On July 8, Les and Linda Smith moved out of the parsonage at Hillsdale UB (Hillsdale, Mich.), so that it can be renovated into an office complex; the attached garage will become a conference room/classroom. The Smiths have lived next door to each of the three UB churches they have served during the past 25 years.

Currently, two staff members must share one office and a part-time pastor does not have one. The six offices at the church are scattered throughout the building in four areas. The new office complex will provide an office for each staffperson. The new office for Pastor Les will be his former bedroom.

Hillsdale UB has two Sunday morning services in two locations of the church–a more traditional service in the sanctuary and a contemporary service in the Worship Center (gym). For three years, 400 chairs have been setup and taken down each week for the second service. The parsonage renovation will allow the church offices to be used for additional lobby space and will relieve the bottleneck between services.

Two new parking lots have just been completed. One was a large expansion of the existing lot at the rear of the church, while the other replaced the front lawn of the former parsonage, so visitors to the new office complex will be able to park close by.

In June, Hillsdale completed a 40 Days of Purpose Campaign. Prior to the campaign, the congregation had eight home groups with about 80 participants. During the six-week campaign this number grew to more than 400 participants meeting in over 40 small groups. This included about three-quarters of the adult congregation as well as a number of unchurched people. Most of the groups are continuing to meet despite the end of the 40 days, while others plan to resume in the fall.

At the Ministry Fair held on the fifth Sunday of the campaign, around 350 signed up to serve in one or more of the dozens of ministry opportunities being offered both within the church and community.

Gary Dilley, Director of Global Ministries, 2001-2008

Mt. Pleasant UB church in Chambersburg, Pa., is partnering with a UB church in Mexico that has a big vision to make a difference in a city of 70,000 people. But they are wondering, “Could we work with other UB churches in North America that share our interest in Mexico? We would enjoy working with others and not just doing this on our own.” They have asked Global Ministries to work as a “clearinghouse” for churches and individuals interested in partnerships and ways God’s people can work together.

In a similar way, the Brown Corners UB church in Clare, Mich., has a passion for helping our churches in Nicaragua. The UB church in Fowlerville, Mich., is highly focused on church planting work in the Copan region of Honduras. Salem Chapel in southeast Ohio has involved itself with the new churches in San Jose, Costa Rica. A new church plant, Bethany House of the Lord, in Cumberland, MD, has intentionally sought to enhance kingdom work in Africa and India. These are just a few examples.

Working as partners enables you to do things you could never do on your own as a “Lone Ranger.” It’s a joy to watch UB churches work alongside each other, and alongside churches in other parts of the world. It may be helpful to know who else shares your church’s specific passions. This might also provide the opportunity to do a work team together, or to join forces to accomplish a specific project.

People in your church may have a passion for sports outreach ministry, and you wonder if other UB churches feel the same way, and if that can be used in cross-cultural ministry? Or perhaps your passion is in children’s ministry or music, or medical outreach, or leadership development, or in helping pastors’ families. The list could go on.

I’d love to get UB churches connected so they can do things like this together. Global Ministries is developing some ideas along this line, and plan to use the UBMissions.com website to help churches network with each other over places and projects. You’ll be hearing more about this. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you about specific missions-related interests your church may have, whether it involves a country or a type of ministry.

Years ago, Denny Miller, Bob Bruce and I traveled together to attend seminary at Evangelical School of Theology in Myerstown, Pa. Denny and Bob would pick me up along the way and from my home we would alternate driving so we shared the gas expense. It became apparent after a while that there was a clear difference in how quickly we arrived at the school depending on who was driving. I won’t elaborate the difference, but it was clear. Keep that thought in mind.

Now picture your church as a car. There are four people, or entities, in the car. One is vision. One is relationships. One is management. And the final one is programs. There are two main drivers in the car: vision and management. The progression of the journey will be dependent upon who is driving.

When vision is driving the church, relationships are up front riding shotgun and they work closely together. Management and programs are along for the ride but the focus is on how vision is setting the pace and relationships assist the vision. It is exciting, focused, fun, and enjoyable. The journey “feels” exciting and breeds anticipation. You always wonder what the Lord is going to bring around the corner.

But when ministry in a church gets sidetracked, and vision is not clearly communicated or existent, suddenly management moves into the driver’s seat and programs hop up front with it. The high priority becomes preserving what is as opposed to seeking and driving toward what God desires. Policies, procedures, processes and programs become the focal point now. Vision sinks into the background and relationships along with it. The atmosphere becomes strained, deliberate, slow, and discouraging. The machine may even seem to be running well, but the vehicle is slowly moving nowhere.

This can be further defined using two other words: fruitfulness and faithfulness. We can be faithful to having the same few people attend, giving money, and showing some level of care to each other and never be fruitful at all. We are simply “managing” those who are already there. Our focus is inward. And there is no fruit.

But Jesus in John 15 said that we would (and should) produce lasting fruit. Fruitfulness is reproduction. Reproduction is seeing new people come to know Christ and eventually assisting in multiplying new congregations. Faithfulness is important and necessary. But faithfulness without fruitfulness is death.

So who is driving your church? Is a clear, outward-focused vision driving, enhancing and encouraging growing relationships? Or is the major focus managing and programming your church, with vision and relationship taking a back seat?

Whoever is driving will determine where, how and when you will arrive at a destination. They will also determine what your destination is. There is a way that seems right to a man, but it leads to death.

In 1989, Rev. Robert and Dawn Pelley, along with two daughters, were murdered in the parsonage of the Olive Branch UB church in Lakeville, Ind. On July 10, son Jeff Pelley is scheduled to go on trial for the murders.

dadwithpeople_500

Don Dennie (above) and his wife, Gloria, concluded their ministry at Olive Branch UB (Lakeville, Ind.) on July 2. The congregation held an appreciation dessert night on June 29, and after the service on July 2, over 40 people went to a nearby restaurant for a going-away meal.

The Dennies first came to Lakeville in 1989, serving there for six years. They returned in an interim capacity in August 2002, and two months later were officially stationed there for what became another four-year stint. They have now moved back to their home in Fort Wayne, Ind.