Thursday, December 22

The No Entry No Exit Quote

A couple of posts ago I menioned the "no entry - no exit" illustration that I had heard but wasn't sure who to credit. This morning it appeared on Rick Warren's weekly email. Here it is:

"Despite our efforts to keep him out, God intrudes. The life of Jesus is bracketed by two impossibilities: a virgin's womb and an empty tomb. Jesus entered our world through a door marked 'No Entrance' and left through a door marked 'No Exit.'" - Peter Larson, Prism (Jan/Feb 2001)

That dog will hunt! Preach it.

Wednesday, December 21


I'm not sure where, how or when the term "twentysomethings" got started. Maybe someone out there in blogger-land knows. What I do know is that it is a very important demographic and it is a segment of most congregations that get's little or no attention.

We are typically big on children's ministry and youth ministry or even senior adult ministry. But as our teens morph into adults and get jobs or lay around or go to college...who is providing meaningful ministry opportunities for them?

I've had this conversation with a number of people and I intend to host a think tank on twentysomethings here @ HQ in the New Year. Here are a few links that I have found to be helpful:

What are your thoughts on ministry to this age group? What have you found to be helpful?

Monday, December 12

Singles Ministry

Last week I had an excellent phone conversation with Kris Swiatocho ( don't ask me how to pronounce that one! ). Kris is the Director of If you are unfamiliar with the Singles Network you need to point your browser and all those interested or involved in singles ministry to their site. The site is loaded with usable resources to start, promote and maintain a dynamic ministry to singles.

It was refreshing to hear Kris talk about how she just wants people to use whatever they can get off of her site without having to pay for everything. Her heart is in serving the local church and making things accessible to churches of all sizes. Kris travels exensively speaking to churches and challenging people to reach out to the singles of their communities.

If you are looking for a low-cost but high-quality conference on ministry to Single Adults you might want to check out

So what is single's ministry like in your church? Does it exist? Should it? Do you have a distinct outreach to Singles or or they incorporated into what the church is already doing?

Friday, December 9

No Entrance...No Exit

God does the impossible - and a baby is born to a virgin. It defies logic. It's impossible. It goes against everything we know. It's God's specialty. The "no entrance" sign didn't just hang over an over-crowded inn, it hung over a door called humanity. Human restraints are no match for God and a sinless Saviour enters the world, our world, and we will never be the same.

Another sign hung over a tomb. This sign reads, "no exit" and it is firmly nailed to a door callled death. No one escapes death...until Jesus. Once again God blows away the barriers of our reality and ushers in a new era of grace, mercy and truth. The One who entered this world under what we would call impossible circumstances leaves this world through another 'impossibility' - the Resurrection.

Every time you see a no entrance or a no exit sign this Christmas remember that God specializes in things impossible.

Tuesday, December 6

Throw Another Blog On the Fire

The more I blog the more I become aware of how blogging is growing and becoming more mainstream. Obviously, if you are reading this you are at least somewhat familiar with blogging. More and more I am hearing of other churches, Pastors and ministries that are leveraging blogs for the Kingdom. Cool.

Are you reading any other blogs? What types? What subjects? Are you using blogs in your ministry? If so, I'd love to hear about it.


Thursday, December 1

"Values" from a Mortgage Company

We have one of those shower radios - just so there isn't a single moment in any day that we aren't inundated with commercials and media! Most of the time it is nice to start the day with some Christian radio.

This morning as I was going through the usual routine the tag line to a mortgage company ad caught my ear. Right after their name they gave these words:

I'm not usually this sharp first thing in the morning, but I did think, "Wow, what if we all had these values? They are selling mortgages and they have higher standards than a lot of churches or people I know!" The reality is that you CAN build a company on values like these and you can also build a marriage...a career...a reputation...a legacy...

Wednesday, November 30

The Holy Hustle

Did the title get your atteniton? What I'm thinking about is the whole rush of the Christmas season. Speaking for my family, we actually quite enjoy the whole bustle and busy-ness of these few weeks. Sure, some of it is completely driven by advertising and shopping, but I see another side to it.

Can it be that with the heightened activity there can also be a heightened awareness of what Christmas means to us? Can there also be a heightened sense of gratitude and giving? Can the busyness actually help us get into the season that much more and spur us on to receive all the 'gifts' of the season?

As a family and as we hustle about taking care of Christmas errands we do our best to point out to our children the good we see in people and also to point out when someone is obviously missing what Christmas is about. In that sense, the hustle becomes holy as it gives us opportunities to teach our kids and to cement our core values of Christmas. Can any good come out of the craziness of the Christmas rush? I think so. What do you think?

Wednesday, November 23

The View From My Office

I am not a winter person. Some people ( my wife included ) just love to see this fluffy white stuff falling to the ground. To them it just makes it feel that much more like the 'holidays'. I enjoy the holidays, I just think that I could enjoy them more from maybe...Arizona! String some lights on a cactus and plug in an electric snowman. Perfect!

The snow is one sign that the holidays are upon us. There is also the turkey, the traveling, the shopping, the turkey again. For many this season will be a welcomed time of festivities and thanksgiving. For others, this is a dreaded time of the year that only serves to remind them of all they do not have. You will have many opportunities to 'give thanks' in the next few weeks. But rather than just counting your blessings, why not share them? When you give to others you are truly showing God how thankful you are and you are showing others what Jesus looks like. Remember, "For God so loved the world, he gave..."


Thursday, November 17

The Revolution

This summer I was handed a pre-release copy of George Barna's new book, "The Revolution". It was one of those rare reads that I found myself really devouring and picking up every chance I had. I think what piqued my interest the most is that I have seen first-hand what Barna was describing and you probably have too. Last week HQ hosted a live satellite featuring George Barna and the topic "Revolution".

After months of research, hundreds of churches, thousands of interviews...Barna is pointing to a growing # of believers who are living out a vibrant, passionate, missional relationship with Jesus and at the same time they are choosing not to attend a church. These 'revolutionaries' are leaving our churches because the church simply isn't engaging them or challenging them or giving them the avenues they need to truly live out their faith. They're bored. It's not that they don't want accountability or community, actually they crave those things. They've tried to bring about change in the church and they have decided in order to 'save their faith' they would be better off with out the church. Many get involved with home churches, cyber-churches or para-church agencies.

Here are the 7 passions of a revolutionary as described by Barna:
Intimate worship
Spiritual Growth
Resource Investment
Compassioante Servanthood
Spiritual Friendships

What do you think? Have you read the book? Have you seen or known people like this?

Monday, November 14

A District Re- Launches Men's Ministry

I was privileged this past weekend to attend the re-launch of Men's Ministry for the Atlantic District. Led by Ken McGeorge ( a true men's ministry veteran ) they are calling their ministry "Man Alive". 58 men from 18 churches gathered to share, listen, pray and believe for God to ignite men across Atlantic Canada and Maine.

Something powerful happens when men roll up their sleeves and open up their hearts. God was there. They now have a plan, a team and a renewed commitment to seeing as many men as possible be transformed and discipled into all that God wants them to be.

A couple of recurring themes from the discussion:
Men's Ministry must be rooted in prayer. Serious, deep, intercession with God.
Men's Ministry must close the gap between our belief and our behavior. Live what we say we believe.
Men's Ministry is vital to the local church and it must consist of vital relationships.

What do you think? What impact has men's ministry had in your church? What impact has the lack of men's ministry had in your church?

Tuesday, November 8

"Do whatever he tells you."

Don't you love it when God uses a verse of scripture to totally snap your neck around and make you pay attention? It's also continually amazing how we can read a text many times over and then all of a sudden we see something in that text that we never really grasped before. It happened last week.

Our stuff plus my Adult Ministries Cabinet were gathered for morning devotions. Jim Dunn was leading us and pointed to the text in John chapter 2 of Jesus' first miracle. In verse 5 Mary says something very simple, yet very powerful and something that is really the very essence of spiritual formation, " whatever he tells you to do". Bam! Think about it. Apply it to your life. Use it as a lens over your relationships, your decisions, your mindset.

What are your thoughts about this text or the idea of 'full obedience'?

Friday, November 4

Adult Ministry Cabinet

This past Wednesday and Thursday I hosted the first meeting of my ( your ) Adult Ministry Cabinet. The four cabinet members each bring a wealth of experience and a thrust of enthusiasm for seeing believers become spiritually formed.

This being our first meeting, our time was pretty much split between 'current status' and 'forward thinking' on each of the adult areas of ministry. I won't unpack all of our discussion in this one posting, but I will say that one of the things we are most excited about is "Holynext". This personal, spiritual formation retreat will be launched here @ HQ on March 24-25, 2006. Keith Drury will be our communicator, Jason Berry will be leading worship.

Here are the cabinet members left to right: Rich Avery, Robin Ritchie, Tim Guptill, Dawn Colaw, and Joel Heron. What are some of the issues that you are facing in your ministry that you would like to see this cabinet discuss? What are your thoughts on leadership teams like this?

Monday, October 31

Our Princess

From time to time you are just going to have to bear with me as I use this blog to brag on my kids, etc. This is one of those days! Hey, it helps you to know more about us and what's going on in our world.

Autumn is crazy about Princess's. This weekend the Disney Store in the Mall had a grand opening and Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty were there to help celebrate. Gayla stood in line with Autumn for half an hour to see Cinderella and for half an hour to see Sleeping Beauty.

Autumn's favorite is Tinker Bell. Cinderella told her that she knows Tinker Bell personally. Autumn was quite impressed to have her picture taken with someone who knows Tink! Fun days!

Wednesday, October 26


HolyNext is the name of the first spiritual formation retreat to be held at the World Headquarters of the Wesleyan Church, March 24-25, 2005. It is a "set apart weekend to take you to the next level in your journey with Jesus". 20 hours of deep, personal, spiritual renewal and refocusing.

A few days ago I sat in the Starbucks in Marion, Indiana with one of the retreat speakers, Keith Drury. Keith has been doing spiritual formation and writing on spiritual disciplines longer than I've been alive. ( Maybe not, but it still makes me feel young to say that! ) We were both stirred out of our seats to think of what might happen with this retreat. My goal is to see this begin in Indiana and then blaze across our denomination in the following months and years.

I'll write much more on this in the future, and I really hope to get some input and feedback from those of you reading this. In the meantime, think about what you would be looking for in a retreat that is specifically designed to give you a spiritual shot in the arm ( or kick in the rear ).

Monday, October 24

Senior Adults Focus Group

This is the group that met recently @ HQ to discuss ministry to senior adults. Left to right: Dr. Robert McIntyre, Dr. Ron Brannon, Jerry Brecheisen, Irma Bryan, Bill Bryan, me.

Friday, October 21

Young Adult Ministry

O.K. Dr. Barnes, I can finally say that I have been to the campus of Indiana Wesleyan University! I made my first trek to the beautiful campus in Marion on Wednesday. The purpose of my trip was to meet with a student focus group and a staff focus group on Young Adult Ministry. I was also able to take in a chapel service with a challenging message by the Chapel Dean, Steve Lennox.

If you are wondering what the Wesleyan Church is doing to minister to young adults, you cannot overlook the ministry that is taking place on our campuses. IWU alone will take 44 short term missions trips this year with their students!

Questions we were asking are:
How can we keep more young adults in our local churches. ( If a student attends one of our colleges they are more likely to stay connected to a Wesleyan church after college )
How can we prepare more young adults to lead local young adult ministry in their churches?
What can Head Quarters do to encourage more of our churches to reach out to young adults and provide meaningful ministry opportunities?

Are young adults staying in your church or leaving? Are you attracting any new young adults? Why or why not?

Senior Adult Ministry

This past Tuesday I hosted a Think Tank for Senior Adult Ministry for the Wesleyan Church. We looked at the origins of "Best Years Fellowship", where it is at today and where it needs to head in the future. The conversation was spirited, thoughtful and full of hope for the future of this vital area of ministry.

One thing that no one could ignore is the vast opportunity that we have in ministering to senior adults. Too often churches are carving their worship and programs around a younger generation with a "take it or leave attitude". Wise churches will find creative ways of reaching younger generations without alienating those who are 50+.

What to expect: Resources and ideas that will encourage every district and every church to have a ministry for senior adults that goes beyond fellowship and reaches out to their community and beyond.

What do you think about Senior ADult Ministry? Does your church have one? What do you think HQ can do for seniors?

Monday, October 17

Pastor Rod

Sorry for the blurred picture...I think I must have had too much caffeine! The picture was taken with my iPAQ 3700.

Pastor Rod was our children's pastor in Moncton. He was in town for "The Huddle", a children's workers conference sponsored by the Department of Childrens Ministry of the Wesleyan Church.

It was great to have pastor Rod stay with us in the Princess Suite ( Autumn's room ). He says he slept great even with Tinker Belle and Ariel watching over him!
The Huddle was a great success. It was pretty neat to see the energy of these pastors and volunteers and to sense their passion for kids. Was your church here? Did they know about it? What is your church doing to support, train and resource those who are leading our kids to be more like Christ?

Tuesday, October 11

Psalm 46

Earthquakes. Floods. War. Famine. These things have been happening for centuries. Still, it can sometimes feel as though there is an 'extra' amount of suffering going on in the world. As I write this, all of these things are very real in our world at this moment.

I was reminded today of Psalm 46, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the sea..." So how do we watch the news or read the paper and not be afraid? I think part of our answer is in the Psalmist's words:
  • God is our refuge...we can take shelter in the shadow of the Almighty. He is our shield.
  • God is our strength...some things are just humanly impossible. That's why we pray for His strength. "Little ones to him belong, they are weak but he is strong".
  • An ever present help...where is God when the worst happens? He is there with us to help us.
  • In trouble...there will always be trouble and there will always be the promise that "God will never leave us or forsake us".

Take a few minutes today to pray for those who are suffering. Reflect on any 'trouble' that you have encountered. Was God with you? Were his promises true?

Friday, October 7

Heaven Week

For the past few years the Wesleyan Church has designated a week in the early fall as "Heaven Week". The concept is pretty simple: encourage every class, group and ministry, including the primary worship services, to give a clear presentation and invitation of the gospel.

We are in "Heaven Week" right now as a denomination. October 2 - 9

Although many of our churches don't take advantage of this promotion, we still have many hundreds of churches that do. Those who do Heaven Week will report of hundreds, maybe thousands of people accepting Christ as their Savior across the US and Canada. Many worshippers and teachers find heaven week the perfect opportunity to invite a friend, co-worker or relative to church. Like any program, it's not perfect. But, it will introduce a lot of people to salvation.

What do you think of Heaven Week? Do you have a better idea? Does your church participate?

Thursday, October 6

No Perfect People Allowed

Pastor John Burke was one of the plenary speakers @ the Willow Creek Small Group Conference a few weeks ago. The title of his message was "Shaped in the Chaos". He was merging ideas from his new book, "No Perfect People Allowed" with thoughts on community and healing through small groups.

Here are a few key thoughts from his message:
A messy group is normal
Your small group has healing potential
God is in the chaos
Humans hate cleaning up messes
Jesus' ministry was messy
Small Groups can offer:
A culture of grace, giving and acceptance
A culture of Acceptance
A culture of Authenticity

One last thought from John Burke, "Come as you are, but don't stay that way!"

What do you think? Have you read this book? Are your groups safe places for messy people?

Monday, October 3

Teacher Training Events

This past weekend I was in Western Pennsylvania ( Clearfield - Hyde) doing a Sunday School - Small Group Teacher Training Event: Teaching for Spiritual Transformation. This was the first such event they had done in many years so we were all pleased with the 75 people in attendance. I feel that anytime you can bring leaders together for learning, interaction and discussion it's a valuable experience. We discussed our Department's model for Spiritual Formation, emerging trends and changes to the way Sunday school is being done, and a variety of ideas to bring new life to your group ministry.

Are you a Sunday School teacher or small group leader?
Does your church or District provide you with learning opportunities?

Wednesday, September 28

Larry Crabb at Willow

Last week's Small Group Conference at Willow Creek opened with a message from Larry Crabb. The theme of his message was "Spiritual Formation In Small Groups". It was an excellent presentation on how God uses community in the small group setting to literally transform people's lives. Here are a few highlights from Dr. Crabb:
Nothing matters more than followers of Jesus becoming like Jesus.
We cannot change on our own. Real change requires community.
Group Commitments:
1. What are we after?
2. How do we get there?
3. What do we do?
Intentional Spiritual Formation Groups:
1. Aim high
2. Get real
3. Live the vision

There is obviously a lot more content than I can share in a blog posting. I recommend you go to and order the CD of that session. One last quote from Larry Crabb, "Every person desires what only grace can provide". What are your thoughts?

Branson BYF Retreat

This is a photo of the Best Year's Fellowship group that gathered in Branson in September 05. It was a terrific retreat!

Thursday, September 22

A Word from Willow Creek

It's 8:30 a.m. here in South Barrington, Illinois. The cafe area that I'm sitting in is crammed with people who have come for Willow Creek's Small Group Conference. Most of us are enjoying the free wi-fi and a cup of really hot, really good coffee! I arrived last evening in time to enjoy their Wednesday night service: New Community. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Willow model, their weekend services are purely targeted at seekers and their mid-week service is primarily for believers. The new facility that houses their 7000 seat worship center is impressive to say the least. Glass, water, stone, wood, escalators...beautiful! There were probably close to 5000 in worship last evening.

This morning, as I get my brain in gear for small group ministry and I as I watch literally thousands of Pastors and small group leaders begin to network and discuss small groups, I am reminded that small group ministry is not a fad or a program. It is biblical and it is community in the truest sense. What do you think of that word 'community' as you think of the church? How do the people in your church experience community or do they at all?

Wednesday, September 14

Ministry to Senior Adults

This past weekend I was the guest speaker for a Senior's ( Best Years Fellowship ) Retreat near Branson, Missouri. It was an excellent event and an enriching experience for all involved. The location was pristine with a view that literally stopped you and held you. Overlooking the Ozarks and Lake Table Rock certainly made a conducive environment for spending time with God.

The retreat was well organized with a mix of entertainment, worship and free time. We even had an exclusive concert with Dino which the Seniors thoroughly enjoyed. Ministry to Seniors is one area that I am responsible for in the Wesleyan Church. I'd love to hear your thoughts on Seniors Ministry. Does your church have one? How often do they meet? What types of groups or events do they have? What resources are you reading or using? What have you learned about ministering to senior adults? What types of new ideas would you like to see?

You can access some of our ideas and resources for seniors by going to

Thursday, September 8

What Are You Reading?

When you stop reading, you stop learning. Those who fail to read fail to have anything new to say. Sometimes I read to study, sometimes I read to relax, and sometimes I read simply to generate my own creativity. I enjoy asking others what they have been reading and I'm often asked what I am reading. If you can, look up some leaders you respect and find out what they are reading.

This summer I read "The Barbarian Way" by Erwin McManus and a pre-release copy of George Barna's latest, "Revolution". I just finished a book on Small Group Ministry by Andy Stanley and Bill Willits ( more Bill than Andy ), "Creating Community". It is essentially a book on how they have gotten more than 7000 involved in their small groups. My next cover to crack is on a book titled "Bowling Alone". Someone on an airplane this summer told me about it.

So what are you reading? Use the comments link below and share with others the books that you have found to be helpful.

Thursday, September 1


Every Wednesday morning our staff gets together for a devotional time we call Anchor. Yesterday we talked openly about the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina in the South. Why do disasters happen? Could it be sent from God? Is it just a natural disaster or is it a super-natural disaster. As I watch the reports from the flood I see two types of people: those who are thankful to God, despite the carnage, and those who wonder how there could be a God, because of the carnage. There are many 'flood' texts in the Bible affecting both the just and the unjust. Two that we looked at in our Anchor time yesterday were Isaiah 25 and Psalm 46. Both of these passages call us to revere and trust in God "though the earth give way".

Pray. Give. Do all you can for the survivors of Katrina. As you pray, reflect on the power and of the love of our great and awesome God.

Do you have any comments on trusting God when life doesn't make sense?

Wednesday, August 24


This is the Ferry approaching Swallow Tail Lighthouse, Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick, Canada. Grand Manan is where I was born and where many of my family live. It's a small island with a population of around 3000 in the Bay of Fundy. My spiritual roots are there as well. Grand Manan is home to 3 Wesleyan Churches and at least another 10 churches of other denominations. The sea, the beaches, the wildlife and the views make it one of the world's special places.

Friday, August 19


Transitioning is an interesting term. When you think about, simply moving through life requires a lot of transitioning. We make adjustments all the time in the way we do things. We get smarter...we see things differently...we learn and we adjust. Why then is it so hard for a traditional church to 'transition'?

Lately I've been looking at some churches that are transitioning from their familiar Sunday School program to a more agressive ministry of small groups. They're not dropping Sunday School, but they are giving it a face lift and at the same time blending it with an offering of home groups, affinity groups and other creative gatherings. Some churches have re-launched their discipleship efforts with a new name, structure, purpose and goals.

Is your church transitioning? Are you looking for ways to improve the process of spiritual formation? Are you moving from just Sunday School to include more small groups? Have you done a complete overhaul of your discipleship programs? Do you need one?

Monday, August 15

Spiritual Retreats

This past weekend our Department, the Spiritual Formation Department of the Wesleyan Church, took a three day retreat at a wilderness resort in Ohio. It was a family retreat - encouraging us to spend time in family activities. Along with swimming, horse back riding and boating together, we wrapped up the weekend with our own chapel service by the lake and sharing communion together as a family.

What are your thoughts on Retreats ( some call them Advances rather than Retreats )? Do we do it enough? Have you been involved in any type of creative retreat?

We're working on the concept of a Weekend Retreat that would be an intense spiritual boost. We would spend time in worship, reflection, confession, meditation, teaching, etc. If anyone has been on a Jesus Walk or Emmaeus Walk Retreat or anything like that, I'd love to hear about your experience. Do you think the concept is needed in our churches? Districts?


Wednesday, August 10

For some of you, this won't mean anything, and to others it will bring a smile. This is the old farm house that Gayla's father grew up in. It is also the site of our annual "Cousin's Camp". Every June the family comes together with all of the children and we have camp. We do all the 'camp' activities like games, crafts, swimming, devotions, etc. What makes Cousin's Camp special is that the children learn about their Christian heritage and of the prayer and faith that has gone before them. If you have other Cousin's Camp pictures that you would like for me to post for all to see, send them to

Spiritual Formation

I just got back in the office after 6 weeks of visiting District Conferences of the Wesleyan Church around the States ( we have 33 Districts in North America ). It was a fascinating experience to see the diversity of our people and our churches. One of my objectives was to talk to people about what they believe is important in the process of Spiritual Formation. We're seeing a shift in our denomination fromt the traditional Sunday School models to offering more small group options and other creative forms of discipleship. Is Sunday School working in your area? Are small groups working? What are people doing to become more like Christ?

Tuesday, July 12

Welcome to G'update

G'update has arrived!
My name is Tim Guptill. I am the Director of Adult Ministries for the Spiritual Formation Department of The Wesleyan Church. I have served in Pastoral Ministry for the past 13 years. Most recently I served as the Pastor of Community and Connection at the Moncton Wesleyan Church. I'm a graduate of Bethany Bible College. I enjoy writing, golf, Volvo's and family time with my wife Gayla and two daughters, Hope ( 8 ) and Autumn ( 5 ).