Q: Who is More Important Than Your First-Time Visitors? A: Your Second-Time Visitors! (Charles Arn)

My Experience… Ten years ago my family and I moved into a new home and neighborhood, and used the summer to search for a new church home. In 8 of the 10 churches we visited, I filled out a visitor card or signed a guest register. (Two churches had no way for visitors to identify themselves.)  Of the churches visited, 6 of 8 sent a “Thank you for visiting” letter, and 2 had a representative phone us the following week. My family especially enjoyed three of the churches and decided to go back for another visit. I again completed the visitor information and, the following week, checked the mailbox for a follow-up. Monday … Tuesday … Wednesday … no letter … Thursday … Friday … Saturday … nothing. No card. No call. No contact. We returned to the same three churches for a third visit in our search for a church

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3 Things I’ve Learned on the Worship Conference Circuit (Brannon Hancock)

Worship MA

My first year as a full time faculty member at Wesley Seminary has been exciting, in no small part because we are still constantly tweaking, refining, innovating and collaborating to be the best seminary that we can be for our students. I’ve also learned that, in an innovative environment like Wesley Seminary, one must be careful what one says in committee meetings, because a random idea just might become reality (and create a bunch of additional work!). In late 2014, our (outgoing – *sniffle*) Dean Ken Schenck, our Director of Admissions Aaron Wilkinson, and I had a “meeting after the meeting” where we discussed our current Master of Arts in Ministry specializations. At that time, we offered Leadership (Bob Whitesel’s area); Children, Youth and Family Ministry (Colleen Derr’s area), and Church Planting and Multiplication, Church Revitalization, and were in the process of rolling out one in Pastoral Care. So, the newbie professor

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The Fruit of the Spirit (Patrick Eby)

One of the tensions we face as Christians is the call to live in a world that is not in total agreement with our belief system. It may come as a surprise to some, but this is a new problem. Christians have always lived in a world that is at odds with the values of Scripture. So how can we be faithful to God and to our values in a world that does not understand or accept the message of Jesus?   Lamin Sanneh argues that the gospel must be translated into each new culture. Christianity, especially since the Reformation, has encouraged the translation of the Scripture into the language of every tribe and people.  But translation raises an interesting question, how do we relate the message to each new culture.  According to Sanneh there are basically three ways Christians have approached their relationship to new cultures. First, some choose

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Two Steps to Discovering the Spiritual AND Physical Needs of Others (Bob Whitesel)

If God intends spiritual reconnection to be a reaction to crises, then how do we help people in the midst of crisis?  And, how to we know exactly which crises they are experiencing?  There are two natural and organic ways to help those in crisis. Be a friend.  Becoming a friend and traveling along with a person on his/her spiritual journey in the role of a companion is the first and most beneficial step.  Though we may also become one’s mentor, guide and navigator; this process begins with being a friend. Proverbs 17:17 reminds us that friends reflect God’s love, stating “Friends love all the time…” Ask.  After a friendship has begun, at some point you just have to ask about the crises a friend is going through.  Sometimes crises are so personal and/or unsavory that people are reluctant to share them even with a friend.  John Wesley saw this

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KNOW WHAT YOU ARE CALLED TO DO… AND DO IT! (Luigi Peñaranda)

If you are called to do something new, something that does not follow the “this-is-how-we-do-things-around-here” perspective, you will be criticized. Some will simply challenge you because they resist change. That’s normal. It’s your job as a leader to help people overcome their apprehensions to change by getting them ready for a transition and communicating a clear picture of all the positive outcomes that can accompany change. Some, however, will resist you as a leader and will try to discredit your approach or tarnish your reputation. Here is a favorite strategy of the disgruntled ones, which is very effective in church contexts: try to erode the relationship between the leader and the followers. Jesus was no stranger to conflict, and had to deal with the divisive kind. Consider the way in which the Pharisees questioned the leadership of Jesus in Mark 2:14-22. First, the Pharisees approached the disciples and planted a

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Wesley Seminary at IWU International Ministry Education (Wayne Schmidt)

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is vibrantly spreading “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The Great Commission to “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:18-20) is being fulfilled in a global context impacted as well by growing secularism and the mission of other world religions such as Islam. Technology is being harnessed to communicate the good news of Jesus Christ, with avenues such as the Jesus Film resulting in millions coming to salvation. Simultaneously, the spread of the Gospel has prompted a need for discipleship as never before.  Indigenous disciplers, whether clergy or lay, must be raised up quickly and effectively.  Without the education of emerging leaders in the Church, truth will be lost to heresy and decisions for Christ will fail to yield full transformation through the Spirit of Christ. Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University echoes the clarion call of our namesake, John Wesley

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#ShareUrCoat (Joanne Solis-Walker)

 In just a few days, more than 50 students will gather at Wesley Seminary to be part of a high-impact course on immigration. The Seminary in collaboration with World Relief (http://worldrelief.org/) and Immigrant Connection of The Wesleyan Church, (https://www.wesleyan.org/immigrant) will host the 40 Basic Hour Immigration Law course.  I thought it appropriate to share a few things. The Training: I get to come alongside the experienced team of lawyers from World Relief and engage in theological reflection with those students registered for academic credit. We will have roundtable discussions and converse about immigration from a biblical, theological and historical perspective. World Relief will teach everything related to the law and the book is HUGE! Lots of immigration law to be learned. The Outcome: Participants who complete the course and pass the immigration law exam are recognized and certified by the Board of Immigration Appeal (http://www.justice.gov/eoir/board-of-immigration-appeals).  Upon completion they begin the

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Interview with the New Dean, Dr. David Smith

Ken: No doubt this was a hard decision to make. You love Kingswood, its faculty, and students. You are good friends with new President, Steve Lennox, and no doubt were excited about starting on his new journey with him. Why do you feel the Lord is leading you to make this change in your life’s ministry at this time? David Smith: Ken, thanks for giving me the opportunity to walk you thru the decision from my perspective. First, this was such difficult decision since I have a job at Kingswood University that I love and I work with people who I deeply respect. Moreover, President Mark Gorveatte has given the faculty here at Kingswood freedom to (re)create and (re)vision the curriculum for the 21st century. This is not restricted to the classes we teach but also to the entire delivery system. We have tried to create a transformational environment where

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Everything I Learned about Church I Learned from the Drive-In Theater (Kwasi Kena)

In 1989, Robert Fulghum wrote the book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. The book is a series of two to three page essays. Each one presents a reflection on some unique learning experience Fulghum had in life. His book opens with a poem like creed that proclaims that all one needs to learn about living a good life one already knows or should have learned in kindergarten. In related fashion, I wonder if we can learn much about church behavior from the rise and fall of drive-in theaters. In 1955, The Reformed Church of America gave The Reverend Robert Schuller and his wife Arvella a $500 grant to start a ministry in California. In a quirky entrepreneurial move, the Schullers chose to launch their ministry in a drive-in theater. An early ad expressed what the ministry appealed to in potential visitors: “The Orange Church meets

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Tactical Tips for the Guest Speaker

If you’re a pastor, chances are someone at some point will invite you to be a guest speaker at their church or special event.  Guest speaking occasions can provide some of the most significant opportunities for ministry impact. The guest speaking adventure is also laden with some dangerous dynamics. These guest speaker survival tips can help you navigate the challenges. Explore the Context: There have been a few times when I was invited to preach in a context that I knew absolutely nothing about. Maybe that has happened to you. The person who invited you was in her 20s, so you planned a message for 20 somethings. When you arrived to speak at the event, you discovered that the large majority of people in the preaching context are in their 60s and 70s. None of your pop culture illustrations and quotes are going to connect with this crowd. You might

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