Thursday, December 21


I have to admit, I really enjoy a good ministry magazine. John Freed and I were traveling together up to Marion for a Theology class and we got discussing which magazines we order for ministry.

This is what I am currently getting:
Christianity Today
Discipleship Journal
Leading Adults
Christian Single
Mature Living

Before you start adding up the costs...some of these come from Lifeway and cost us very little. A couple of these we receive as a department and share.

How could I forget Wesleyan Life and Global Partners??

Magazines I get at home:
Car and Driver
Sports Illustrated

"When you stop reading you stop having anything new to say".

2 Conferences and a Link

What conferences are att he very top of your list for 2007? What ones did you attend in '06? Were they good, bad or ugly?

I have attended Fellowship Church's "Creative Church Conference" twice, and it has blown me away...twice! Last year the Director's of SFD went together. This year I will be there with the Adult Ministries Cabinet. (Robin Ritchie, Jay Guptill, Joel Heron and Dawn Marie Colaw). If you are planning to attend, let us know as we would like to host a dinner for all Wesleyan's at the event. (it's in late February, you can maximize your travel costs by visiting many mega churches in the Dallas-Fort Worth area)

One that I came across yesterday while doing some research for one of our Young Adult Pastors: In the "Catalyst" genre, this one looks like a high-octane, high energy, emergent deal for the 40 and under crowd or 40+ wannabes.

Group has a brand new site dedicated to small group ministry. You should be able to remember this link:

Wednesday, December 20

Christmas Spiritual Formation

Why did God send His 'Firstborn of All Creation' to live among us?

Did God think, "This will be really good marketing for big-box department store sales"?

Did he come so that we would have a reason to decorate and bake and share in "white elephant gift exchanges"?

I'm thinking that Jesus came so that we could know God, serve God, and be more like God.

The Advent season is meant to be a spiritual reference point that draws us back to the true meaning of God sending Emmanuel. How are you being spiritually changed, renewed, transformed these days? What affect is the Baby having on your life? How are you different today than you were yesterday? This year compared with a year ago?

In the Spiritual Formation Department we speak about a person following Christ with their Head, their Heart, their Hands and their Habits. Take a minute to reflect on those.

This year, don't make resolutions...make restitution. Seek grace. Seek mercy. Seek forgiveness. Seek the Fruit of His Spirit and be transformed!


Friday, December 15

Christmas Perspective

I'm sitting in a theology class this week @ Indiana Wesleyan University with Dr. Chris Bounds. The class is fantastic and I may blog more about it later, but I wanted to put this one thought from Dr. Bounds up for you to think about:

From God’s perspective, Christmas is all about us
From our perspective, Christmas is all about God

Wednesday, December 6

Group's Bible Sense Series

O.K. Here is your recommended resource for today: Group's Bible Sense Series

If you are tired of the same old small group study resource, you need to take a look at this stuff from Group. It is very interactive and written with a lot of fresh thinking. Every book comes with a DVD attached to the back cover that is used in the study. The whole series is designed to engage your thinking on a lot of levels.

As I read through it I was particularly wondering if I could picture the typical Wesleyan Adult Sunday School class going through this, and I could. Yeah, you probably would have to modify a few of the 'interactive elements' for the crankies in the back of the room who don't want to do anything. The rest of the crowd will love it.

(I tried to upload a picture of the series, but it is encoded in such a way that Blogger won't upload it...just go to and click on Adult Bible Studies)

Can Willow Change?

I have to admit, when I saw this title on the "Defining Moments" CD that I received from Willow Creek yesterday my first reaction was, "Who cares?" Not that I don't want to see them have continued growth and success, I just felt like they are big and strong enough to conquer anything. It's the little guy in the middle of some small town that I wonder about.

Regardless, I popped the CD in and listened to Gene Appel and Hybels discuss the challenges they have been facing. One of the many things I found interesting on this recording was that Willow is growing older. Their average age has jumped from 38 to 48 and is climbing every year. They are reaching more and more Boomers, they are all collectively growing older (obvious) and they are not getting a lot of Gen X and Y to attend their weekend services. Interesting.

If you know me, you know that I love change. Probably a little too much.

What about your church? Can it change? Does it need to? Is it growing older? Is it reaching new generations?

Tuesday, December 5

Harry F. Avery

Legacy. Everbody leaves one but not all of them are worth following. Will yours be?

Last week I traveled to New Brunswick to be with family and to celebrate the life of my Grandfather, Harry Avery "Pa". Pa was 88 when he passed away.

A rarity, Pa accepted Christ when he was 62. His was a radical transformation. Drop all sin, start studying God's Word, and share Christ at every opportunity. If you met him he would stretch out his hand and say, "Praise the Lord". Your response would tell him how he needed to approach the conversation!

He never had a driver's license. He was a self-employed carpenter. He left behind his wife of 62 years (she's 92 and probably at mid-life!) He was a man who fell in love with Jesus and never looked back.

Tuesday, November 21

What I'm Reading

One of the first questions I ask of other leaders is, "What are you reading". My District Superintendent up in Atlantic Canada, HC Wilson, makes his reading list available so that others can get in on some very valuable resources. The last time I was at a Willow Creek Conference, Bill Hybels and others printed their reading lists for us.

Not that I am assuming that anyone out there really cares what Tim is reading, but these thoughts may spur you a little bit to look into some new titles, ask other leaders what they are reading, and stay as sharp as you can.

"The Present Future" by Reggie McNeal - this is a re-read for me. Rich Moorlach from WIF was so excited about this book that I decided to pick it up again. It's a must read for anyone who gives a rip at all about the church.

"How to Start a New Service" by Charles (Chip) Arn - I met Chip out in California recently and his book is one of the required texts in the master's class I'm currently taking. Written way back in '97 ;-) This book is still filled with relevant ideas. Think about it: Your church can probably reach new people simply by starting a new service.

"Simple Church" by Thom Rainer - Another must read

"The Rhythm of Prayer" by Mark Moore - A solid book by a solid guy with a creative edge

Free Starbucks

Maybe there is a Santa...
This morning as we arrived to work there was a Starbucks Van setting up right on the front step @ HQ. The Starbucks "Cheer Patrol" served free Christmas Blend, Gingerbread Lattes, and Peppermint Hot Chocolate for an hour! And, they are coming back this afternoon.
I've had two cups of Christmas and a sample of the hot chocolate. The caffeine has affected my hand writing, but hey, I'm typing way faster than I usually do!

Thursday, November 16

Senior Adult Ministry Conference

Last week I had to leave the cold gray Indiana rain to attend a two day conference on Senior Adults in sunny L.A. (I'm sure you feel really bad for me!)

I've been doing a lot of generational study lately. My Masters class right now is on building a multi-generational church, and as the Director responsible for Seniors in our denomination, I am always looking for new knowledge and ideas.

I've bulleted some of the highlights from some of the sessions for those of you who are also on the constant look out for ideas:

- Don’t group all of your ‘seniors’ in one 50+ pile. They may have 40 years of life left, and 40 years is too broad a span to place everyone in.
- Boomer-specific ministry is the cutting edge.
- Don’t even use the word ‘seniors’, it carries too many negative connotations
- There are 2 states where everyone is a minority, New Mexico and Hawaii. By 2050 it will be every state
- “If you are 40+ you are an immigrant in today’s culture. If you are -40 you are a national.” Len Sweet
- If you are trying to have a ministry that appeals to everyone you will end up with a ministry that appeals to no one. (the speaker was taking a swing at blended worship)
- People want options, provide as many as possible
- One church refers to their boomers, builders, and seniors as the “Go Go’s, the Slow Go’s and the No Go’s”
- Getting people involved in ministry is about growing people in Christ, not filling slots
- Dr. James L. Knapp, Professor of Sociology at Oklahoma State University gave a seminar on “Understanding the Generations”. Knapp says you need at least three living generations; one to connect with history, one to be relevant, and one to look forward. He used a continuum to show each church how they can evaluate their current generational effectiveness. “It’s important to be connected to your heritage but not controlled by it”.
- Many speakers touched on “blending the generations”. This came across as an emerging study that no one was really sure how to approach. The speakers noted its necessity and then apologized for not having enough data yet to effectively communicate a strategy for it.
- Charles (Chip) Arn also gave an excellent presentation on, “Issues and Challenges for Bonding the Generations”. Arn suggests that inter-generational bonding should not be our priority but rather the product of our priority. He quoted McGavran, “There is only one essential thing the church must do…and that is the priority of Jesus (Luke 19:10) to seek and save the lost.” That said, Arn agreed that inter-generational bonding can happen through common age, marital status, family status, interests, concerns, and ethnicity. ***Here is a key thought from Arn that was also supported by many other speakers: Ministry-based Outreach is the most successful way to connect people, to reach people, to get people involved, and to reflect the heart of Jesus.

Tuesday, November 14

Florida Holynext

I should have blogged this a long time ago, but I was waiting for the pictures of the event to arrive in Indiana. Why would it take so long in this digital age for pictures to travel from Florida to Indiana? Simple, I left the digital camera in a golf bag that I had borrowed while I was there!
Thanks to Patty David for inviting me to come to Florida, for organizing and promoting Holynext, and for sending lost digital cameras back to Indiana.

Once again, people gathered for a dedicated time of listening to God, surrendering every area of our lives, confessing all, worshiping and praying with completely focused hearts. For those who were there, Holynext was a powerful experience!

Special thanks too to Pastor Mark James and the wonderful group of volunteers at Christ Community Church. Beautiful sanctuary! Side note: Pastor Mark really knows how to serve a guest a huge bowl of ice cream! ;>

Friday, November 3

Dealing with Distraction

I'm out of the office this morning. I'm not out of town, just out of the office. Every once in awhile I need a change of scenery to help me get creative and work on some of my larger projects.

My place of choice today? Panera Bread. If you don't have a Panera in your part of the world you are at a loss! Free Wi-Fi, refillable coffee, and a cinnamon crunch bagel that is over the top.

In an earlier post I mentioned the book, "Getting Things Done" by David Allen. (Get and read this book!) I recently came across a great article at his site on the subject of dealing with distractions. Though I am far from perfect, I have attempted many of these principles and my life is measurably more organized because of them. Here is the link to the article, check it out if you find yourself bouncing from one demand to another without the level of productivity you really want:

Thursday, October 26

"The Rhythm of Prayer", by Mark Moore

Mark Moore and WPH are getting ready to launch a brand new "40 Day Experience" titled, "The Rhythm of Prayer"

I have seen some of the advance material and it is looking like an excellent/useful resource for discipleship, small groups, Sunday School, personal study, etc.

Mark moved to Indiana from San Diego (who does that???) where he was on staff in the youth ministry at Skyline Wesleyan Church. He's now an editor with WPH.

He's a coffee drinker, which instantly makes him a friend, and his office is where I usually drift to when I need a 3 p.m. sanity break. Watch for the release and give this one a try. I think you'll like it.

Tuesday, October 24

The Movement Continues

I know that Keith Drury, David Keith and others have shared their stories on creating a youth ministry movement in the Wesleyan Church, but it still fascinates me. I was reminded again last week of just how strong our denomination is in youth ministry. Scott Simmons, the Dir of Youth, had 200 youth pastors from across the Wesleyan Church in for FUEL - the annual train/network/chill/ event for people who love throwing themselves into the lives of anyone 12-18.

Back in September I had the opportunity to just sit with David Keith and listen to some of the ways God used him and others to create a movement. Powerful stuff. I could listen to people like that all day.

What do you think about 'creating a movement in the Wesleyan Church'? Can it be done in something like Discipleship? Senior Adults? Is it merely a God-thing or are there things that we can do to construct a movement?

Wednesday, October 18

Another Church Launches Small Groups

There are many in the post-modern-mega-Willow-Saddle-church world (just coined a new phrase) who would find it hard to believe that we still have churches who are just starting to try small group ministry. Yes, Chicago, its true ;-> To those of you in the trenches helping your churches explore new ways of reaching deeper levels of community (authentic relationships & discipleship) here is another example of a successful small group ministry launch.

Pastor: Rick Haworth
Church: Mentone Community, Mentone Alabama

Rick shared this in our Master's course and gave me permission to post it:

The message ? MCC took a evaluation from NCS and found our minimum factor was Building loving relationships and Empowering leadership. After meeting with a consultant and speaking with our leadership we believed that we could work on these two things through small groups. So this is the message, empowering leaders and building loving relationships. The main focus would be the relationship building.
I selected 8 key couples in the church and spent time sharing with them the core competences of MCC small group ministry.

The Launch: We used the worship folder to announce that Small Groups were coming in the fall. We used the announcement segment of our worship hour on Sunday AM, (We also used skits and sermons). Finally we used our annual Ministry Fair as a time of sign-up. We had the leaders there and advertising their group.

Post Launch: So far the only thing we are doing here is assigning each of the four new groups a time to serve as Sunday AM greeters. They are also responsible to get visitor info and send a note to new visitors. This still needs some work.

Sustaining the change: There are scheduled meetings with the leaders to debrief about their small group meetings. This is a time for questions, ideas and insights gained on how we can improve or so better with some things. Do we need to add more groups etc.

Friday, October 13

Disciple Groups

Here is the new logo for "Disciple Groups" - a huge component of the Adult Ministry division of the Wesleyan Church. Disciple Groups is an umbrella for Sunday School ministries and Small Groups. The line that we use to describe Disciple Groups is: "Making Disciples of Jesus through Sunday School and Small Groups".

We're not hung up on when your groups meet or what title you use to describe the ministry. the question is, "What are you doing/offering to help people become more like Jesus Christ?"

So, what ARE you doing?

Monday, September 25

If My Office Was On Fire!

You probably have a few resources that you have come across in ministry that have been almost priceless to you. Think about them for a minute. You might even want to make a list. There probably will be a few names on the list, maybe a conversation or two that radically changed everything for you. Here's the question: if your office was on fire and you could only grab 3 books (besides your Bible), what 3 would you grab? Yes, you've already grabbed the picture of the family, your diploma and your ordination certificate...but beyond that what would you grab?

Of course, if my office was on fire that would mean that HQ was on fire and that would mean that your USF would be going up! Moving right along...

I'm only going to mention one of those books right now because I don't want to sidetrack you with the other titles. "Getting Things Done" by David Allen. Seriously, this book has literally impacted everything I do. I might unpack more of its contents in future postings, but let me try to sum it up in a few words for now: lower your stress, clear your mind, know where everything is, stay on top of all your to-do's, handle paper once, keeping your Inbox under control, clearing free space in your mind and work day for more creativity and productivity, etc.

If you've read the book, you know the system and you are nodding in agreement. If you haven't read it yet, there are probably people in your world who are hoping you will read it ;->

I'd love to know if you have read it or are going to. What do you think?

Friday, September 22

An Excellent Resource on Community

I review a lot of materials and every once in awhile I come across something that has an edge over everything else I have been looking at:

"Group's Body-Building Guide to Community" - strengthening relationships in your church, probably $12-15.

From the back cover, "Here are 15 ways to encourage deep, lasting friendships in your church. Friendships that move past discussing the weather. Friendships that become biblical community."

What Group has done is compiled 15 ideas from 15 different churches that are working right now to help those churches achieve community. As I was reading them, I was thinking "this is practical, usable stuff that any church can use right now." These aren't ideas that will take you 12 months to get off the ground. These ideas are doable now, or at least sooner than later.

(Group should be paying me for reviews like this!!) Enjoy.

Thursday, September 21

Silver Dolar City

Branson, Missouri is actually quite pretty and has tons of things to do. The major problem is the traffic. Go figure, the founding fathers (or mothers) of that little town didn't picture 13 million annual visitors. We did have a great time though!

Is your church ready to handle a sudden influx of visitors? Are you ready to handle traffic?

Tuesday, September 19

Personal Change Survey

They say (whoever 'they' are) that the only one who likes change is a wet baby. Actually, I kind of like change. I enjoy seeing new development spring up around our community. I love trying new coffee. I even enjoy it when, gasp, they introduce new music in church!

I recently went through a personal change survey and I'm going to recommend that you do it as well. After you see the questions and realize that this is going to require some vulnerability on your part, you will likely cringe. At first you will think that you would rather bath a cat or chew on tin foil. I felt the same way. But, after I had sent out the request, I started to look forward to the responses because I realized that the only way I can improve on my blind spots and weaknesses is if I listen to those who know me best and want the best for me.

Here's the deal: Find one person who will 'catch, organize, and deliver' the responses to you. Send an email request to at least 10 people asking them to take about 5 minutes to answer these two questions about you and then email their responses to the person you have chosen. Your person will compile it into one document that they will then email back to you and Voila! you have your personal change survey.

Here are the questions:

What is the single most important change this person could make in themselves to be more effective as a ministry leader?

Leading Change
What is the most important thing this person could do better at when leading change in this ministry?

Friday, September 1

Indiana Beach

The two old guys...
Hope Guptill, Riley Wright ( back ) Emily Wrigth and Autumn Guptill ( front )


There is actually more to Indiana than corn and soy bean fields! Amazing. My kids were pleasantly surprised to know that if you drive far enough north and far enough west in Indiana you will reach the Indiana Dunes on the shore of Lake Michigan. ( Besides the beach, best perk #2 would have to be the Krispy Kreme restaurant in Lafayette - Exit 172 is permanently drilled into my memory! )

Alan Wright is the Assitant Pastor at the New Life Wesleyan Church in Chesterton, IN. Al is currently in the thick of leading his church through the Sunday School - Small Group transition. I had the privilege of preaching in the two morning services and then leading a small group leaders training session after lunch ( thanks again for that chocolate cake! ) This church is a small group lab of sorts for anyone who would like to offer more opportunities for transformation in their church. It's not that we are trying to do away with Sunday School. What we all want to accomplish is changed lives.

I was really impressed with the quality of his leaders and their desire to see everyone enter into authentic relationships and community. Way to go Al! Lead on!

Do you have a similar story? Where is your church in this transition?

Last word: Yes, I have been working extra hard in the gym this week to combat the donuts and cake ;->

Wednesday, August 16

3 Trends Affecting Sunday School

I caught this article this week over at ( Don't tell anyone that I surf Baptist websites!! ) :-0

Here are the three trends cited by the author, Dawn Cornelius:

1. Postmoderns -- Dawn is saying that we need to take a missionary approach to postmoderns if we ever hope to influence them through ministries like Sunday School. We cannot ignore the postmodern mindset or hope that it will go away. Churches that want to make a difference will seek to understand postmoderns and how to engage them spiritually.

2. Technology -- Yeah, we've been saying this for years...and I am constantly amazed at the archaic resources we use in Sunday School. It's as if the rest of the world is flying a jumbo jet and Sunday School is coming down the road on a beat up bicycle. Dawn mentions podcasting as an example of a new technology that can easily be leveraged for the benefit of your Sunday School.

3. Community -- the buzzword of this decade in terms of how people will most likely be discipled. Look at your Sunday School and ask, "Are we creating safe environments of community where people can do life together?" Maybe you aren't sure what we mean by community. Here's a tip: If your classes are still a bunch of chairs aimed at a teacher who prepares 2 hours of material to deliver in 1 probably are not achieving community!

There's the 3. What do you think? What other trends do you see? How have these affected your Sunday School or group ministry?

Friday, August 4

Spring Life

The pics below are the front and back of a postcard mailing that went out to every Wesleyan Church this summer. SpringLife is a joint effort of the Spiritual Formation Department and the Department of Evangelism and Church Growth. The idea is to take the best of the former Heaven Week ( SFD ) and 40 Days of Prayer and Fasting ( E&CG ) programs and create a new emphasis for the Lent - Easter season. SpringLife will be full of helpful ideas and resources for leading your church into a season of relational evangelism and effective discipleship ( invite people to church, present the gospel, follow up with discipleship ). This FREE resource will be available in early 2007.

Your thoughts??

Spring Life

Thursday, July 27

Summer Reading

If you are going to lead then you have to read. Readers are learners. When you stop reading you stop having anything new to say.

Outside of my required reading for my Masters program, here are a couple of ministry books that I've been into this summer: I finished "Leading from the Second Chair" - a book about being the best 2nd level leader you can be for your organization; now I am into "Simple Church" by Thom Rainer. The subtitle on this one is, "returning to God's process for making disciples".

Reviews: Second chair was a decent read although I found myself skimming and looking for the real meat of the issue a few times. I would say it is a recommended read for anyone who feels like they will always be an assistant to someone or for anyone who struggles with following someone elses vision, etc. Simple Church is actually very good. As usual, Rainer has done gobs of research and has found that churches that do less are more effective for the kingdom than program heavy churches. I recommend it for pretty much everyone. It would be a good book to go through with a church board.

What are you reading?

Monday, July 24

Summer Ministry

The dog days of summer! Unfortunately we let a lot of our ministries go to the dogs during the summer! I agree that it's good to give people a rest and that most events ( other than grilling and pool parties ) don't get great attendance in the summer. There are some churches though that try to make the most of the summer months and offer some creative connecting opportunities for people. Rich Avery, ( one of my adult ministry cabinet members ) from the Kentwood Community Church, gave his small group leaders the opportunity of a "Neighborhood Block Party in a Bag". Leaders picked up their 'bag of goodies' at the church, registered their neighborhood and then hosted the party at their house. This is a great example of helping your congregation use the summer to build relationships with the pre-churched.

How about where you are? Are you doing anything interesting this summer that we could share with others? Hit the comment button and let me know.

Sunday, July 2

Off to Beulah Camp

Beulah Camp is one of three camps operated by the Atlantic District of the Wesleyan Church. If you have never been to Beulah, but know someone who has, you are probably tired of hearing about it. If you have been there, then you know what we mean! I'll be there for the next two weeks!

Tuesday, June 27

40 Days of Prayer & Fasting & Heaven Week

So you'll know where I'm coming from, when I was a Sr. Pastor of a Wesleyan church I always looked forward to the annual mailing from the department of Evangelism and Church Growth on "40 Days of Prayer & Fasting". I thought that it was a well laid out lent emphasis that could assist my congregation in focusing on spiritual disciplines with practical applications.

Have you used the program? Did you like it? Why or why not?

Same with Heaven Week ( Remember when it was 'Salvation Sunday'? ) I used Heaven Week to get everyone on the same page - "let's pray and plan and prepare...and see how many people will come to Christ during Heaven Week". Sure, we did a lot of other stuff during the year too, and yeah, I've heard a thousand people say heaven week should be every week ( most of them haven't seen a conversion or baptism in years! )

Did you use Heaven Week? Why or why not?

Where's this going? Glad you asked! Evangelism and Church Growth and the Spiritual Formation Department are working together on a brand new emphasis that would bring the best of both of the above mentioned programs together in one lent-Easter-Spring package.

I'd love to hear from you if you have any thoughts on either of these, what you would like to see in a new program, and what would be helpful to your church especially during lent or in leading people to Christ/inviting people to church.

Wednesday, June 21

Family pics

A very focused Hope ( our almost 10 year old ) at Chuckie Cheese
This is Autumn's 6th Birthday party at, where else, Build A Bear!!
This is Autumn ( our 6 year old ) and her cousin Chanika

Time to put up some pics

Great friends! Renee with new baby Kaylee and Dale with Kolin.

Monday, June 19

Developing a Discipleship Strategy

Would you rather have a bad strategy or no strategy at all? There is no perfect strategy to discipleship and any strategy needs to be tailored to a specific church, it's needs, and the people who are in need of discipleship. Too often I see churches that would like to see people become more like Christ but they won't take the time or effort to sit down and ask, "What does that look like in our context?" Here is a simple discipleship strategy ( not original ). What do you think? Will it work? Do you have a strategy?

1 Establish the pastor as the primary discipleship leader
2 Organize a discipleship leadership team.
3 Know the purpose of discipleship and use that purpose to create a
vision statement for discipleship in your church.
4 Determine the specific spiritual disciplines that will form the
foundation for the discipleship strategy.
5 Determine the people groups in your church and community in need
of discipleship.
6 Discover the discipleship/ministry needs of the identified people
7 Establish discipleship study approaches relevant to the needs of the
identified people groups.
8 Assimilate new church members into the life of the church.
9 Provide opportunities for disciples to develop leadership and ministry
10 Choose resources for disciples to study in a closed group setting.
11 Provide personal enrichment and devotional resources.
12 Guide all disciples to develop an annual spiritual growth plan and
create a process to track and evaluate the plan annually.
13 Communicate the vision and complete strategy to the church. Set a
date to launch the study element of the strategy and begin promotion.
14 Enlist and train leaders for your small group studies.
15 Launch the strategy.
16 Evaluate the plan regularly and make necessary adjustments to
improve effectiveness.

Stayin' Alive

Phew! Yes, I am still alive and yes, I'm still blogging. Where have I been? Let's see...Ottawa, Fredericton, the cottage at Beulah ( leaky roof :-( ) Saint John, Moncton, back to Indianapolis...

We loaded down our wagon -- Gayla swore that she would never own a wagon after all of her years as a child and teen being carted around in her father's station wagons -- with two large luggage bags on the roof, and just enough room in the back seat for our kids eyes to peek out once in awhile -- we drove from Indy to Ottawa 14 hours and then from Ottawa to the cottage 12 hours! The only thing that saves us is that our kids travel extremely well.

We were the car that you stare at on the interstate and think, "I'm glad I'm not those people..."

So if you haven't given up on this blog and you are checking in once in awhile, drop me a comment. Love to hear from ya.

Thursday, May 18

Preaching Dialogue

I am currently taking my masters in leadership from IWU. The course I am taking right now is the "Leadership of Preaching". One of my assigments is to create a dialogue tool for the weekly sermon. My idea is to create a sermon blog where people can discuss past sermons, current series and upcoming topics. Since I am without a preaching post, pulpit, soapbox or even a music stand, I am going to ask some of the group who took my all-day "Teaching for Transformation" in Zephyr Hills, Florida to visit this blog and comment accordingly.

If you are preaching every week, have you considered administering some type of communication tool with your congregation to get feed back and discussion on the sermon?

From the Florida District "Teaching for Transformation" Event:
1. Did you find the event to be helpful? Why or why not?
2. Was the written outline helpful?
3. Was the power point helpful?
4. Did I seem prepared?
5. Was I clear and easy to follow?
6. Was there enough time for discussion and questions?
7. What would you change about the presentation?
8. Have you applied anything from the event yet? What were the results?
9. What would you like to see covered in future events?
10. Anything else?

Thanks for your time and help!

Tuesday, May 16

Going Regional

The recent shift in Small Group Ministry has been to go to "Regional or Neighborhood Groups". Maybe some of you who have been at this a lot longer than I have would say, "That's not new, we did that 20 years ago..." The first big push I saw for this was at Willow's Small Group Conference last year. Rather than 'grouping their groups' by affinity, age, or topic, they were blocking off areas within their reach and placing a small groups pastor over that area. The next step is to let the people know what groups are meeting in their neighborhoods and how they can get connected.

When I was up to Grand Rapids last week I came across some software that churches are using to help them map thier congregations by regions and build their small group ministry accordingly: Moncton Wesleyan told me recently that they have gone with a similar software from a different company: "Connection Power". Another site you might want to look at is Frappr ( not a spelling error ) let's you place flags and identities on a virtual map. With the scroll of a mouse you can see where your people live and any key information that you or they enter.

What do you think??

Friday, May 12

Duh Vinci

You are either already tired of hearing about the DaVinci Code or you are excited about leveraging it for the kingdom. If you are in the second group you will be interested in this: The Willow Creek Association has released Lee Strobel's recent message on the DaVinci Code, delivered @ Willow. I heard Lee say today that it was the largest single attendance Willow has had since the grand opening of the new 7000 seat worship center.

Here is the link:

You might consider running this for your small groups, Sunday School classes, or even in your worship service. Think outside the pew. You have to be winsome to win some.


Wednesday, May 10

Great Lakes Small Groups Network

This past Monday I had the pleasure of attending a meeting of the Great Lakes Small Groups Network. I am sharing this for those of you who may be in that area, and for those of you who aren't you might consider forming something like this in your area. Essentially this is a group of small group/discipleship pastors in the West Michigan - Grand Rapids area. There were around 50 people gathered for lunch at the Kentwood Community Church.

There was directed small group discussion around our tables during the lunch time and then there was an open forum of discussion to a panel of small group pastors/workers. The theme of the day was, "Planning Your Fall Promotion".

Here's the deal: This was an excellent time of networking and idea sharing...Zondervan was there and each person went home with an arm load of was practical and relevant and useful. Could you form a network like this in your area? What do you think?

Thursday, May 4

Free Book

I came across this offer this morning, checked it out, and it is for real. This is a new book by Craig Groeschel, published by Multnomah. If you are a Pastor, go to to order one free copy of the book. Here is the blurb about the book from thier website: The offer is good until 6/1/06

Do you wake up each day motivated by knowing exactly why you were created? Guided by intention in every step? Enter: Chazown. Hebrew for “vision,” God wants to give His for you, and this book will reveal it! Living God’s dream will rock your world and align every area of your life, from your relationships to your finances and health.
Chazown is packed with storytelling graphics, in-your-face honesty, bite-sized chapterettes, step-by-step guidance, surprising self-assessments, and scarcely containable energy in a fast-paced style that will drive you forward with purpose! Craig Groeschel cowrote this book, but he’s waiting for his partner—you. Because only you can discover how the book ends and the rest of your life begins…

Monday, May 1

LeadPak Logos


For awhile now I have been working with WPH to provide a bundle of resources specific to an area of ministry for one low price. The result is what we call "LeadPaks". We have taken 5 or 6 books that we believe will be valuable resources for your ministry and we have put them together in one 'item' for purchase. If you are involved in Sunday School and Small Groups or Singles or Young Adults or Men's Ministry or Family and Marriage or Senior Adults...there is a LeadPak that you can order.

LeadPaks were created out of my desire to make it easy for people to get their hands on the best resources without spending hours searching all over the internet and bookstores. In a sense, we've created a shortcut for you to get the leadership tools you need. Also, if you ordered these books seperately they would cost you a lot more.

You can find the LeadPaks on our site I'd love to know what you think!

Tuesday, April 25

The Next Level of Networking

We have been making a lot of changes to our website There are a lot of resources and articles under each of the Adult Ministries, but something is still nagging at me. The website for Adult Min is very one-dimensional. There is a lot if 'information-sharing' going out from here, but there really is no forum for interaction, real time idea sharing and networking. Yeah, I get some surveys and emails sent back to me, but that isn't really the level of networking that I would love to see.

Last week I really got dreaming to find a way to create some type of quasi blog-chat environment for Adult Ministries where the Wesleyan Church can interact and discuss what is really going on in ministry today. A place where I can share the resources and ideas that I think might help and people can respond and dialogue with others about what is working or not working in their area. I'd also love to be able to capture short video clips ( training and resource sharing ) and post them in a way that people could view them and share them with others.

I'd love to hear your ideas on this, especially if you know of something similar to a blog where we can chat and discuss and everyone can see the posts and I can upload video.

Thursday, April 20

Small Group Covenants

I've been looking at some small group covenants today. My guess is that most small groups today do not covenant together ( even though the covenant is a very scriptural idea ). Covenenting is like setting the ground rules. It tells people up front that you are taking this group seriously and that the only way you will achieve biblical community is if everyone 'agrees' to adhere to the covenant. In a group without a covenant there is less accountability and less buy in/commitment to the other members of the group.

Google 'small group covenants' and you will get a smattering of resources that you could adapt to your situation. Usually a covenant will cover the logistics ( when, where, how often ), the disciplines ( attendance, safety, accountability, confidentiality, responsibility, etc ), and the purpose of the group. People sign the covenant and turn it in to the group leader. I think it would also be a good idea for each group member to receive a copy of the covenant they have signed.

What do you think about covenants? Do you use them? Should you?

Tuesday, April 18

An idea from DJ

If you don't already subscribe to Discipleship Journal, I highly recommend it. Here is an idea from the latest issue: "Grace After Dinner"

The concept is simply to invite non-Christian friends to your place for dinner - GRACE stands for G-good food, R-relaxed atmosphere, A-answers to questions about Jesus, C-Christ's plan of salvation explained, E-experience the difference that Jesus can make in your life.

Any similar ideas??

Friday, April 7

3 Great Looking Small Group Resources

I've been trying to catch up on a ton of new resources that have been sent to me this Spring. Many of them have been added to our website - under each department you will see resources - Here are 3 that I thought were especially good:

1. Great Beginnings - Your First Small Group Study; This is an excellent tool for new groups or if you are trying to tempt people into the small group experience. It's also a good tool for your new leaders to use as they are venturing into the brave new world of small group leadership.

2. Small Group Kickoff Retreat - Experiential Training for Group Leaders; This book is written in a small group study guide format. It's designed as something that you would give to everyone on the retreat and you would all go through it together. So it's kind of a mix of "how to do a retreat" and the actual retreat itself.

3. Making the Critical Connection - Combining the Best of Small Group Dynamics with Sunday School; This is a revised and updated reprint of Hal Mayers book, "Step by Step". It is a good read for anyone who is trying to transition their church from a traditional Sunday School format to Small Groups or a blend of both.

All 3 of these are from Enjoy!

Do you have any resources to recommend?

Wednesday, April 5

What's Next for Holynext?

The very first Holynext Retreat is officially in the books. If you haven't heard, around 80 people gathered in Fishers, IN on March 24 and 25 for this personal spiritual formation retreat. In the words of one attendee, "HolyNext… Not a conference, not a workshop. A “holy ground” experience…"

The victories, the testimonies and the very real presence of God convinces us that there is a hunger and a need for a set-apart experience where we can come clean with God and be transformed into His likeness. Now our task is to lead people across our denomination into the same experience that we have encountered. The vision for this retreat is that it would be happening many times a year all over our denomination in a variety of venues.

In the near future we will have a free download on the Spiritual Formation website that will include the Holynext 'recipe', all of the scriptures and set up materials, recommendations for worship, etc. Basically every component that we used here will be available as a download. It will also include a promo video from footage taken at the first Holynext. We need many who attended the launch event to host a Holynext Retreat in their regions. If you would like to know more about this retreat and how to make one happen for your church or district, PLEASE EMAIL ME @

Tuesday, April 4

it gives us a chance to get acquainted and let them know we enjoy life ... then we shoot them:)

How's that for a catchy title for a blog posting?! Did it get your interest? OK, let me explain. It's from an email I reeived from a church planting pastor in Florida. The church bought 6 acres of land and they worship in a garage that sits on that property. They also have found that many people in the area enjoy playing paint ball ( you're catching on ). So, after they worship together and show people how much they enjoy life...they use their property to play some paint ball.

Now I know that many of you have wished that you could shoot a few people from time to time but let me ask you this: what innovations are you using to reach people? What do your locals enjoy doing that you could incorporate into your programming as an easy way for others to invite friends? Do you have any creative small groups like this that you can recommend to the rest of us? I'd love to hear about them.

Thursday, March 23

Order of the Flame

Not sure if anyone has heard of the Methodist Conference: Order of the Flame. That's where I will be all of next week - St. Simons Island, Georgia. So my blogging will be suspended for a week or so.

Holynext happens tomorrow and Saturday! We are gearing up for the first spiritual formation retreat in the Wesleyan Church ( that we are aware of! )


FORM is an acronym used to represent 4 different categories of small groups within the local church. The concept is that a church would attempt to be balanced in each of the following 4 areas:
F = Family; linking people by the unique characteristics of their family structure

O = Occupation; linking people around their occupational commonalities

R = Recreation; using recreational habits to link people with similar interests

M = Ministry; linking people either by the ministry they need or by the ministry they are involved in.

What do you think? Is this helpful? Would something like this work in your church? Are you overloaded in any one particular area?

Tuesday, March 21

Just Another Day on the Farm

Last week my brother in law Barry and his son Craig and I traveled 5 hours from Indianapolis to Moline, Illinois - the home of John Deere. For a farmer, or any tractor enthusiast, Moline is mecca. There were more tractors than people! If you know me, you know that I am not a farmer ;-) But I can usually recognize a tractor when I see one! We spent 5 hours touring the enormous facility where they combine their combines ( harvesters ). It was impressive for sure.

Here are a couple of shots from our field trip:

Friday, March 10

Throw Another Blog on the Fire

Here are a couple of sharp blogs from sharp people in sharp churches leading sharp ministries. May their tribe increase. Dean Brown Mark Wilson

Tuesday, March 7

The final installment from Fellowship's Home Teams

If you have been involved in Small Group Ministry for any length of time, you know what an animal it can be to try to stay on top of the assimilation ( does anyone have a better word? ) of people into group life and community.

To 'combat' this, the Home Team Ministry @ Fellowship has hired a former marine to be their full time Pastor of Small Group Assimilation. OK, must of us just rolled our eyes and said, "I can't afford that". You probably can't. But, you probably can recruit a volunteer to help out in this area. In my previous pastorate in Moncton I had a young retiree ( mid 50's ) who attacked assimilation.

The retired marine's job is to call every person that goes to a small group and get them connected. He get's people's information off of welcome cards they use at each small group or off of their website where small group leaders can go in and post the info of all who were at their group this week.

What are you doing to make sure that people who come to your church or to a small group are getting connected into the fellowship?

Tuesday, February 28

If you could recommend one book on Small Groups

I received this question this past week and thought it would pose an interesting thought for the Blog: if you had to recommend one, and only one book for small group ministry, what would it be?

Well, I couldn't do it! I had to recommend three. My list will change as I continue to read, grow and learn, but these are the three I would recommend right now. Here is a copy of part of my reply to the email question:

I know you want me to recommend that ‘one’ book that will accomplish the most. Let me start this way:

If you are trying to get your leaders to buy in to the shift from being a church with small groups to being a church of small groups: “Creating Community”, Andy Stanley and Bill Willits, Multnomah, North Point Resources.
If you are looking for an over-arching resource that will put practical tools and ideas in their hands: “Small Group Ministry in the 21st Century”, encyclopedia of practical ideas, Group Publishing
If you are looking for something that will explain the nature of small groups and its role in biblical community: “Small Group Leadership as Spiritual Direction”, Heather Webb, Zondervan.


Monday, February 27

More from the C3 Conference...

O.K. Sorry for my brief departure from gupdate. Let's get back to posting more ideas from the Small Group ministry @ Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas. If you are just joining the conversation you might want to look at a few earlier postings to get a sense of the "Home Team" ministry.

The small groups test drive. Fellowship believes that joining a small group is a huge step for people. To help folks get a taste of the small group experience without actually signing up for one, they offer "Fusion". Fusion is offered on campus, during the weekend services, with child care provided. Essentially what they are doing is trying to tempt people into signing up for a small group.

Fusion is a 4-week process. They have a 25% drop out rate after weeek one. After week 4 you are given the choice of forming a new group, join an existing group or dropping out all together.

What do you think? Pros and cons? Would this work in your church?

Disaster Relief Mobilization

Wesleyan Men and World Hope Interenational have recently partnered in Disaster Relief Mobilization. We met last week at the World Hope HQ in Alexandria, Virginia. Approximately 25 people received training from the Salvation Army Emergency Services. We also launched a new Disaster Relief training manual that will be used to train Wesleyans across North America.

If you are interested in having a trainer come to your church to prepare your people in disaster response email me @

Thursday, February 16

Small Group Meeting Format

Over the years I have seen dozens of recommended meeting formats for small groups. The one that I'm most familiar with and have used the most is from the Willow Creek model in "Building Life Changing Small Groups". It has seven key elements that a healthy small group meeting incorporates.

Well, if you are looking for something simpler - here it is. The model from Fellowship Church's Home Teams only has three elements:
  • Social Time
  • Lesson Time
  • Prayer Time

What do your groups do? Do you recommend they follow a structure or check list? What do you think are the key elements to a healthy group experience?

Tuesday, February 7

The Breakdown - Defining Groups

Anyone involved in small group ministry will be challenged with, "how do we distinguish, define, or 'group' our groups. When I was at the Willow Creek Small Groups conference last fall they were talking about how they are moving to 'regional groups' and breaking them down to geographical units. If you live in neighborhood "X" then this is your group...

Here are the designations from Fellowship Church's Home Teams: Single, Married, Age, Location and then a few that are either men only or women only. They don't mix marrieds with singles, and they try to stick with age designations.

Great discussion on the last post. Thanks! Let's hear from a few of you - do you set parameters on who can go to which group? Do you have a free for all system? What are the pros and cons?

Wednesday, February 1

Home Teams Part 2

Small Groups structure. Frankly, this is something that I struggled with in the local church. How do you get all of your groups to buy in to the vision, mission and structure of your small group ministry? What do you do with renegade groups? What do you do with stubborn groups? What do you do with groups who were meeting "long before you came here, blah, blah, blah" and "we're not about to change now..."?

The model @ Fellowship is "this is our structure and if you don't fit or don't want to fit you will not be a part of our home team ministry". Structure allows you to have quality control. It also allows you to know WHO is leading the group, WHAT are they studying, WHEN do they meet, WHY do they meet, WHO attends, HOW do people join, WHERE is the group heading, and so on.

What do you think of structure? Do your groups resist it?

Tuesday, January 31

Home Teams

Home Teams is the name of the small group ministry of Fellowship Church. When you have 20,000 in attendance it is impossible to offer small groups on site - hence all the groups being in homes. Here is their purpose statement: "The Small Groups Ministry at Fellowship Church exists to provide a creative and compelling place for adults to meet in small groups for fellowship and Bible study. These Small Group venues provide a place for people to connect to others and to the life of our church while learning to apply basic biblical principles to their everyday life."

What do you think so far? Does your small group ministry have a purpose statement? What is it? - Tim

Fellowship Church C3 Conference

Last week the three Directors from the Spiritual Formation Department ( Scott Simmons- Youth, Colleen Derr - Children and myself ) attended the annual C3 Conference at Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas. We each took a days worth of pre-conference intensives relative to our areas of ministry. The rest of the conference was general sessions with Sr. Pastor Ed Young, Bill Hybels, Erwin McManus and TD Jakes. Not a bad line up!

You know how you feel when you have been to a really great conference? ( Maybe you've never been to a decent conference! ) It's kind of like going home after youth camp and wondering when the spiritual high is going to wear off. Well I gotta say that this conference was incredible and the general sessions were some of, if not, the best stuff I have heard on leading churches and their ministries.

For the next few posts, I'm going to download some of the best stuff from the conference. Right away, let me recommend that you get the conference general sessions on cd and listen to them. -Tim

Monday, January 23


Unbelievable worship band! These guys just keep getting better and better. They led worship for the North East Area Wesleyan Youth Convention "Logos 5 " in Boston this past December.

It didn't take them long to connect with the crowd and to lead us into God's presence. They are creative. They are tight. They are professional. They are God-first.

You can find them @ They have a new release due out this Spring. I highly recommend them for youth/young adult/ or even as a worship band for your weekend services.

Monday, January 16

Year of the Bible

Well we are half way through January and half way through the first month of Year of the Bible. If you are unfamiliar with YOTB it is a promotion from the Spiritual Formation Department of the Wesleyan Church to get people reading through the Bible in one year.

Basically, the response has been tremendous. We are getting reports already of how this is impacting people. Of course, we knew this all along - the Word of God is alive, it is sharp, powerful, and will not return void!

Are you reading the one year bible? What is your experience? I'd love to hear from you. Here is a link to an article published in a newspaper in Indiana:

You can find out more about Year of the Bible @

Wednesday, January 11


The website for holynext is now up and running. We are really pleased with the site - check it out @ It is a flash site - if you encounter any problems you may need to update your flash player. We're working on a no-flash page that will be on our Spiritual Formation site.

We are anticipating holynext to launch a brand new experience for our denomination - a 20 hour journey that will lead you to new levels in your journey with Jesus. The weekend will incorporate a lot of creative elements along with solid teaching, worship, and a few surprises.

We need you to share holynext with your small group, class, Pastor, church, etc. This is an event that can have eternal impact!

Tuesday, January 10

Welcome to 2006

Yeah, I know, I'm a little late! Since I haven't logged a blog since before Christmas...Happy New Year and very best wishes for an outstanding 2006.

We just arrived home on Sunday from a huge round trip from Indianapolis to Boston to New Brunswick to Ottawa and then back to Indianapolis. We think we logged around 60 hours in the rental Chevy Uplander. Our two daughter's necks are permanently fixed in the angle directed towards the ceiling mounted dvd player!

Over the holidays I received a reply to one of my postings inquiring about holynext and specifically on the words "ancient practices". The question was from 'anonymous' and they didn't give me an email address to reply to. By "ancient practices" I am referring to spiritual disciplines that have existed for centuries. In our denomination ( or at least in the churches I am familiar with ) we have not given a lot of teaching to spiritual-biblical practices of worship that draw us closer to Christ. During holynext we will equip you with a practical knowledge of some of these disciplines and real-world suggestions for incorporating them into your journey. Keith Drury will help us with some of this - I recommend his book "With Unveiled Faces".

You can always contact me at For more on holynext visit