Sunday, April 18, 2010

Jarod Osborne--soon to be pastor in Vancouver Washington

Jarod was one of those strong-silent-type students. He always seemed so strong to me—even before I knew him well. I later discovered why he came across this way—it was a mind set of a man with a black belt in martial arts and he was restrained in letting that power out. That’s how Jarod was intellectually too in my classes—he often knew the answers to questions and had deep thoughts yet he often kept them to himself while others filled up class discussion with shallower thoughts.

I got to know Jarod best after he spent his junior year overseas. Facing radical culture shock, other flourishing religions and personal grief he experienced a major crisis of faith. When he returned to IWU he was trying to find his way again and we met often. I admired Jarod deeply as I saw him work through recovering his faith again. He is one of my models for how to face and recover from such a faith crisis. His strength and perseverance makes him the go-to guy in my opinion for young men and woman facing such a collapse of faith.

Jarod worked as a youth outreach coordinator for the Salvation Army in Mansfield, Ohio, and has served in youth work for a United Methodist church in New Jersey and even served as a missionary to Uganda where he found his wife Esther. The last time I ran into Jarod was after hiking the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming with the Kinds. Sharon and I stopped by Yellowstone for chuch Sunday morning and Jarod was the summer park chaplain there—he preached a great sermon. (His pictiure that morning is above).

Jarod is about to graduate from seminary. In a month or so he’ll graduate from Princeton Theological seminary, my own alma mater. I found out this week that he has just accepted a call to be the solo-senior pastor of the Vancouver Wesleyan church, in Washington. District Superintendent Karl Westfall is building up quite a cadre of pastors in that district and Jarod will be a great addition. Jarod, I’m proud of you—you’ll make a great pastor!

For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 1 Thessalonians 2:19 (NIV)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I'm proud of Chelo & Laura!

Marcelo Santana came to IWU from Puerto Rico but I didn’t get to really know him until Paul Kind invited Marcelo along for a month of hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail.

What a wonderful guy he turned out to be. How I came to love and admire Marcelo! He was an intrepid hiker who never seemed to have a bad day--even though he often fell into rivers and streams while attempting too-long jumps across the rocks. He sang lustily on the trail so that I could hear him a half mile away, he remembered stories and jokes from his teen years and from campus and told (and retold) these stories until our sides split with laughter. (Picture of Marcelo and me below)

On the IWU campus he was a whirlwind of energy, riding his skateboard into right into the classroom or publishing a book of ideas for “Cheap Dates in Marion” which he sold to other students who had less creativity. His papers were always different from everyone else’s since he could dream up a dozen different way to do the assignment that the professor had never even never thought of.

I watched Marcelo flip for Laura Warner (who happened to be one of my favorite Christian Education students). Laura graduated in 2002 and Marcelo (AKA "Chelo") graduated in youth ministry a year later. When these two got married they moved to Ohio, Laura’s home state, where Laura taught at Head Start and Marcelo worked on a farm then later at a factory making electrical parts. But hat was not thei goal--they were praying together that God would lead them to a church.

In October 2003, a year after Chelo’s graduation they were called to work at Grant Wesleyan Church in Michigan. Ever since they have been at that same church—a great church with a great senior pastor. Laura substitute taught until their daughter Elena was born and they have recently added a scond child, Antonio, who is now about 6 months old. I think they bought a house there too.

Laura mentors youth and young adults in the Grant church and is a youth leader working with Marcelo who is the youth pastor/assistant pastor. Chelo is the consummate “connecter” with people—he is virtually "omnipresent" in the community. He coaches soccer, plays indoor soccer after school, hangs out at the skate parks, and even runs dodge ball tournaments in the high school gym to provide a safe place for kids on Friday nights.

Lately Chelo is really into training interns for service and ministry—mostly high school seniors. His high school interns speak at children’s rallies, help the elderly, do home repair projects, learn to play instruments, and help out with local church ministries. It is an incredible thing--he runs a program for high schoolers that rivals some post-college internship prgrams. In fact Chelo sends some students to IWU who have more ministerial experience when they get here than most other students have when they leave!

To connect with the Mexican community the Grant church runs a summer soccer league--getting the idea that Chelo likes soccer? Chelo is also a translator in the court system along with helping the volunteers learn Spanish. Can a Puerto Rican kid who married an Ohio girl be happy in northern Michigan? You betcha! They love their work and the people at Grant Wesleyan and their Senior Pastor loves them right back. I’m proud of you Chelo & Laura!

For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 1 Thessalonians 2:19 (NIV)

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Dave Mierau --Pastor in Goshen

Dave Mierau graduated from IWU in 2005 and is now pastor at LifeSpring Community Church, in Goshen, Indiana. It is a very relational, laid back church packed with mature leaders and a lot of diversity in age and occupations including quite a few students from Goshen college who attend. Dave’s church runs about a hundred people but he has five people on staff. How does he pull this off? There are five staffers each at about ten hours a week—most of them of course are bi-vocational. The staff is pretty diverse too in terms of people's ages. Dave feels this intergenerational-part-timers staff model has worked pretty well. He’s energized!

I recall that Dave had a series of solid practicum experiences in college and some great internship experiences after college before he returned to Indiana to pastor this church. About a year ago he got married (to Kim) and they are partners in ministry. I admire Dave’s creativity and leadership! I’m proud of you Dave!

For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 1 Thessalonians 2:19 (NIV)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dustin Krantz--Apprentice Youth Minister

Dustin graduated just last year (2009) with a CM degree. When he was here he was involved at College Wesleyan church and he especially focused on the college ministry of seven47. He was always active in classes and his ever-present smile in classes always made me want to continue teaching another year!

Dustin started looking for internships the summer before his final year. He wanted to serve as an intern before launching into a full ministry position. He found a church who said they were interested in his coming for a summer, but they wanted someone who would consider coming back after graduation for the possibility of filling a full time position—as a continuing full-year intern. He took that summer internship, and sure enough he then went on staff as an “apprentice” there after he graduated.

Dustin is at Crossroads Christian Church, a non-denominational Christian Church in Evansville, Indiana where the weekly attendance is about 3700. The high school ministry has 150 students at the Sunday night program and 200 students involved in house groups on a weekly basis. The church had been without a high school pastor for three years when Dustin joined the staff so the department head over student ministries had been fulfilling this role. That department head developed the plan of which he is now a part.

Dustin (with a second recent graduate of Johnson Bible College) are both in a 1 year apprenticeship where they are mentored under the counsel of the department head (who has thirty years of youth ministry experience). At the end of this year the church will decide if it wants to take one or the other or both of them on as high school pastors.

There are two high school campuses they work with so each of them takes one school. Dustin is in a school that is very open to ministries, so he is coaching the defensive line for the varsity football team where he makes vital contacts. Te church is seeing incredible growth in the youth ministry, and Dustin is excited. So am I. Dustin shows how a student can leverage a summer internship into a year-long apprenticeship which gets him wonderful experience that leads to full time full pay work there or elsewhere. I’m proud of you Dustin!

For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 1 Thessalonians 2:19 (NIV)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tom Cochran--church Planter in Wabash

I forgot exactly when Tom Cochran graduated from IWU but he and Sarah are making me proud==along with Matt Cox!

I knew Tom as a student and I remember that he was always a steady and hard-working student—he was always sparking his small group to work harder and can still picture him as a “nodder”—not the kind of nodder who nods to sleep but the kind who nods during a lecture affirming what the teacher is saying egging me on. (I always need at least one in class!).

Last month (2/2010) Tom bit off a huge challenge. He held his first service in a new Wesleyan church plant in Wabash, Indiana—the New Journey Community Church. There were 123 people attending his first service at the “Honeywell center” there. I’m thrilled! I’ve been involved with two church plants myself as a “layman” and getting more than a hundred people out for the first service is a gigantic accomplishment!

Kudos to Tom and Sarah—and to Matt Cox who is also helping out on staff! A number of people already become Christians as a result of their work in Wabash, several in the very first service. A lot of the students I teach want to plant churches so I’m especially happy to tell them about graduates like Tom Cochran who didn’t just dream but actually did it! If you want to hear Tom on this new church, see his video here. I’m proud of you Tom! People like you make teaching ministry student worth it all!

For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 1 Thessalonians 2:19 (NIV)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Eddie Smith--SWU

Eddie Smith was impossible to miss when he was in a class. His energy, craziness and active participation made all his professors look forward to him. He was a fantastic note-taker. I remember one time his note-taking got him in trouble with Bud Bence. Dr. Bence noticed that one of his 7:50 classes had simply “gone dead.” Students seemed glazed over and few even took any notes. They listened but when he said something obviously important nobody wrote it down. It shook Bence—he thought maybe he had lost his magical touch. Then he discovered that Eddie Smith was taking perfect notes each day and emailing them to the rest of the class. Upon getting the notes the rest of the class realized they’d never be able to capture Bence as well as Eddie did so they just checked out and waited for their email from Eddie. (I think Bence talked him out of that, but if I recall correctly he persuaded Eddie to give HIM a copy of the notes—who knows, maybe he’s using Eddie’s notes now in his lectures!

Eddie graduated in 2001 and began his ministry as a sort of intern at the Wesleyan Headquarters in the Evangelism & Church Growth department under (now a General Superintendent) Jerry Pence. Then he spent two years as the youth pastor at Mt. Zion Wesleyan Church in North Carolina before moving to IWU’s sister school, Southern Wesleyan University where he has worked in admissions since 2004. I’ve always sort of seen Eddie as a church planter—he has just the sort of personality that attracts people and he has always been able to “call out” people, which is why he’s been good at admissions I bet. It has been nine years since Eddie graduated and every one of his profs still remember him well. That’s saying something—after all since Eddie graduated from IWU we have had more than a thousand students pass through the Religion Division (now “School of Theology and Ministry”). But if you know Eddie that’s not hard to imagine. Eddie we are all proud of you!

For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 1 Thessalonians 2:19 (NIV)

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Kelsi Adkins, Pastor of Families with Children

Kelsi Adkins had a double major at IWU (Christians Education & Worship) and was always alert and full of energy in her classes. We all missed her when she graduated in 2008. When she was in college she did her practicum work at Hanfield UM church and also worked in her home church over a couple summer in Chillicothe, Ohio. When she graduated she moved to Indianapolis where she got an apartment with Kelly Reynen. With her CE degree she passed the tests and becmae a teacher in Indianapolis Schools and also did some preaching on the side as she worked on her Master’s degree at Marian College in Indy and she juggled several options for her life’s calling.

When Kelsi moved to Indy she started attending Grace Pointe Church of the Nazarene on the west side. She had been attending there for a little over a year when the pastor preached a sermon where he mentioned about the need for our church to hire a children’s pastor. This church had never had one before, even though the church is a fairly good size. In that service Kelsi heard the Lord spoke to her about this opportunity. So she approached the pastor immediately after that service. So this CE-Worship graduate who was now a public school teacher interviewed with the board and got a unanimous vote.

That was last fall. She started in her full time church ministry job in December, 2009. Her title: “Pastor of Families with Children.” As soon as she finishes her Master’s degree this May she will begin the credentials process for ministry in the Church of the Nazarene

Kelsi is one of those students who finally settled her call to the ministry after graduation, though she sensed it before. As a single woman in ministry she has faced some challenges. Just six weeks after she took over as a pastor a family of seven left the church because the husband refused to be under her leadership in the children’s department since she was a woman. But she has an incredibly supportive and mentoring senior pastor who takes such things in stride. Here’s the way she puts it: “I won’t sugarcoat things, but I can say that denying the call would be much worse than braving the opposition.” Kelsi I’m proud of you!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Craig Coe & Pricilla in Colorado

Craig Coe is the Executive Pastor at Cherry Creek Wesleyan Church in Colorado.

He graduated from IWU in 2002 and his first job was in Flatland Indiana with IWU Admissions. As a student he did all of his practicum courses at Lakeview Church in Marion —one each with the senior pastor, assistant pastor, college pastor and music pastor so he could see all aspects of the work—a great idea.

A year before Craig graduated he joined a church planting team planning to launch a church two years later, in 2004—also a great idea. Craig and his wife

He and his wife (Priscilla Ruder Coe) moved to Colorado in starting out as Pastor of Discipleship at the new “Summit Church.” He led the small groups, special classes and seminars, along with leading the marketing and technology aspects in the new church plant.

When the lead pastor of Summit church left in 2006 Craig took on the role of lead pastor. He’s a good example of someone who was happy to be a staff pastor and wasn’t that interested in taking on the mental and emotional challenges of being a lead pastor—but when God and the church called him to it, he stepped up for the next three years.

Later two Wesleyan churches merged (Summit Church and Cherry Creek) and Craig became the executive pastor of the merged church. As exec pastor he oversees the financial and organizational structures of the church and also leads the preschool-daycare. He coordinates the weekend service and is leads the church’s marketing too. Of course he does other things all pastors do, like leading a small group for young families.

I’m jealous of Craig because he lives in my favorite state. I’ve been trying to get IWU to move to Colorado but so far I’ve been unsuccessful—we’ve built too many new buildings in Indiana I guess. But I do visit Colorado! A few years ago Jeanie Argot, Burt & Mason Webb, and I hiked a section of the Continental Divide and Colorado Trail and Craig picked us up at the Denver airport and dropped us off up in the mountains for our three week trek. We almost persuaded Craig to just leave the car at the road and join us!

One of Craig’s good friends is Nathan Lamb—who now works at Wesley Seminary here in Marion. So every time I see Nathan I remember Craig and Priscilla. Craig and Priscilla have some kids but I forgot how many—they are great parents (I hear from Melissa “Rudy” who is always talking about her sister). I still remember Craig form classes—but more so, I picture him in Colorado where I always dreamed of planting a church myself! Thanks for living my dream for me! Craig, you bring great meaning to my life and I’m proud of you!

For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 1 Thessalonians 2:19 (NIV)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Steve & Amber Abel

Steve Abel graduated almost five years ago, in 2005. I think maybe I was the first person he "interviewed" when he was decising to come to IWU. That was back when we were first founding the worship major--and I was teaching all the worship courses.

I loved having Steve in classes because he was always in tune with whatever was being taught—smiling, nodding, and “getting it.” It least he always looked like that to me! He was very active as a student in ministry—not waiting until he graduated to get involved. Steve did his practicum at Eagle Church in Indianapolis (where Ian Swyers is now--see entry below). Amber, his wife took a bunch of my classes too—she was always a happy student who reliably offered some clever and sometimes irreverent comment before, during and after classes. Wheneve I saw the printout of students and saw her name I knew it was going to be a fun class. Amber was always freezing at IWU—invaribly bringing a blanket to class to curl up in!

When they got married I expected Amber to persuade Steve to move someplace warm, but they went to serve at the Sidney Ohio First United Methodist Church. He worked there for almost 2 years when Heritage Wesleyan Church in the Quad cities snatched him . I think Mark Schmerse who worked at Heritage at the time contacted Steve first and linked up the church and Stave (more about Mark in a previous entry here). That reminds me how networking is important—you never know which of your former college buddies might hook you up with your next church. Steve is the worship pastor at Heritage church now. Steve and Amber now have a little boy, Lincoln.

I think Steve was instrumental in beginning the new Heritage "Bettendorf venue" (their 2nd Campus) initially, though now it is led by the campus pastor for Bettendorf. He still selects all music for the campuses except his youth worship leaders select their own music for youth programming. Steve is a genius at event planning and plays a major role in the creative planning process and stage design for the large Christmas and Easter events.

When Styeve was a student he led worship too—and that’s exactly what he does—leads others in worship. It is not a watch-Steve-sing performance but worshipping God together as Steve "prompts." Every time I have been in a service led by Steve he has helped me connect with God. I loved Steve and Amber when they were students and I was proud of them then. Still am! I’m proud of you Steve and Amber!

For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 1 Thessalonians 2:19 (NIV)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Ian Swyers & Danielle

Ian Swyers and his wife Danielle graduated 2006. Ian was a doule major--Business Administarion and Christian Ministry. I had Ian as a freshman first, then several times later. As a student he worked at College Wesleyan Church during the school year and in the summers he worked at Skyline Wesleyan in California and Spring Lake Wesleyan in Michigan.

When Ian and Dannnielle graduated he went to Indianapolis to work with Clint Ussher as a Co-Student Pastor of 6-12 grades at Eagle Church (Christian & Missionary Alliance). Two years later Clint left for Princeton Seminary and Ian took over as the Student Pastor for grades 5-12 He’s been at Eagle Church for about 4 years now.

As “Student Ministry Pastor” Ian has about 130 students who regularly attend his various weekly programs. Danielle works with the youth ministry too as small group leader, program planning, game leader, retreat and trips leader, and speaker. She works a “day job” too as an executive assistant for H.C. Wilson in Wesleyan Global Partners

Ian was gifted high school student himself—he was known as a strong Christian in a public high school. Now he leads other teens to become this sort of witness in their own schools. He is creative, industrous and a great youth speaker. He cruises through our campus a few times a year interviewing students to join him as interns. I always urge stuents to link up—he is a master at youth ministry and has lots to teach. I’m proud of Ian and Danielle.

For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 1 Thessalonians 2:19 (NIV)

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Zach & Becca Coffin--Spring Lake Michigan

Zach & Becca Coffin are a double-header couple that graduated in 2007—almost three years ago. I had each in numerous classes before they found each other and had them both in one class after they became a couple. Zach was a life-long Baptist and Becca was a Wesleyan from southern Ohio. They are one of those couples professors hope will find each other—and sometimes we “help” make that happen.

When Zach was a student he worked faithfull with the youth at a local Baptist church of 1200. I watched his wise approach to ministry even when he was a student and things didn’t go well in his church. The church of 1200 faced troubles that are not worthy of mentioning here but as a result its attendance dropped to 800 people, then to 600—it was not a pretty sight. As the church crumbled they turned to Zach to lead the children’s ministry then he became the interim youth pastor for a year holding things together. After he graduated the church eventually split.

Upon graduation Zach and his new wife Becca went south—to an independent Presbyterian-ish Community Church that was facing even worse complications that are beyond mentioning here. Yet as youth pastor he led the ministry from 15 to 50 in the following 2 ½ years. Zach and I emailed often while he was building a youth ministry in a “difficult situation.” Zach always had such a delightful attitude—never judgmental, never critical, and always took the long view for the sake of the church—not his own “career.”

So when I heard this fall that Zach and Becca were going to Spring Lake Wesleyan church in Michigan I knew they had got a winner. How well things turned out! Here was a mature guy getting a job at mature church. I like Spring Lake church almost as much as I like Zach and Becca! At Spring Lake Zach is th Pastor of Student Ministry and runs all middle school and high school ministries—about 150 students. He has two other paid staff members and about 40 volunteer leaders helping him. Zach is in a sense the “senior pastor of student ministries.”

About half of the students I teach are Wesleyans. The other half includes Methodists, Baptists, Nazarenes, Independents, Brethren, and even an occasional Roman Catholic. It is OK with me when these students return to their home denomination to serve and minister. But I am always delighted when a Baptist or Nazarene graduate winds up becoming a Wesleyan. I hope that’s not naughty of me but I admit it. I don’t try to “convert” them (Zach will testify to that) but when it happens I am always tickled inside.

Zach and Becca faced some pretty difficult ministry situations—situations that cold have made them quit or give up. But they persevered and kept pouring their time into their ministry and didn’t let the messy church situation deflate their motivation. They are examples to me and my students that they might not get an ideal church situation when they graduate… they might even get a really messy one… but here’s Zach and Becca’s take on it all: “We might find ourselves somewhere really messy but we can never find ourselves someplace where we can’t be used.” God has consistently used this couple who Love God and each other. I expect to hear lots more about them in the future. I’m Proud of Zach and Becca Coffin!

For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 1 Thessalonians 2:19 (NIV)

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Austin Bonds--missionary in New York City

Austin Bonds escaped a life of drug and alcohol abuse and overcame great odds to wind up today as a one of the leaders working with needy people in New York city.

Austin graduated almost ten years ago—in 2001 as a youth ministry & recreation Management major. After a short stint in Arkansas where his wife, Darcy got a job but Austin wasn’t able to find a church or job fit and simply did odd jobs while looking. Finally he took a volunteer youth Pastor position. Before long Austin and Darcy moved back to Marion where he volunteered at College Church. His specialty was picking up the "non-church kids," ministering to them then taking them back home. He then worked with Fairmount Wesleyan for a couple of years where Jason Denniston now works.

Finally, six year after graduation his chance to do what he dreamed of came. Austin linked up with New York City Relief ( ) where he is the Director of Outreach. NYCR is an interdenominational para-church ministry that utilizes an old school Bus to bring the good news and resources to the areas in most need in the metro NYC area. They have a budget of about a million dollars a year and serve 10 locations a week. On these visits Austin’s busses serve soup, bread, and hot chocolate to over 2,000 people weekly. The food brings the people in but actually they serve a do9uble portion: food and life transformation. They are a bridge to other helping ministries and agencies—more than 600 others—from food pantries to Christian based drug rehab.

Austin gets to do what he dreamed of doing—mobilizing the church for God's social justice system. He personally leads the outreach at two different locations each week along with serving as part of the leadership team that makes decisions for the organization.

Though Austin’s ministry is non-denominational he stays connected to his home denomination, the Wesleyan Church and some day I expect he will take a church again or maybe work in one of the many justice and mercy programs Wesleyan churches are now launching. If he does it would be our win—he is a great guy and Darcy and their three kids are a wonderful family. (I’m not trying to steal you away from NYCR, Austin… well, not right away ;-) Austin is one of the growing number of IWU grads who have a heart for the needy—like Jesus.

I like it that Austin didn’t give up. He is a great model of someone who had a hard time finding his place on graduation, cobbling together work as a home inspector, volunteer youth worker, pert time youth worker, before landing work in the NYCR. He never gave up on his calling and I admire him for that. I’m proud of you Austin!

For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 1 Thessalonians 2:19 (NIV)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Adam & Becky Thada--Bo-living

Adam Thada

I never actually had Adam (or his wife Becky) in class, but I count Adam as one of my joys because we spent so many hours when he was a student drinking coffee together, reading all of Steinbeck’s East of Eden together and hiking the Knobstone Trail in Indiana . He reminds me of the joy I sometimes derive from students who never sit in any of my courses.

Adam was a Biology & International & Community Development major so he had most of his classes with my friends, Burt Webb, Norman Wilson, Steve Pettis, and Ken Schenck. I got to know him best when I helped run support when he and a few other students tried to hike the 44 mile Knobstone Trail (20,000’ of elevation gain/loss) in one 24 hour period—and he made it in less than 18 hours!

Adam and Becky are so committed to helping the needy they bring conviction to me. When Adam graduated he and Becky moved to the inner city of Marion and worked at St Martin Community Center where he worked in the food pantry, soup kitchen, thrift store for more than a year. He became the assistant director of this widely known caring ministry.

Adam is not only sensitive to the poor but is committed to careful stewardship of the environment too. One time we had Adam and Becky over for dinner and afterward he gently corrected my extravagant waste of using incandescent lights—even offering to buy some on his meager salary for me to replace my bulbs. “Coach, I’m disappointed, you should know better.” Rightly subdued, I went out and replaced all my bulbs the following week. In a way Adam was my mentor in reducing my carbon footprint.

It was no surprise to me last summer when Adam and Becky joined up with Word-made-flesh and went to Al Alto, Bolivia They now work in a hospitality center for women in prostitution. They visit the brothels regularly and invite women to the center, where they offer a doctor, serve meals, along with therapy/counseling. Soon they will be launching an exporting business making purses as an alternative employment. I follow Adam and Beck on their blog:

Adam now lives at a higher elevation than I have ever climbed in my life! (I understand he now has zero-degree sleeping bag even--probably a low-footprint one!) They live in an ecumenical community that "is called and committed to serve Jesus among the most vulnerable of the world’s poor. This calling is realized as a prophetic ministry for, and an incarnational, holistic mission among the poor. We focus our energy to make Jesus known among the poor while reconciling the church with the poor."

I admire Adam and Becky and am proud to consider him as one of my great joys. They are making a difference among the poor and abused in the world—like Jesus did. I’m proud of you Adam and Becky!

For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 1 Thessalonians 2:19 (NIV)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Julie Collins--Church Planter

Julie Collins was one of those stand-out ministerial students every professor knew was going to make an impact. I had her in the first introductory ministerial course and a bunch of courses after that. She was brilliant and could have gotten a free ride to just about any grad school or seminary in the country. But Julie felt too called to the local church to go one just yet for further education—she wanted to be in local church ministry—and right away. Julie was a Methodist when she came to IWU but when she graduated she became a Wesleyan and went on staff at Spring Lake Wesleyan Church (Michigan) where she became a model of what a woman can do as a youth pastor. Being a woman youth pastor is sometimes a harder glass ceiling” to break than becoming a woman senior pastor or General Superintendent. There are few areas of ministry where women ministers have a harder time “breaking in” than youth ministry. But she did it and did it well—even though she hardly appeared to be much older than the teens she led.

After several years as a youth pastor Julie felt led to enter what some of us had expected all along she would do—she became a single-woman-church planter! Julie moved to Ft. Collins, Colorado last summer and is now planting a new Wesleyan church there. She has assembled a team including Joel Stone, Brandon and Kristen Vanderkolk and maybe Katie and Jamie Fuller. Everyone on the team are all getting jobs so they can integrate into the community and pour money back into the church.

She hasn’t started public services yet but in November she launched her “party strategy” of holding weekly parties every Tuesday for the sole purpose of developing community and enjoying life with people they are collecting. Next she started a weekly Bible Study. The “party strategy” intrigues me… and it really fits what many younger folk (and some of us older folk) see as the need in the church for more intimacy and friendship. I bet it is easier for non-churched people to accept an invitation to a “party” than to a church service. How clever!
A larger core group is now developing out of those parties. At this point Julie’s team is looking toward a starting with a house church model which they feel better fits the Ft. Collins culture. She is developing then a monthly gathering of all the house churches. Her philosophical approach is heavily rooted in Ephesians 4—the ministerial team’s job is to equip the people to be ministers. As you might expect form her generation the approach is hyper-relational as hope to become a church that “does life together.”

About 40% of the students I teach are women called to ministry. They are passionate about the church and feel a clear call to the ministry. Yet they hear from some that because they are a woman they are deceived—for a woman cannot be called to the ministry. Yet they persevere hoping there will be a place for them some day. Julie’s example gives them hope. I am full of joy because of people like Julie Collins—a model church planter for a generation! I'm proud of you Julie!

For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 1 Thessalonians 2:19 (NIV)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I admire Aaron Cloud

Aaron Cloud was one of those quiet students who gently participated in class and seldom attracted attention to himself. I had Aaron in three classes, LCE, Adult CE and leadership. He graduated in 2008 and is now in IWU's seminary program.

Aaron spent his first year after graduation as an isolated unmarried solo pastor at Davis Wesleyan Church here in Indiana. I trembled a bit when he went because I know solo pastoring can be isolated and lonely work even for a young married couple, let alone for a single guy. But Aaron stuck with developing friendships and loving the people. Aaron has a great heart of compassion and developed quite an effective ministry at Davis Wesleyan to the poor and to widows. That is the kind of thing Aaron does--love people like Jesus loved.

Taking a small church right out of college dumps a graduate into the deep end of the pool. Aaron discovered that in his first year. No college course can fully prepare a 22 year old to minister to a Father who just lost his son in a tragic train accident. Aaron survived and that man actually eventually became a Christian and Aaron baptized him.

Aaron has always had a burden for the poor, neglected and marginalized. I remember in his leadership class there were small groups who designed church plants—as an example of the sort of leadership-management things a minister would do. His group designed a church for the poor in Marion—Aaron was even tempted at the time to launch out and actually plant that church! So it is no surprise to me that Aaron (with his new wife—they get married in a few weeks) are headed off soon to pour their lives into work with abused, neglected, and abandoned children in Chicago. On weekends he will be preaching around the Chicago area so if you are nearby I hope you will invite him to your church—you won’t be disappointed with his compassionate and tender sermons that will bring a tear to your eye and a lump in your throat.
Aaron is one of the increasing numbers of the young people I get to teach who are willing to put their life where their mouth is. It is easy to say you have compassion for the poor, or even open a food pantry at a subburban church. But Aaron plans to do mroe than that--he plans to live with the poor. Rather than just tossing a few coins to Dives while passing by, or just taking a one-week tourist-ministry trip to take pictures of himself with the poor, Aaron is willing to go down in the gutter and live with the poor and anguished—learning from them and loving them where they are.

I admire Aaron because he reminds me of Jesus. It is what makes my teaching worthwhile. —Aaron is my joy and crown. I'm proud of you Aaron!

For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 1 Thessalonians 2:19 (NIV)

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Christy Hontz Lipscomb: Co-Pastor

Christy Hontz Lipscomb graduated in 1998—a bit more than a decade ago but I can never forget her participation in my classes. She was always one of those students who clearly registered the effectiveness (or failure) of my teaching on her face--and right away! When I was making sense I got nods and a smile; when I was garbled, I saw confused frowns and I would try to teach my way out of the ditch until I got a nod again! Christy made me a better teacher—she was an instant visual monitoring device in my classroom--if Christy was nodding I knew was on track.

Christy graduated from IWU, married Adam Lipscomb and after a stint at a church in Michigan they went to Asbury Seminary together then planted city-view Wesleyan church in Grand Rapids Michigan together where they carry on an extensive city ministry as co-pastors.

Christy and Adam are my model for ministry couples in my classes who are looking toward co-pastoring. They each work about 30 hours a week. They share parenting responsibilities and pastoring responsibilities so for them, "co-pastoring means co-parenting." This shared schedule allows them ample time to be home with their two sons, Jude, 3 and Elijah, 1.

Christy preaches about 75% of the time, leads the Sunday morning system (preaching, schedule, topics, preachers, overseeing the worship leader). She also heads up the Discipleship, Ministry, Leadership system and Administration. Adam leads other “systems” including the Strategic, Evangelism, Assimilation, and Stewardship systems

In a nutshell, Christy focuses mostly on running the inner life of the church & Adam does more of the visionary/apostolic/evangelism work of connecting with the community. They’ve even explored the idea of Christy taking on more responsibility at City Life and Adam moving away from City Life a bit to plant another church elsewhere in our city. But that’s not an immediate possibility.

Christy is a disciplined minister who runs her life on a schedule. I saw this in college and see it now in her weekly routine. On Mondays she does initial sermon prep, administrative clean-up & delegation for the coming week and meets with her worship leader. On Tuesdays she digs in for the really heavy sermon prep then prepared Wednesday for their midweek Bible study and meets again with the worship leader. Thursdays is given to additional sermon prep and a staff meeting along with miscellaneous projects (which includes serving part time (10 hours per month) at the West Michigan District Office as an Assistant DS). As an assistant DS her job is to bring attention to social justice efforts in the district, and to women in ministry. Friday is her day off and both Adam and Christy observe their day off “legalistically” by denying (for that day) any church problems. On Saturday night by 6 p.m. they both shut themselves off to focus on Sunday.

I love it that Christy loves to preach. Anyone who heard Christy at the last Wesleyan General Conference understands how good she is. I love it especially because preaching is a Waterloo of sorts for many of my women ministerial students. They want to go into the ministry and do church work as a life’s calling, but when it comes to preaching they sometimes demur—preferring the “let the guys do it.” In my opinion this is one of the greatest barriers for these women in ministry, and Christy is a great model here so I often tell about her in my classes.

Christy serves an inner city congregation where she focuses on the marginal in society. She prepares sermons just as she would if she were speaking to a thousand suburbanites. I love it that Christy and Adam love the church. I doubt they will ever enter a para-church ministry even though it would be far more comfortable for them. They are just too in love with local church ministry for that.

Christy is the sort of past student I rejoice in—even more then ten years after she graduated from IWU. —Christy is my joy and crown. I'm proud of you Christy!

For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 1 Thessalonians 2:19 (NIV)