What do those stones mean to you? — An Exploration in Multigenerational Leadership (Luigi Peñaranda)

Not too long ago, I taught an undergraduate Bible course that provided a general overview of the Old Testament (the Hebrew Bible). After conducting some preliminary assessments, it was clear that, though the majority of students were brought up in Christian homes. They were for the most part Bible illiterate. There were some, of course, who knew a few Bible stories, but they failed to recognize their meaning and their relation to the rest of the Bible. My initial attempt at providing students with good information was unsuccessful. Gaining factual knowledge did not have a transformative effect on the class. Then, I assumed the challenge of exploring as many avenues as needed in order to engage this new generation of students in a way that was meaningful and transformative. A story found in Joshua chapters 3 and 4 contains a fascinating lesson on multigenerational leadership. In this passage, a new

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Remembering (Safiyah Fosua)

Recently I was privileged with the task of transforming a worship module that had been written for clergy worship planners into one that was lay-person friendly.  The task proved to be more difficult that I had thought it would be.  We who plan and lead worship are so immersed in what we are doing that I wonder if we have a difficult time understanding how our programming and performances are actually received by the ordinary God-fearing churchgoer that attends weekly worship hoping for a word from the Lord?  I continue to wonder if our tendency to overvalue off the chart worship may have inadvertently produced a clan of spectator-worshippers who come expecting to be overwhelmed each week (by us). If our worship has too much focus on us – what we do, how we do it, how well we do it – and not nearly enough focus on the God

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Every Five Years… (Wayne Schmidt)

“We tend to overestimate what we can accomplish in one year and underestimate what we can accomplish in five years.” This statement has often been attributed to Peter Drucker and I’ve certainly found it to be true in my own life and ministry (of course, Drucker is the “Apostle Peter” of the management field, and I wonder if he could have possibly written or said all that is attributed to him, even with his long life). Wesley Seminary at IWU will pass the five-year milestone next month (the first cohort launched in August of 2009).  It has been a fast-paced, innovation-infused five years!  It’s hard to believe over 400 students, men and women of different ethnicities and generations and ministry contexts who serve in nearly forty different denominations, are now enrolled.  We have an amazing new facility on the Marion campus, but students gather in variety of settings nationally and

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VBS…David Was Wrong! (Joanne Solis-Walker)

It is summer time and all across the U.S. churches host Vacation Bible Schools (VBS). My daughter has two particular VBS’s she attends and everything else on our summer schedule must revolve around those particular dates. It’s funny and very interesting how persistent she is about not missing VBS. It’s made me think about my love, as a child, for VBS. Not only did it contribute to my spiritual formation. The Mennonite church not far from my neighborhood in Vineland, NJ was a loving and welcoming place. Even though Spanish was my primary language, they took the time to share about God’s love in ways I could understand. (Just in case you are wondering, Spanglish has most recently become my primary language!) One of the main things I remember from my VBS days are the songs. I remember singing Psalm 51:10-11. “Create in me a clean heart, oh Lord. And

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How to “Hit a Home Run” in Your Next Sermon Series… (Charles Arn)

Here’s how to be guaranteed that listeners will eagerly anticipate your next series of messages, waiting to hear your words—and God’s—on the selected topic. First, some background… A few years ago the U.S. Navy Chaplain Corps asked me to research the attitudes of incoming 18-, 19-, and 20-year old recruits toward religion and church.  I interviewed young men and women across mainstream America.  One of the questions I asked was, “What is your opinion of church?”  Two words came back over and over: boring and irrelevant. “Relevance” is one of the hallmarks of an effective, contagious church. Attendees who find their church speaking clearly and creatively to life issues not only return, but bring friends. “Relevance” is found in the words and rhythm of songs…in the style and appearance of facilities…in children’s Sunday School and topics in the adult classes.  But perhaps more than any other area, relevance must be found in the sermon. In

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Multi-cultural Ministry: Ask the Hard Questions First (Kwasi Kena)

Nearly a decade has passed since I first heard the United States referred to as “the most multi-cultural nation state in the world” during an evangelism presentation. That phrase sent my mind racing back to biblical times to the church at Antioch. Unlike Jerusalem, the epicenter of Jewish Christianity, Antioch was mélange of diverse cultures. While the presence of the temple and Torah imposed a strong Jewish influence on Christianity in Jerusalem, Jewish and Gentile cultures shaped Christianity in Antioch. Paul and Peter pioneered the terrain that lay before infant Christianity. What had been a religion exclusive to Jewish converts was expanding to believing Gentiles. When diverse cultures and ethnicities huddle around religious matters, had questions come. What is essential Christianity and what is cultural preference? On what can we compromise? Who mediates? Who decides? Who has the final say? Paul, with his cosmopolitan background, handled diversity better than Peter

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Help! I Need Somebody! By Colleen Derr

“Help! I need somebody. Help, not just anybody. Help, you know I need someone, help” (Beatles). Do you ever find yourself singing or maybe even crying the words to that song? Chances are if you lead a ministry you have sung those words (or some form of them) at some point in time. Ministry to kids, teens, emerging adults, adults, seniors, and families requires lots of hands and feet – we cannot effectively serve alone. We need help! We need volunteers, lots of volunteers. The dictionary’s definition of volunteer is “a person who freely enlists for service” and its synonym is altruism, defined as “unselfish concern for the welfare of others.” Those two definitions combined give a great glimpse into the people who are ministry volunteers. The Church has always relied on volunteers to fulfill its mission and carry out the work of ministry. From the New Testament church’s Priscilla

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Wesley on Online Education (Ken Schenck)

OK, so John Wesley didn’t actually write anything about online education. It just didn’t occur to him while riding on horseback or writing with a lantern. But I am convinced that if Wesley were here today, he would reluctantly support online education. I say reluctantly because Wesley’s biases really were traditionalist. Did you know that he much preferred to preach in a physical church behind a physical pulpit? Did you know,that he did not want to start a new church? Did you know he didn’t want to ordain ministers in America? The thing about Wesley, though, is that he could tell the difference between what was non-negotiable and what was only preferable. We repeatedly find him doing things that were less than preferable (to him) for the sake not only of spreading the gospel, but for the sake of seeing believers deepened in their faith and walk with Christ. For

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Pastoral Resignation: What to do on Your Way Out

Background In April of 2010, I announced my resignation as Lead Pastor of a thriving congregation that I loved. We were experiencing significant God-momentum, with more people coming to faith in Christ and coming to our weekend services than ever before in our 95 year history. We were serving our community in substantial ways. Yet, I sensed God was calling me to another place of ministry. Pastors don’t usually leave when momentum and congregational love is at a heightened level, but I did. That church went without a Lead Pastor for nearly a year. The four other pastors on staff guided the church with skill and integrity, as they rotated the preaching and shared the leadership load. Some might think that a local church would tank without a senior leader, but the church continued to emanate vibrancy in worship and vitality in mission. I am convinced that the church’s present

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Vacationing in Rome by Dr. Safiyah Fosua

Summer’s coming along with vacation time and, in some churches, lower church attendance as church families take to the roads (or to the streams) during the hot summer months.  Depending upon where you serve, your summer worship planning may be scaled down or ramped up!  Either way, a series is an excellent way to organize your worship planning for this season. There are several schools of thought around the topic of series planning.  A series might be planned around a single topic, a series of interlocking themes, a Bible person, a doctrine, or it may be an intentional teaching through one or more books of the Bible. Topical and thematic series are often easier to plan when a pastor has been in leadership at a congregation long enough to know the congregation and its needs.  For example, a rural congregation whose members have suffered from the unpredictable nature of rains

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