Planning to have children? (Wayne Schmidt)

This past week our family gathered for Thanksgiving.  The celebration included our two sons and their families (they’ve blessed us with six grandchildren), as well as our daughter and son-in-law.  Our daughter has been married a few years and is approaching 30, so the question occasionally asked (and more frequently thought) was “Are you planning to have children?” In our Midwestern culture there is an expectation that marriage includes children and there is anticipation (especially among grandparents) of when that day will come. In early November I attended Multiplication Summit 2015 in West Michigan, my “pastoral stomping grounds” for 30 years.  I was attending, along with our Director of Admissions’ Aaron Wilkinson, because Wesley Seminary’s number one priority for “signature service” to the Church is to equip leaders for church multiplication.  Over a couple of days we toured a variety of church plants and sites, and learned from a diversity

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Thanks Giving…Giving Thanks (Joanne Solis-Walker)

Growing up in a Hispanic church, we had Thanksgiving services and most of the testimonies started with Doy gracias a Dios por la salvación y el perdón de mis pecados. También por proveer el techo de donde vivimos, la comida y todo lo demás que tenemos y por todas las cosas que hemos pasado solo con la ayuda de Dios. [I thank God for salvation and the forgiveness of my sin. Also thank him for the roof over our heads, the food we eat and everything else we have and all the things He’s brought me through.] Really sweet memories! Across the board, this is the time of the year where we are more prone to pause and give thanks to God for all of the blessings we’ve received. There are various lists going around on Facebook. For every day in November the person posts a different reason why they

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Just Say “Yes” (David Smith)

Recently I was discussing with several pastors the issue of finding and obeying God’s will. They all agreed how difficult it is to find His will as they made decisions. As we pondered the topic further, it was clear that in their minds the term “God’s will” sounded a bit distant and disconnected. As if “His will” is something God keeps hidden from them and they had to wrestle with Him to uncover it, much like Jacob at Bethel. Thus, I attempted to alter that paradigm for them, because I do not think anything could be farther from the truth. What if we made the statement just a bit more relational…I want us to learn to hear God’s voice. A subtle yet significant change to His will. A great place to start would be the key parable in each of the Synoptic Gospels. Take just a minute and read Mark 4:1-9: Jesus began to teach again by the

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“You’re Welcome”-A Brief Look at Biblical Hospitality (Kwasi Kena)

Prior to my arrival to the Wesley Seminary at IWU, I served as a denominational congregational development coordinator. When I visited churches I often asked them to describe their congregation. As if reading from a common script, the church’s responses included descriptors like “friendly,” “hospitality,” and “welcoming to visitors”. Without much prodding, someone would then recite a laundry list of “hospitality tasks” the church performed. We have greeters and ushers. We have lounge lizards (people who roamed around and greeted folks). We have good signage. Our nursery is top notch. The bulletin is “user-friendly”. We have coffee hour before (or after) service. We “mug” first-time visitors (i.e. give them a church coffee mug). We have lots of visitor parking spaces close to the sanctuary…and the list would go on. (Personal correspondence) Each of those actions are good expressions that signal a congregation’s desire to make a good first impression. Beyond

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You can Learn a lot from a Preacher (Lenny Luchetti)

Every preacher has at least one primary strength from which all preachers can glean. I have been preaching for more than 20 years and teaching preaching for more than 10 of those years. I love listening to preachers who hit the proverbial ball out of the park in key areas, especially in areas where I strike out or get singles. Here are 7 skills we can learn from 7 different preachers. All of the following preachers have sermons that can be easily accessed on the internet. Andy Stanley and Conversational Delivery: Stanley breaks many of the old rhetorical rules. At times, he talks too fast, uses too many hand gestures, and doesn’t enunciate well. Yet, tens of thousands of people listen to him live and online each week. Why? Because he replicates in the preaching event what happens naturally in conversation. He seems natural, conversational and, as a result, authentic.

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Are Your New Members Becoming New Ministers? (Charles Arn)

Eleven years ago my wife and I joined a new church. I remember how alone I felt on Sunday mornings in those first few months. My wife was a better “joiner” than I. She had made some new friends and seemed well on her way to calling the church “our church.” But it wasn’t quite as easy for me. Then, one Sunday morning an announcement appeared in the bulletin for the All-Church Work Day in two weeks. “Why not?” I thought. That Saturday I arrived at 8:30 a.m., and was assigned to help paint Room 14. When I walked in, I found two other people working away. We introduced ourselves and spent the next 3 hours painting doors, closets, walls, and floorboards. Of course, you can’t be in a room with two other people for three hours without conversing. And it was a good time. But, what happened next Sunday

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Worship As Spiritual Formation: 5 Theses (Brannon Hancock)

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been out on the worship conference circuit this summer, raising awareness for our new Worship Arts specialization, that can be taken as part of our Master of Arts in Ministry degree, or along with the Master of Divinity. Two weeks ago I was at the National Worship Leader Conference in Dallas, the fifth and last of the “tour,” representing the seminary and teaching workshops on “Worship As Spiritual Formation” and “The Worship Leader as Pastor.” Having now shared these talks multiple times in various venues throughout 2015, I’m about ready to retire them, at least in their present form. But before I do, I thought I might share one of them here. So, without further ado, and for the sake of brevity, here are the first 5 of my “10 Theses” on Worship as Spiritual Formation – I’ll share the other 5 next time. (Note: this is also pertinent right now because Colleen Derr

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Asking the Right Questions (Patrick Eby)

Introduction Sometimes the difficulties we face are centered in the kind of questions we ask. I am not talking about the questions we ask to make trouble, but I am talking about questions we ask that lead us to the wrong goal. In the classroom, there is no such thing as a “stupid” question, but in life the questions we ask can get us into real trouble.  I want to think about three of those questions. A cacophony of voices We live in a world where everyone has an opinion and everyone thinks they are right. Anyone who engages in the debates at some level knows the angst one feels as you see some of your friends yell at each other on Facebook. You know the friends who can find something wrong in almost anything someone posts. The goal is not communication or problem solving, it is total domination. The goal

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What Does “Best” Look Like? (Colleen Derr)

What does “best” look like?   There was a book a few years ago that suggested that what we do on Sunday morning should be the “best hour of the week” for everyone who attends.  And at first glimpse that sounds like a great idea.  The best hour would mean it would be exciting and attractive. People would be motivated to attend and mark it as priority on their calendar.  It would also mean that they would remember it all week, talk about it, and tell their friends about it: “You have to come with me, it is the best!”   But how do you define “best”?  What does best look like?   My daughter shared with me a recipe for the “best pancakes ever”!  She has been bragging about these amazing made from scratch, diet friendly pancakes that she loves.  Said she could eat them every day and would

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CHANGE LEADERSHIP & Should Leaders Be The Source of Change? Maybe Not. (Dr. Bob Whitesel)

Complexity Leadership Theory (CLT), ever heard of it? Actually, most of my students are studying it, but they don’t know it.  Basically (and this is very abbreviated) “complexity leadership theory” believes that leadership is a “complex, dynamic process that emerges in the interactions of people and ideas” (Sims & Lopes, 2011, p. 63).  By this is meant that CLT recognizes that leadership is a complex matrix (or Mary Jo Hatch would say “collage,” 1997, p. 54) of traits, abilities, skills, behaviors, relationships and influence processes. This is exactly the leadership mix you will find in these postings: https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2015/08/21/leadership-the-5-recurring-elements-in-leadership-according-to-northouse/ andhttps://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2015/08/21/leadership-case-study-c-student-becomes-successful-csi-detective-a-true-story/. But, an important contribution of “CLT” has been that leaders shouldn’t make or force change. CLT says leaders create change, “not by making change happen but by evoking change dynamics among people who work and learn together. The focus on leadership, then, shifts from the individual as a leader to the

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