The Takeaway

As I was pondering today’s Day of Learning, I remembered the one question that has stuck with me.  It was asked by Mark Gorvette:

What does our church need to do to get healthly so that we can plant a church in five years?

Day of Learning

wschmidtrgb133x163px.jpgToday I had to be up especially early because our district was sponsoring a Day of Learning for its pastors.  First, let me applaude Pastor Greg Reynolds for doing this.  I love the fact that we as pastors are going to get together several times a year.  Yes, the continuing ed is great, but so was the fellowship.  I caught a ride with the other Wesleyan pastor in town.  We had a great team come in for this first of many days of learning.  Our guests were Dr. Wayne Schmidt of Kentwood Community Church, and Pastor Mark Gorvette, the District Superintendent of the West Michigan District of the Wesleyan Church.

It was a great day.  Wayne gave us his testimony of how God called him to plant KCC and how both he and the church grew.  He also spoke on his book, “Ministry Momentum.”  It was great stuff.

Pastor Mark presented information on church multiplication.  In 1990, there were 51.3 million worshipers in churches across the USA.  In 2006, there were 51.8 million worshipers in churches across the USA.  In the same 16 year period, the USA netted a gain of 52 million more people into its culture.  While we often talk of church growth, it appears that we have been ineffective of assimilating people into our churches.  Forty years ago at the merger of the Pilgrim Holiness and Wesleyan Methodist churches there were 2000 in North America. Only 1,400 congregations remain.  We have closed 600 churches.  Now, we have planted 300 congregations, but we are not keeping up with the closed churches.  Mark is a big church plant advocate and you can sense his passion for it. 

 After both pastors talked we had an opportunity for a question and answer session.  It was great and it was an encouraging day.  It gave me lots to think about.

Pastor’s Pen

pen.jpgHere is the lead article from our bi-monthly newsletter:

Several days ago, Pam and I were on our way home from doing some church business. As we pulled into the driveway, I noticed something that I have rarely seen here in the South. No, I’m not talking about snow and yes, we haven’t seen much of that either. But what I saw was how dead and grey the world was this week. Part of that is because we have had some real cold weather with lows bottoming out around 10, combined with the fact that we are in one of the harshest droughts ever on record. The grass didn’t get much nourishment this fall and that caused it to die this winter. Now, to Pam and I this is the way winter should always look-dead and grey.

Sometimes our spiritual lives get like that. Hopefully that should concern us as it should, but we also need to remember that some of the greatest Christians in the last two thousand years went through spiritual dry spells. I know it’s a tough thing to go through. I’ve been through them as well. Sometimes you feel as cold, grey, and dead in your spiritual life as the winter around you. That’s when we need to remember that spring is just around the corner. Most of you know the gospel song, “Joy Comes in the Morning.” The chorus goes like this:

Hold on my child,
Joy comes in the morning
Weeping only lasts for the night
Hold on my child,
Joy comes in the morning
The darkest hour means dawn is just in sight.

When we come to that place in our spiritual life – that cold, dead, grey time – that is a time that we can turn to God. Just because we feel spiritual dead, doesn’t mean we are, especially if we are concerned about it. That means there is life in your soul – a life that is waiting to spring forth.

This year, we will once again have our SpringLife emphasis, which coincides with Lent and Easter. It is a time of preparation and reflection for the upcoming Easter season, much like Advent prepares us for Christmas. If you are going through one of those spiritual dry spells, use this time to help water and nourish your soul. We try to keep our bodies in physical shape. We must keep our souls in great shape as well.

Sunday Night Thoughts

What can I say except that today was one of those extremely solid days of ministry.  There was high personal satisfaction factor — I feel like good things happened today, and that always makes a pastor feel good.  I sat under Pam’s teaching once again during her substitute stint in the “Young Adult” class.  She did a great job and there was excellent interaction — she makes a great moderator/facilitator.  During worship, there was a great spirit present.  The students really seemed to enjoy the worship this week.  Everything about the service went great except for some reason during my message the PowerPoint went crazy.  Anna was able to save the video illustration (which really got the point across.)  People responded positively to the message and that is always a good thing and everyone hung around after church again (I love it!)

For the next several weeks leading up to Easter, our Sundays will be shorter, because our choir is rehearsing for our worship presentation on Easter Sunday morning during our main worship hour.  We have a great group singers and musicians.  I can’t wait to see how it turns out.  I will be interspersing my message throughout the music.  The original narrarations were lame (in my opinion.)  We took our first sing through this afternoon before our Spiritual Formation time.  We took a look at Colossians about how Christ has freed us from following man-made rules and we had a great discussion time.

Like I said, just one of those solid days.  Praise the Lord!  Blessings on you all…

Worship Boxscore

Call to WorshipPsalm 27:1, 4-9
Songs of WorshipOpen the Eyes of My Heart Lord (Baloche); We Want to See Jesus Lifted High (Horley); Be the Centre (Frye)
Song of WorshipBring Them In (Thomas/Ogden)
Ministry through Music
Worship through Prayer

Worship through Giving
Song of WorshipPraise the One Who Breaks the Darkness (Edwards/Traditional American Melody
Scripture Reading Matthew 4:12-23; 1 Corinthians 1:10-18
Worship through God’s WordInvite Others
Song of CommittmentLittle Is Much When God is In It (Suffield)

Weekly Lectionary Readings

1212_10_67-the-man-at-the-wheel-gloucester-fishermen-s-memorial-gloucester-ma-usa_web.jpgThird Sunday after Epiphany
January 27, 2008

Isaiah 9:1-4

Psalm 27:1, 4-9

1 Corinthians 1:10-18

Matthew 4:12-23

Back in my childhood Sunday School days we used to sing “I will make you fishers of men.”  It’s a great reminder of what Christ came to earth to do.  Yes, he came as our Savior, but he also called us to follow His example in building the Kingdom.  To see more of my thoughts on the subject, here is the message that I will be sharing Sunday, “Invite Others.”

Blogging As Ministry

For the last nine months or so, I have been working with one of the young men in our church so that he can get his God and Church award for Boy Scouts.  What does this have to do with blogging you ask?  Last night’s lesson involved listing the ministries of our church.  First, we listed the ministries of our church that minister directly back to us.  Then, we listed the ministries that minister to our community (Martinsville and Henry County.)  Finally, we listed the ministries that go beyond our community.  It was interesting to note that the category with the most ministries was the first category, the one with the least was the final category.  We should probably do this as a leadership team as well.

One thing that came up was our “Internet” ministry.  “We have an Internet ministry?” came the question.  Yes, we do.  First, there is our church website.  Then, there are my online writings (or blogs.) There’s a weekly e-mail to the congregation and friends.  One of the things we have done recently is to make our bi-monthly newsletter available in pdf format.  This blog has several regular readers, but I also get readers from “google” searches.  I say Google, but I get hits from the other search engines as well.

Several weeks ago, Pam wrote an article about a book she had read.  That in turn helped one of my good blogging friends with something he was going through.  I’ve had people comment on various posts.  So now, here’s this small church on the Southside of Virginia that has a ministry that, potentially, could go around the world. 

One of the things my good friend Mark taught me, is to stay on channel P (that is positive).  There is so much negative going on within the world of “Christian” blogging.  I think the world need more positive Christian voices.  So, that is what I attempt to do here.  This is simply an extension of the ministry of Preston Wesleyan — an opportunity to reach out to the world beyond and also minister to other believers in a positive way.


A few days ago fellow Southside blogger Chuck Warnock posted about Super Bowl Sunday vs. Transfiguration Sunday.  I’ll admit that I’ve used a Super Bowl theme before.  There are some great thoughts at this article “Is Feb 3 Really Super Bowl Sunday?”  It brings up some great points.  I’ve struggled with this for several years and with different churches. Wesleyans typically have not followed the liturgical church calendar.  This year is a classic example.  Did you know that Pentecost Sunday, happens to fall on the same day as Mother’s Day.  Last year, Pentecost Sunday fell on the Sunday before Memorial Day.  I like Chuck’s thoughts regarding the Christian calendar.  What could be more Christian than marking time by the events in the life of Christ?

Our New Home

Welcome to our new home.  I’ve been contemplating this for about two months and finally decided to move over to WordPress.  It has some features that I like more than Blogger.  I will be keeping Virginia Transplant as an archive site.  There are some videos over there that didn’t transfer to here. 

 With the new blogsite comes a new name, “Reflections from the Southside.”  Virginia Transplant was good for the first few years we were here, but this new name better reflects the purpose of this blog — what it means to live, worship, and minister on the Southside of Virginia.  I plan on keeping the content the same, only the name has changed.  Blessings…