Search This Blog

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Ten Ways I Plan to Stay Inspired in 2016 - Pt. 1

1.  Stay crystal clear about my calling from God.   
As a 17-year-old, I heard the voice of God affirming my call into the ministry.  Now, 47 years later, there is still a certainty in my spirit that I am doing what God called me to do.  Furthermore, I have a peace that I am serving in the place where He wants me.  No doubts and no questions help me stay inspired.

2.  Make sure that I am leveraging the spiritual gifts that God has given me.

Time has proven that God has equipped me to lead, usually in places that need to be revitalized.  He also has gifted me as a motivational speaker and as an evangelist.  Regularly using these gifts helps me stay inspired.
3     3.  Make sure that the players on my team are inspiring people.

        I look for teammates who bring a positive emotional jolt every time that they walk into a room.    Their energy and enthusiasm encourages me.

4.  Make sure I read inspirational books.

Biographies of people who have overcome adversity and persevered are especially helpful.  The most recent biography I read was Rebel Yell.  It tells the story of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson.  Through reading, it was almost as if I were there.

5.  Make it a point to rub shoulders with exceptional, inspirational people.

We have all heard of VIPs--Very Important People
                                      VNPs--Very Nice People
                                       VDPs--Very Draining People
I look for EIPs--Exceptionally Inspiring People.  And I can rub shoulders in person through a CD or DVD or through a book!

To be continued...

Friday, December 18, 2015

What I Want My Grandchildren to Know About Christmas

I want my grandchildren to know that 2,000 years ago Jesus, God's Son, came to earth.

Colossians 1:15-16 (ESV) And He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the first born of all creation.  For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities.  All things have been created by Him and for Him.

I want my grandchildren to know that Jesus was more than a man; He was more than a good teacher, He was, in fact, God in the flesh.

I want my grandchildren to know that Christmas is a big deal; that it is the celebration of the birthday of Jesus Christ.  In a world where political correctness and assaults on Christianity are trying to drown out the Christmas story, the truth remains.  Jesus is a historical person and all of history is divided by the coming of Christ--B.C. - Before Christ, A. D. - 'After Death' (Anno Domini 'the year of our Lord').

I want my grandchildren to know that the gifts we give are symbols of the gifts the wisemen brought--gold, frankincense and myrrh--and that the ultimate gift is giving ourselves to Christ.

I want my grandchildren to know that the lights that shine everywhere at Christmas are symbols that remind us that Jesus is the light of the world.

I want my grandchildren to know that God took on the form of man.

He became one of us!
He came as a baby, born into the home of peasants.
He came to seek and save lost and hurting mankind.
He came to live among us and to develop a relationship with us.
He came to model how to love and how to live!

I want my grandchildren to know that God knows all about them.
He saw them before they were born.
He was there at their conception
And He has seen all that has happened to them.
He has answers to their questions,
and watches over them in the night.
He knows their futures and has a unique purpose and plan for them.

I want my grandchildren to know that God had a communication problem.  Sin had caused a great distance between God and man.  Jesus became one of us so that He could show us the way back to God--to restore our broken relationship.

I want my grandchildren to know that Jesus suffered as we suffer and experienced pain as we experience pain.

And He was lonely
                        under pressure

I want my grandchildren to know that Jesus often sided with the underdog.
And looked after the oppressed.
He cared about their hurts, habits and hang-ups
and He loved the unlovable.

I want my grandchildren to know that He grew just as they are growing--

He was tempted as they are tempted.
He had the same needs, drives, problems and pressures.

And the reason that Jesus did all of this was so that He could relate to boys and girls, men and women.

I want my grandchildren to know that Jesus has answers to the questions...
          Why am I here?
             Where did I come from?
                Is there any purpose in life?
                  Where am I going?

I want my grandchildren to know that they were created to be loved by God and that He wants a personal relationship with them--that He can forgive their sins and remove their guilt.

I want my grandchildren to know that Jesus came to ordinary people--
People of all nations, races, tribes and languages--

That He is not the God of a select few.
He isn't the God of the privileged class.
No, He came to all of us, including the lowly shepherds.

I want my grandchildren to know that Jesus was not born in a palace; He did not aspire to the lifestyle of the rich and famous.  He didn't want to be a billionaire and drive a Cadillac.  He wasn't born in a hospital.  His mother had no epidural.

I want my grandchildren to know that Jesus was born in a stable and then placed in a manger in the middle of dirt, feed, saliva and manure.

I want my grandchildren to know that angels were present on the night that Jesus was born and that the angelic choir sang heavenly songs telling of His birth.

I want my grandchildren to know that shortly after His birth a star hovered over Him and that wisemen--kings from the east--made a long trip to bring Him gifts and to worship Him.

I want my grandchildren to know that from the highest in society to the lowest, all were invited to bow and worship Him.  He wasn't born in a gated community but out in the open so that all could come, bow at His feet, worship Him and have a personal friendship with Him.

I want my grandchildren to understand that there is no greater calling than to find a place to share this message of Jesus with others, to be the hands of Jesus and the feet of Jesus in serving a world spinning madly out of control.

And I want my grandchildren to know that in the next world, a place of no sorrow, no sadness, no sin, no sickness, no problems and no tears--we, as a family, will be able to spend precious time with each other and the thousands of others that the James Gang has influenced for Christ.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Vantage Pointe Consultation Report

                          October 2 - 4, 2015


  • Pastors Dean and Rosalie Brown:  Dean and Rosalie are leading this congregation to continued health as evidenced by the congregation’s commitment to the Great Commission, numerical growth and healthy, blossoming relationships between individuals and groups within the body of believers that constitute Vantage Pointe.
  • An Inviting Church:  Congregations grow as individuals within the congregation continually invite neighbors, friends, relatives and those with whom they work.  Such is happening with regularity. 
  • Commitment to the Community:  The congregation is outward focused and committed to serving the community.   A large portion of resources (people, money, energy, and time) are committed each year on serving those who do not attend the church (yet). 
  • Giving:  While still lagging behind other congregations in giving, this congregation is growing in Jesus’ teaching to give financially to His church and its ministry.  Many of the people are modeling generosity with their finances in obedience to Jesus Christ.
  • Ministry Focus:  As a young congregation, Vantage Point has not tried to do everything other congregations do. Instead, it has prioritized and focused its ministry efforts in doing a few things well.  It conducts excellent worship experiences each Sunday morning, serves babies and children well and focuses on helping new people get connected.  Such focus reflects great wisdom.


  • Connecting to the Body:  While many are becoming new disciples of Jesus Christ, relatively few people are being baptized, connected to the congregation and mobilized for ministry.
  • Communicating the Mission and Vision:  While the mission and vision are clear to some of the leaders, its communication is not mobilizing the majority for effective ministry.
  • The Pastor’s Role:  As the congregation grows, the role of the lead pastor needs to change or he will become an unintentional hindrance to what God wants to do through the congregation.
  • Finances, Staffing and Facilities:  Growth brings with it good problems.  The current problems relate to the use of the facilities and staffing.  Such problems must be addressed now while there is still time or growth will be hindered and eventually stopped.
  • Making Disciples.  There is no clear definition of what a disciple of Jesus looks like in 2015 and no clear path at the church on how to become one.  


  • Connecting to the Body:  The Executive Staff and key persons from the Pointe Team will make several field trips to Fusion Community Church in Cobleskill, N.Y.  The purpose of these trips is to observe and learn the Fusion approach to assimilating people into the life of the church.  In addition, the team will learn how baptisms are conducted and how people are more quickly connected to the congregation through service opportunities and teams.  The pastor will contact Andrew Fetter, Pastor of Fusion, to establish dates and times for these observatory trips. 

Some of the Fusion behaviors and practices are only slightly different when compared to the Vantage Pointe behaviors.  However, these small differences can produce more effective results! Staff member Jeff Leland will be reassigned to become the Director of Assimilation and Small Groups.  By taking this additional key responsibility, Jeff will relinquish the duties of church treasurer.  The Executive Staff will determine the changes required for Vantage Pointe to implement behaviors that will fast track the assimilation process.  Calls to establish the schedule for learning trips will be completed by November 30, 2015 and the entire project, including the appointment of a new treasurer, will be completed by February 28, 2016.

  • Communicating the Mission and the Vision:  The Vantage Pointe congregation is falling into the same rut that multitudes of other congregations are experiencing; namely, a handful of people carry the major part of ministry responsibilities.  Ultimately, the lack of volunteers and the lack of commitment from the congregation is a mission/vision problem.  This lack of clarity and communication also affects the giving.  The problems are first addressed by stating the vision in a brief statement that focuses the congregation on how the mission and vision is going to change the community.                                                                                                               
 The leadership team will select two numbers: the first will represent those individuals who will be touched with the love of Christ; the second will represent the number of gospel presentations being given to individuals who have opportunity to accept Christ.  These numbers will be in place by January 31, 2016. 
The leader will begin to create urgency for the vision.  This will cause people to be dissatisfied with current reality.  As urgency grows, the pastor will help the congregation understand the needs of the community as perceived and communicated by community influencers.

The lead pastor will interview 12 of these influencers by August 1, 2016.  As he hears the stories of need in the community, he will present these stories to the congregation and show how God wants to use the congregation to address these needs.  The pastor will tell these stories by video and other media by January 31, 2016.

  • The Pastor’s Role:  If the lead pastor’s role does not change as the congregation grows, the congregation will stop growing. And, more importantly, the mission and vision will become lost.  The following is a description of the pastor’s major responsibilities:

·      Spiritual Leader:  Preach the Word and Promote Congregational Spirituality
·      Oversee the Mission, Create Urgency and Cast Vision (such requires the pastor to be in the community with community leaders)
·      Lead Staff and Hold them Accountable
·      Ministry Architect
·      Develop Leaders (those who are currently leaders and new leaders)
·      Develop Ministry Resources
·      Meet with Four Kinds of People
·      Unbelievers
·      People New to the Church
·      Leaders and Potential Leaders
·      People within the Community
The above will become the pastor’s job description by January 1, 2016

The lead pastor must create and sustain a culture of leadership development.  His first assignment is to identify and develop a group of three to four adults to lead the youth ministry as volunteers.   These youth workers will be identified by December 15, 2015 and the pastor will meet twice a month during 2016, to train them in leadership and youth ministry skills. 

The leadership development aspect of the pastor’s role is crucial.  The lead pastor will make sure that goals, responsibilities, authority and accountability are a part of all leadership team meetings - no exceptions.  During the Point Team and Executive Staff meetings, leaders will report the stats and stories of the lay leaders they have met with that week or month.  Growth cannot and will not be sustained if leaders are not developed and challenged to develop other leaders serving their respective ministries.

  •       Finances, Staffing and Facilities:  The pastor will challenge the congregation to examine its stewardship in order to adequately fund the mission and vision of Vantage Pointe.  In addition, he shall lead the congregation in a capital stewardship campaign to raise $100,000 for staffing and facilities.

The following staffing adjustments will be made going forward: 

·      Hire a part-time administrative assistant by January 15, 2016
·      Reassign Pastor Jeff Leland to Director of Assimilation and Connection by December 1, 2015.
·      Remunerate the Director of VP Kids for two days a week to enable her to commit more time to her ministry commitments by January 1, 2016.
·      Adjust the job description of the Director of Worship Ministries by December 1, 2015
·      Set aside funds for training lay ministry teams by March 1, 2016

In addition, the congregation will borrow up to $100,000 from WIF to add to the capital campaign funds to upgrade the facilities.  Some, but not all of the upgrades, will be:

o   Remove the balcony, kitchen and storage closet
o   Add a modern kitchen/cafĂ© that serves both the foyer and worship center
o   Expand the current rest rooms
o   Replace flooring throughout the building
o   Add modern accent colors
o   Develop an Adirondack theme throughout the building
o   Expand the VP Kids wing
o   Install a restroom in the VP Kid’s wing
o   Add a portable check-in station for children
o   Add decorative lights to the foyer and worship center
o   Expand and raise the platform
o   Cut trees that hinder visibility
o   Remove the flag pole
o   Landscape the front of the church
o   Add modern banners inside and out
o   Modernize windows
o   Address the ice dam issues

  • Make Disciples:  the leaders will, in the next twelve to eighteen months, establish clear expectations of what a disciple of Jesus Christ is at Vantage Pointe.  Once these criteria are set, the leaders will develop strategies to help people effectively implement these expectations into their daily living experiences.  The leaders will then establish ways to evaluate and track the effectiveness of the strategies.  The entire process will be initiated by September 1, 2016.    


Submitted by:

Dr. Paul D. Borden
Rev. Paul James
Rev. Andrew Fetter

 Rev. Floyd McCallum Jr.