul Barna

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Ministerial Retreat 2012

Fifty pastors/district personnel and most of our spouses met at Camp of the Woods in Speculator, NY on October 8 - 10 for our annual Ministerial Retreat.  This was a time of leadership development, team-building, relationship-building, inspiration, and relaxation.  Our speakers were Drs. Gary McIntosh and Gordon Penfold.  We had great worship experiences led by Andrew Fetter and his team and a meaningful concert of prayer led by Andy McCutcheon and his team.  During our free time we played basketball, game table games, putt-putt, shuffleboard, etc.  Everyone seemed to enjoy their time away.  Applause to all local churches that made it possible for their pastor to attend the retreat. 

Below are some photos of our time together...

Ministerial Retreat 2012

Ministerial Retreat 2012 - Dr. Gary McIntosh

Ministerial Retreat 2012 - Dr. Gary McIntosh

Ministerial Retreat 2012 - Table Talk

Ministerial Retreat 2012 - Table Talk

Ministerial Retreat 2012 - Communion Prep

Ministerial Retreat 2012 - Concert of Prayer

DTP Consultation Update

The district transformation process marches on and great things are happening.  Furnace Brook (formerly North Chittenden) and Brandon Center each had their vote.  Furnace Brook voted 35-2 to accept their consultation prescription report, and Brandon Center voted 24-11 to accept their report.  Both churches are excited to begin the work of meeting the prescription recommendations.

Shokan Wesleyan Community will have its consultation this upcoming weekend and Bakers Mills will have theirs the weekend of December 9.  Continue to keep the process in your prayers, and let's remember that just because we've had 16 consultations that are now in the past, the hard work of coaching for the pastors and the fulfillment of the prescriptions by the local churches goes on, and they need your continued prayers too.