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Friday, December 14, 2012

A Miracle in Vancouver (WA)

It's exciting to hear that the transformation/consultation process (known as 'DTP' in our district) is spreading across the country.  One such consultation recently took place in Vancouver, WA.  I thought you would be interested to see what the DS wrote about it...


In June Dr. Paul Borden led a consultation with the Vancouver Wesleyan Church (WA).  This was the first consultation on our District (Northwest).

As a result of two previous immoral incidents that were broadcast by the media from the church property, the reputation of the church was damaged in the community.  The church had also been plateaued for nearly a decade.

Dr. Borden's prescription was to close the church and begin something new.  The new would have to meet downstairs in the Fellowship Hall on Saturday night so there would be no activities on the property on Sundays.   The name of the church was taken off the front wall.  The street sign was shut down and neutralized.  The appearance to the community was the church had closed.

Another part of the prescription was to identify a Church Planter who would come to Vancouver area and start a new church.  Once the new work had grown to a larger size than the Saturday crowd we could work towards combining our existing congregation into the newer church.  It would give us a new name and new reputation in the community.

This was a difficult prescription for some and set the district churches on notice that this could happen to them too.  It was a risky step of faith but the Vancouver congregation voted to accept the prescription.

Our new Saturday service started on August 11.  The people were not enthused but compliant to the prescription.  We lost around 30 people who could not attend a church meeting on Saturday.   We went from a church of 70 to 40 overnight.

September 6 I received a phone call that led to a significant decision.  Pastor David Robinson, at the request of some people in his congregation, called to discuss the situation in the church.  I shared the story and the prescription.  He said, “We want to be the next Wesleyan Church in Vancouver.” 

We talked and set up another time to meet and walk through the property.  He had started his church 3 years previously and was running 100+ in attendance.   He had been raised in the Friends Church and was trained at George Fox College and Seminary, an approved seminary in our theology.  His independent church was willing to give up their independence to become a Wesleyan Church and include our people into their ministry.  This fit the prescription perfectly.

Dr. Borden met David and gave a “thumbs up” to the idea and included him in our cluster meetings.  The DBA gave its consent.  I led a membership class for 65 people in attendance.  This was my largest class to date.  We dated for two months with a service in October and a Thanksgiving service with dinner in November.

Sunday, December 2, Dr. Jim Dunn, Director for Church Multiplication and Discipleshi,p flew out to join the celebration of bringing Living Word Fellowship into the Wesleyan Church and to lead the reception of new members in their Covenant Membership Commitments.  170 people attended the first official service of the combined congregations. 

Our new church, Living Word Fellowship, has brought hope to our people and the District.  We now have a vibrant, flourishing congregation in the Vancouver community.

Dr. Borden’s prescription to close, as tough as it was, allowed us to become what we are today because of the miracle we experienced.

Dr. Karl Westfall
District Superintendent

Monday, December 10, 2012

Bakers Mills DTP Consultation

This past weekend, three other pastors and I facilitated a consultation weekend at Bakers Mills Wesleyan Church.  This church, which was founded in 1881, has had multiple life cycles, but for the past 20 years has been on a plateau in their growth.  The community has changed over the years as young people have left for jobs and the Adirondack families have gotten smaller.  However we found a resolute band of believers eager to reach the township of Johnsburg for Christ. 

The Saturday training session was very exciting and on Sunday, close to 60 people gathered in the worship center to hear the prescription that follows.  This morning I heard from pastor Chris that there had been nothing but positive response and that the people were eager to see what God has in store for them.  So following are the strengths, concerns and prescription for the 18th church to go through this process. 

As I write that, it seems impossible.  Eighteen of our churches over the last two years have experienced consultations/interventions that have refocused and recaliberated them to be community-impacting, life-changing churches.  We have two other consultations scheduled for late winter.  Then we will wait to see if God opens the doors in other district churches to go through this process. 

By the way,  our church in Hague, now known as Lakeside Regional Church moved their service to Ticonderoga yesterday.  They met in a motel ballroom—216 strong.  This was a record attendance for this church.  Pastor Skip reported that 31 individuals had filled out cards indicating interest in receiving Christ as personal Saviour.  The whole move to reach Hague, Ticonderoga, and points north is a direct result of the prescription they received closed to 18 months ago.  

Yesterday the Forest Dale Wesleyan Church in VT dedicated their facility upgrades.  Pastor John McDonald reports that approximately $80,000 worth of work was done with the cost to the church being only $60,000.  A nice children area, a pastors office, an enlarged parking lot, a restroom on the main floor of the church and an enhanced nursery are a few of the things that were accomplished.  Sixty people were present for the dedication.  We salute pastor John and his people who have joyfully and courageously stepped up in an effort to reach their community for Christ.

Now here is the report for Bakers Mills.  Enjoy.

DECEMBER 7-9, 2012


1.     Pastor and Spouse -  Pastor Chris Taylor and his wife Lisa have been embraced by this congregation since their arrival one year ago.  Many spoke of the spiritual progress and growth they have experienced under Pastor Chris' ministry.  His teaching is greatly appreciated and his impact on the community is noticeable.  Lisa is developing the growing children's ministry and is building a team to assist her.  Her volunteer work at the school is also building bridges into the community.

2.     New People - Over the last few months there has been an influx of new people checking out BMWC.  Some of them are staying.  The enthusiasm, energy and ideas that they are bringing are exciting.  This younger cadre of attendees can only add positive momentum to the ministry of making more disciples for Jesus Christ and impacting the township of Johnsburg.

3.     Children's Ministry -  A year ago only a handful of children attended BMWC.  Today there can be up to eighteen boys and girls in children's church.  Other weekday ministries are in the planning stage.  As the number of children continues to grow more and more young families will be exposed to the message of Jesus Christ.

4.     Bridge Events - During the past year the congregation has been amazed to see large crowds attend the Easter Extravaganza and the Back Yard Bash.  The success of these events brings hope that BMWC, although off the beaten path, will be able to generate a steady flow of guests that will feed the growth of the church. 

5.     Faithful Core Group - Although the church has been on a plateau for the past twenty years, a steady core group has kept the doors open and bathed the ministry in prayer expecting that God would hear and bless.  Is it possible that the sense of the Holy Spirit we are experiencing is the forerunner of a spiritual revival in this area?


1.     Vision/Mission - Although the vision process is underway the entire congregation must understand and embrace reaching the seven hamlets for Christ.  Touching people with the love of Christ and leading people to a relationship with Christ must be the work of this congregation.

2.     Facilities - The buildings are old and tired.  Although the old timers have become accustomed to the building and grounds as they are, new comers and those who view the facilities through fresh eyes immediately see maintenance and decor issues that need to be addressed.

3.      Ministries - The newly launched children's ministry, though effective, will soon outgrow its area.  As this ministry continues to expand it must be leveraged to reach young families in the target area. Also, the grow groups are in need of leaders who have been trained to start small groups of all kinds (Bible study, prayer, service and affinity) in hamlets all over the township.

4.     Assimilation - Although progress has been made in greeting and member care, more attention needs to be given to follow up and retention of guests.

5.     Structure/Leadership Development - In order to reach more souls for Christ the structure of the church must be modified.  In addition, the pastor must see leadership development and deployment as a priority.


1.     Vision/ Mission - The pastor will lead the congregation in a day of solemn assembly.  The congregation will seek God's forgiveness for not being intentional in its efforts to reach their community for Christ.  The congregation will acknowledge the tendency for inward-focused and self-centered approach to "church."  Following this service prayer drives throughout the seven hamlets region will be conducted for the purpose of opening the eyes of the church to see the needs of the area.  This service will take place by Jan. 20, 2013.   

     The two vision numbers that the leaders have proposed will be adopted by the entire congregation and strategic plans will be made to reach them.  The pastor will appoint a launch team that will be trained and empowered to plan monthly services in North Creek.  Beginning in September 2013 the church will move their services to rented facilities in North Creek (one Sunday a month for six months)  This experiment will allow the leaders to ascertain the viability of reaching the region from this more populated base.   

      A name change to reflect the broader regional target will be made.  In an effort to get to know leaders in education, safety, government, etc., Pastor Chris will collect the names of community leaders and schedule fact finding meetings with them.  He will now consider himself the pastor of the region and not just of BMWC.  These meetings will be ongoing and never ending!  During 2013 the pastor will lead the church in four bridge-building events.  "Next date" follow up plans will be in place before the bridge events take place.

2.     Facilities - The rusted front doors will be replaced by March 1, 2013.  Outdoor lighting will also be installed by then.  As you enter the church the closet to the right will be removed giving unhindered access to the "Adirondack Room”.  This space was formerly the fellowship hall/adult Sunday School room.  This room will be remodeled with new ceiling and recessed lights, wainscoting and hardwood floors, fireplace and Adirondack furniture.  It is anticipated that this room will be used as a foyer on Sunday morning where folk mix and mingle before church and between services.  It will also serve as an Internet Cafe during the week where children can come to do homework and have access to Wi-Fi and where adults can gather for fellowship.  The current nursery will be outfitted as the kitchen, enabling the hospitality team to serve cafe style into the new lovely Adirondack Room, as well as to serve into the worship center for banquets and holiday meals.  Bathrooms will be upgraded with modern colors and flooring.  The current kitchen will become the entrance into the new children's center. 

Located in a modular that will be located behind the Sunday School wing, this center will house a state of the art nursery and spacious open Children's Church areas.  Attention will be given to details that will enhance the children's learning experience—big-screen TV, child-sized furniture, learning centers and craft area.  Doors will open to the pavilion and play area. One cannot add too many light fixtures to these areas.  Understanding the magnitude of these tasks, the team will urge the congregation to immediately and aggressively raise funds for these projects.  If the projects become stalled, the leadership should consider a short-term loan since ongoing projects hanging over the congregation's head will be de-motivating.  Mid summer is the target time for completion.  

A parsonage-enhancement team will be appointed by January 15, 2013.  They will regularly contact the parsonage family to determine if repairs or upgrades to the parsonage are needed.  (The church is not the only old building on the property!)  On the day that this report is adopted, if it is adopted, the district vision fund will cut a check for $1,000.00 to be used by the pastor's spouse for kitchen upgrades.

3.     Ministries -  Once the new space is available, a room for babies and young mothers must be made available.  Rocking chairs, changing tables, video feed from the worship center etc. will tell all that babies are important.  If no babies attend, the nursery attendant will spend the worship hour praying that God will send babies to bless this ministry. 

By September 15, 2013, a midweek children's club will be launched.  This may be a release time or a kids’ club, but it must focus on reaching young families for Christ.  Two bridge events in 2013 will be sponsored by this ministry with next date events to follow.   Each person in the church will prayerfully consider ministering in this area. 

By January 1, 2014 there will be at least one grow group in each of the seven hamlets.  This means that additional leaders and homes will need to be found.  Some of these group leaders are not yet in the congregation;  however, even as you read this, God is at work preparing their hearts and planting a desire within them to be a part of the vision of BMWC.

4.     Assimilation - Additional members of the assimilation team will be appointed by February 15, 2013.  This team will visit Hadley-Luzerne Wesleyan or Fusion Community on a Sunday to interact with and observe an assimilation team in action.  They will obtain and implement to the best of their ability the Nelson Searcy assimilation system.  This system includes tracking first- and second-time guests as well as the retention rate for both.  The team will aid the pastor in beginning a "Starting Point Cafe", an event designed to aid newcomers in getting involved.

5.     Structure/Leadership Development - The team heard the cry for more individuals to be committed and to get involved.  To facilitate this, the pastor will begin a leadership development coaching network by Feb. 1, 2013.   The District Superintendent will facilitate the first two coaching events. This will include members of the North Creek Launch Team, members of the Staff Ministry Team and other potential leaders selected by the pastor.  This coaching time will be a priority for those selected.  If this opportunity is treated lightly the slot will be given to someone more interested.  The ministry team or staff is made up of directors of different ministries appointed by the pastor.  This team meets monthly for accountability, planning and brainstorming.  These individuals are given responsibility and authority for their ministries.  They are also held accountable for their area. 

The LBA will be comprised of four members plus the pastor.  Policies, Procedures and Budgets are their focus.  In addition, they will hold the pastor accountable in finances, morality, human resources, theology and legal issues.  If the pastor gets out of bounds in any of these areas it is their responsibility to throw a flag and deal with the issue. 

A coach for the pastor is recommended by the district and provided by the church.  This will aid the pastor as he leads in implementing the changes called for in these prescriptions.  It is expected that the pastor will lead the congregational leaders in raising funds for the items called for in this report.  It is further expected that if adopted, each family in the congregation will prayerfully consider a generous gift in addition to their tithes and offerings to help make this vision a reality.


Submitted by:

Rev. Paul James
Rev. Andrew Fetter
Rev. Paul Barna
Rev. Rusty Bissell