Ron Ramsey, Bishop
REMINDER!
The Turnaround Church Seminar is coming quickly–April 18 at Huntington University. See my March 14 posting for more details. If you need registration forms, let me know. This would be good for board members, staff members, commission chairpersons, pastors…anyone who is interested in seeing their church turn around. We should have a good response to this seminar. I will attend, and I hope to see you there!

Ron Ramsey, Bishop
I recently came across this quote that moved me. How about you?
“It is a marvel to me how men continue at ease in preaching year after year without conversions. Have they no bowels of compassion for others? No sense of responsibility upon themselves? Dare they, by a vain misrepresentation of divine sovereignty, cast the blame on their Master? Or is it their belief that Paul plants and Apollos waters, and that God gives no increase? Vain are their talents, their philosophy, their rhetoric, and even their orthodoxy, without the signs following. How are they sent of God who bring no men to God? Prophets whose words are powerless, sowers whose seed all withers, fishers who take no fish, soldiers who give no wounds–are these God’s men? Surely it were better to be a mud-raker, or a chimney-sweep, than to stand in the ministry as an utterly barren tree. The meanest occupation confers some benefit upon mankind, but the wretched man who occupies a pulpit and never glorifies his God by conversions is a blank, a blot, an eyesore, a mischief. He is not worth the salt he eats, much less his bread…. If the Lord gives you no zeal for souls, keep to the lapstone or the trowel, but avoid the pulpit as you value your heart’s peace and your future salvation.” (From “Lectures to My Students,” by C.H. Spurgeon. pg 32)

When I first started in ministry, the goal seemed to be to get things done. The primary way people were influenced and helped was with the teaching. Sunday preaching, teaching times, and classes were the major focus. Families were stable and safe for the most part. Parents were communicating on some level with their children. Mentoring, imperfect though it may have been, was happening.

Things are different today. While I still do believe that Sunday morning is the most important event that happens in the life of the church, the need to strategically devote our time to “being with people” the rest of the week will determine true life transformation. Office visits and five-minute conversations in the sanctuary or hallway won’t cut it. And for those who have staff members on their team, it is imperative that you spend non-planning meeting time with them just to ask, “How is it going, really?”

For men to be influenced, it is more likely that they will open up and share what is inside them if they are on the golf course with you, or helping with a project, or driving to an event together. Those minutes and hours will provide sudden “God moments” when something will come out into the open. Probing follow-up questions can then give opportunity to explore the questions or situation more fully.

We must be careful how much time we give to whom. Timothy was told to entrust what he had learned to “reliable men” who in turn would be able to influence others. While every person in the church is important, and we must care for all, long term investments must be reserved for those who can help make a difference by replicating the effort in the lives of others. So we must ask some crucial questions:

1. Is this person reliable?
2. Is this person desiring to grow and is he teachable?
3. Is this person going to be around for a while?
4. Does this person apply the initial truths we have discussed?
5. Is this person leading his home in godliness?

There are other questions you may want to ask. The key is to make sure that your investment is able to bring a return (as best as you can determine at the time). All of us have invested and seen the fruit go out the door or never show up. But with wise selection, we can increase the possibility of success.

The teen and twenty-something generations are longing today to spend time with and hear from older adults that they know care about them and are interested in sharing life with them. They have had few meaningful interactions in their lives that they feel have prepared them to successfully navigate the nuances of life. They want to hear our experiences, and know how we handled what they are facing.

Many adults are in the same boat. They feel their failures and challenges but find few places to share their “low times.” If we provide a place, time and circumstance where they know it is safe and their vulnerability will be met with a loving attitude and a desire to help them succeed, they will open up.

So look at your schedule. Work at not doing much alone. Take someone with you. Plan who will travel with you to that retreat. Invite someone to help you with that project at home. Make time to be “with” people. Men with men, and women with women, for obvious reasons. And if you say you don’t have time, you are admitting that you don’t want to be effective in what you are doing. That is how crucial this is for today.

Michigan Conference’s mid-year session was held in February at Brown Corners UB church in Clare, Mich. The delegates took action to disband the conference as of July 2006, in compliance with the vision of the 2005 US National Conference.
The delegates heard reports and recommendations from conference ministries. Here is a summary of the actions taken:

  • A new association consisting of Michigan Conference churches will be formed. Articles of incorporation and bylaws are being developed. Information on the new association will be mailed to local churches in time for their June board meetings.
  • The Lane-Dulcenia Home, Carson City Christian Camping Center, the insurance program, and oversight of a fund balance for quizzing will come under the umbrella of the new association.
  • Camp Living Water (Luther, Mich.) is working on a name change and will consider if and how they might wish to participate in the association.
  • The conference’s Cabinent of Missions will disband, and the Roger Carey Scholarship Fund will be administered under the authority of the Michigan Regional Women’s Missionary Fellowship.
  • The Board of Church Multiplication has eliminated the paid position of Director of Church Planting in Michigan Conference. The new church being planted in Portland will proceed as a locally sponsored effort by Sunfield and the Wesleyan denomination.
  • $100,000 earmarked for the Portland plant has been reallocated to church planting projects in Michigan, under the oversight of the national Church Multiplication Leadership Team. If any money is left after five years, the CMLT will have the freedom to use the funds for church planting anywhere.

In February, Randy Fennig, pastor of Prince of Peace UB church in Springfield, Ohio, spent two weeks in Sierra Leone on a fact-finding mission for UB Global Ministries. Randy, a former missionary in Mozambique, is a member of the Global Ministries Leadership Team. He was joined on that trip by fellow GMLT member Ruth Ann Price.
While in Africa, Randy contracted malaria (which he has had before). He has been battling malaria ever since, in large part because his doctors in Ohio haven’t seen this disease before. As a result, Randy continued to get worse.
On Tuesday, March 21, Randy’s family finally found a doctor near his hometown of Portland, Ind., who has some experience in treating malaria. They took him to the hospital in Jay County. On his arrival, his temperature was spiking at 105.5 degrees and he was having convulsions. The got it down to 102, and then rushed him by ambulance to Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie, Ind. He began a treatment which was expected to take around 72 hours to make an impact.
Fortunately, Randy is doing much better and is responding to the treatment. As of Wednesday night, after 24 hours of doxycycline and quinine, Randy had improved a lot.

The Huntington University men’s basketball team started as the Number 2 seed in the NAIA Division II national tournament in Branson, Mo. They made it fairly easily to the championship game. But then they ran into College of the Ozarks, a school which basically had home-field advantage.
In the final game Tuesday night, March14, Huntington’s poorest shooting performance and lowest offensive output of the season led to its demise. They fell 74-56 to College of the Ozarks.
Read more about the game here.

Ron Ramsey, Bishop
turnaround.jpgThere is an event planned for April at Huntington University that some of you should be interested in attending. The Hoffman Lectureship Series for 2006 will be held on the campus April 18, 2006, with the topic being “Turnaround Churches.” The speaker is Gene Wood, who has authored two books, “Leading Turaround Churches” and “Leading Turnaround Teams.” The lecture will begin at 8:30 AM and end at 3:30 PM.
The registration fee is just $30 and it covers the registration fee, noon meal, and refreshments.
Now, I know we have several churches that could and should be considered turnaround churches. A turnaround church could be described as a church that has plateaued or is in decline, but there is a sense that God really wants to do something in that place. Not all plateaued or declining churches can be considered a turnaround situation. This seminar will help you assess your turnaround potential.
We ought to have a couple dozen of our churches respond to this opportunity by sending their pastor and several key laypersons. You can request a registration form by responding to this blog with your name and address and how many forms you would like.
For pastors in the UBIC, this seminar will earn .5 CEU credits.
I plan to attend this myself and I hope to see many of you there as well.
We have plateaued and/or declining churches that if they do not develop a turnaround ministry, they probably will eventually die. And in many cases that isn’t necessary. But they must refocus their ministry and become culturally relevant to their community.
Will you come? Not can you come? But will you? I trust you will!

Jeff Dice, associate pastor at Brown Corners Church in Clare, Mich., will lead his third short-term team to Nicaragua June 9-19. This is part of Brown Corners’ ongoing partnership with that country. The team will do several small construction projects, some cultural outreach activities, and Bible training. Jeff would like to invite individuals from other churches to join the team. Interested? Call him at 989-386-2702, or send an email to Jeff Dice.

UB Global Ministries is making available two new DVDs which focus on what God is doing around the world in the UB church.

  • Living in Denial. This six-minute video or DVD features Director Gary Dilley reflecting on UBs joining God in the “war effort,” as well as looking ahead to a new work in East Asia, and our desire to stand in the gap with Sierra Leone as they rebuild and prepare for the challenges ahead. This video was made for Self Denial, but is equally suitable for a short UB mission update in your worship service or smaller group setting. Contact Darlene at Global Ministries for a copy.
  • The Philippines and the United Brethren Church. Rev. Mike Brown and Huntington University worked together to produce an introduction to the work and ministry of the United Brethren church in the Philippines.

You can obtain a copy of these DVDs for your church by contact Global Ministries in these ways:

Toll-free Phone: 1-888-622-3019
Email: missions@ub.org