Sabías tú …Did you know? (Joanne Solis-Walker)

There is something about this time of the year that automatically places me into a forward thinking mode. Perhaps it’s because once September hits, time tends to move at the speed of lightning. I start to think about where I’ve been and what the next year will bring. Can you believe we are a few months away from 2015? Did you know in 5 years we will enter into a new decade?   There is plenty of hype about 20/20 vision and I am not talking about eyesight! Many ministries have set goals and refined the vision. This past Sunday, I joined my husband Dan (Exec. Dir, Love INC Brevard) at a local church in Viera, FL and the pastor asked the congregation to consider the next 5 years and what type of changes they desire to implement in order to be the people God intends for them to be

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Identifying the Obstacles to Church Growth (Charles Arn)

Healthy people grow. Healthy animals grow. Healthy trees grow. Healthy plants grow. Healthy churches grow. Growth is a characteristic that God supernaturally breathed into all living things. And the body of Christ—the local church—is a living thing. So, when a church is not growing, it is helpful to ask: “Why?”  If we understand the reason for a church’s lack of growth, it is easier to accurately diagnose the cause and to prescribe the cure.  Here are the five most common “growth-restricting obstacles”… Growth-restricting obstacle #1: The Pastor. There are three different causes if the pastor is inhibiting the growth of a church: 1. The pastor does not have a PRIORITY. Churches grow when they have a priority for reaching the unchurched. When the pastor doesn’t, the church won’t. (See Luke 19:10) 2. The pastor does not have a VISION. Growing churches have pastors who believe God wants to reach people in their

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Cultural Anthropology: It’s Time to Dig In (Kwasi Kena)

One of the joys of traveling is discovering the prevailing cultural idioms used by people. In the United States we often use the term “dig in”. Like many cultural idioms, context determines meaning. Dig in could mean “to start eating food with enthusiasm”, or “pressing hard into something else”. In combat, it could refer to soldiers “digging in, as in digging trenches awaiting attack”, or it could mean “preparing yourself for a difficult situation”. In the cultural contexts of ministry class I teach, we learn to become Christian cultural anthropologists; trained observers who learn to discover important things about culture. Before we begin to look at others, however, we must look at ourselves. We liken the practice of cultural self-examination to going on an “anthropological dig”. My Lens: One of Many Cultural anthropologists learn to look for cues that provide insights into what a people group deems as a virtue

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Hybrid Class Experiment

This Fall, the faculty of Wesley Seminary are exploring ways in which we can enhance and publicize the advantages of coming onsite to do your MDiv. One experiment this semester is to have some of our online students join those in the onsite class real time. Thanks to those new students who were willing on a moment’s notice to try this experiment with us!  The first week, I thought, was a great success. Stay tuned for possible changes even as soon as January that might entice students in the area to come on campus instead of online or to entice any of you who might be just out of college who might consider moving to this area for the onsite program.

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Projection or Presence: Weighing the Pros and Cons of Video Venue Preaching

Video venues are flying off the ecclesial griddle like hot cakes. Everyone seems to be doing it. Some with great success, if success is primarily determined by increased attendance at the multi-site video venue church. Many growing churches are getting behind this trend. Who knows if the trend is here to stay or merely a flash in the pan? Regardless, I am convinced that churches must carefully and prayerfully consider not only the short-term but long-term practical and theological implications of launching a site where the preacher is not present but projected. Here are some of the major pros and cons of video venue preaching. The question that must be asked and answered is, do the pros outweigh the cons or vice versa? Pros of Projection -The most effective preacher gets projected. Let’s face it, there are relatively few preachers who hit the sermonic ball out of the park on

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Getting To Know Brannon Hancock (by Brannon Hancock)

Nothing like asking the new guy to write a blog post when he hasn’t even figured out how to retrieve his voicemail yet! If you would have told this dude (the lead singer is the cooler, thinner guy I used to be) that 15 years later he’d be a seminary professor, unbridled laughter may have been the response. At that point in 1999, I had dropped out of college deferred my undergraduate studies at Trevecca Nazarene University and was living the rock-and-roll dream. (Actually, to quote Matt Foley, it was more like “living in a van down by the river.”) But let me back up. I am a PK (that’s “pastor’s kid,” to the uninitiated). My dad was a PK too! And his brothers are all pastors. (You think it might run in the family…?) Growing up, my dad pastored churches in Ohio, Oklahoma and Tennessee. It was at a

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A New Year Begins

For those of you who were not able to be on campus yesterday for the opening convocation of the 2014-15 seminary year, it was a special launch to our sixth year as a seminary together. Dr. Wayne Schmidt cast a wonderful vision as we look forward to the next five years and Joanne Solis-Walker delivered a stirring sermon calling us to think of the service as a “holy convocation” where God calls his people at a specific time and a specific place and sets his people apart. She urged us to see our studies this year as a holy task to which God has called us. This year we have so many English and Spanish classes going that, for the first time, we are not able to have all of them under the seminary roof. My Bible class, nevertheless, is fully willing to make the trek from Maxwell over to

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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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