Well done! (Wayne Schmidt)

This blog post is scheduled for August 31st – Ken Schenck’s last official day as Dean of Wesley Seminary at IWU.  It has been my privilege to work beside him for nearly six years.  We are opposites in many ways, yet I’ve learned so much from him. I thought I’d share a few of those lessons – not to elevate Ken, because that would be the last thing he would want.  But because I believe God is honored when we recognize how He is at work in those we serve with…much of what God wants to teach us comes out of team relationships. The area of greatest fulfillment may not equal the arena of greatest fruitfulness The principal architects of the unique learning model of Wesley Seminary were Ken, Russ Gunsalus and Keith Drury.  After the academic design was initially envisioned, legend has it that Keith challenged Ken to serve

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DIVINE DELAY…Really Jesus? Now?

Welcome back to Wesley Seminary! We’ve been praying for you and trust you’ve been praying for us. How was your summer break? I am convinced God is doing His best to get my attention regarding the subject of His timing, as opposed to my timing on things. During the past week the topic surfaced at least three times in the most unexpected ways. Do you think this has anything to do with being impatient or with wanting God to do things my way and/or at my pace? I suspect He was trying to call me on this during the summer but I must have been too busy! You think? Divine Delay is the title of a sermon preached by one of my pastors and it messed me up! It all started with Mark 5 and a series called Hidden Meanings. Jairo (Jairus in English) has a daughter and she is

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Is It God’s Will that I change Churches?

Friends… Over the past several months, several pastoral friends have prayerfully asked this question, “Do you sense the ministry move from ‘here to there’ would be a faithful transition for me?” This is always a deep trust question that I prayerfully attempt to honor. But this faith adventure with Jesus also has imbedded within it presuppositions that should be identified before moving forward. Simply, let’s look back and in before leaning forward. The best way for me to do this is using a Socratic approach; let me ask you some questions to help you discover truth. So please overhear me talking to a friend about one of the most pressing decisions any pastor can and will make. First, “Do you assume that the location of your ministry calling is paramount and of primary concern to your faithfulness to the Lord?” (Theology question, “Is the Lord’s working in and thru you restricted by location?”) Second, as an

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A Blessed Six Years!

New Dean David Smith and I are in that strange liminal zone of transition. He will officially assume the Dean’s role a week from today, but he has already served as Dean at the consecration service this last Saturday. Meanwhile, I moved fully out of my office on Friday. It feels a little like the kingdom of God–already but not yet. The Lord has been gracious in this transition. I am so thankful that David Smith has taken hold of the academic wheel of the Seminary. I can already see ways in which he will advance the mission of the Seminary beyond what I have done. It has been delightful to see how excited the community is to have him return to Marion and to give guidance to the academic ventures of the Seminary going forward. I have a few reflections on transitions of this kind, including pastoral transitions. They

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2018 & 2042: Our Many Colored Future (Kwasi Kena)

The future. People have been and remain fascinated by it. Futurism, an art movement originating in Italy around 1909, emphasized the dynamism of speed, motion, youth, technology and the force of machinery. The movement only lasted nine years; ending in 1918. For some Futurism represented progress and hope, for others warning and fear. George Orwell took a stab at predicting the future in his classic book, 1984. Stanley Kubrick shared his thoughts in the film, 2001: a space odyssey. The business world looks to futurists who explore predictions and possibilities of the future. When I attended seminary in the ‘80s, the book Megatrends was required reading. With such widespread interest in the future, where should Christian leaders focus their gaze today? I suggest there are two sets of numbers that we should not ignore; the years 2018 and 2042. In 2018, demographers note that the majority of persons aged 18

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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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