As I ended the last entry, I mentioned my granddaughter. Actually, I have 3 grandchildren: 2 boys and 1 girl. They are probably the most handsome, beautiful, smart, intelligent, thoughtful, and loving children. And did I mention smart?

I don’t get to be with them nearly as much as I would like. My grandsons live in Omaha, Neb. while my granddaughter lives in Wheaton, Ill. But I see them as often as I can. And one of the things that EJ and I are concerned about when we see them is whether or not they have grown. I want their parents to be very sure they see the doctor on a regular basis for checkups including their growth rate. I want to be sure they are healthy and growing. And if they are not growing, is something wrong? That is important to me and to their parents, too, I am sure.

It is interesting that every living thing in God’s creation grows in some form or fashion. If there are the required environmental elements, and if they are healthy, they grow. This growth leads to maturity that in turn leads to reproduction. Funny how that works. And everything grows after its own kind. For example, a seed of corn doesn’t grow apples.

Emmanuel Community Church is sponsoring a golf outing on Sunday, October 1, to benefit UB endorsed missionary Anna Geivett. The outing will be held at the Chestnut Hills Golf Course in Fort Wayne, starting at 1:30. A banquet will be held at 6:30. The total cost is $65 per person (18 holes, cart, and banquet).

USNewsColleges.jpgHuntington University, for the 12th consecutive year, ranks as one of the best comprehensive colleges in the Midwest, according to U. S. News and World Report. The 2007 guide to America’s Best Colleges places HU 16th among 107 institutions in the Midwest Comprehensive Colleges category. Conference rival Taylor University ranked third. Calvin College (Michigan) and St. Mary’s College (Indiana) share the top spot.

Huntington University has made its first foray into distance learning with its Masters of Arts in Youth Ministry Leadership. The program started in October 2005 with three students, and now has 13 students. It involves a combination of distance and online courses, with courses offered in Colorado, Ohio, Florida and other locations near national conferences for youth workers.

This summer, the program earned accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

By offering master’s degree in youth ministry leadership. Each course begins with 30 days of online communication, learning activities, and fellowship. Three days of intense class time follow, giving students and faculty a face-to-face opportunity to discuss, debate, and theorize about relevant ministry topics. The remaining coursework and research activity is facilitated through an additional 60 days of online interaction.

Huntington partnered with Youth Specialties and Youth for Christ to create the program. Classes currently meet in Fort Myers, Fla.; Denver, Col.; Huntington, Ind.; and at one Youth Specialties National Youth Workers’ Convention per year. This year, that convention is in Cincinnati, Ohio. Current students come from Maryland, Texas, Oregon, Georgia, Virginia, Florida, Alabama, Minnesota, Michigan and Ohio.

myers_bob.jpgBob Myers (right), assistant professor of Worship Leadership for Huntington University, has earned his Doctor of Worship Studies from the Institute for Worship Studies in Orange Park, Fla.

Myers came to Huntington in the fall of 2005, joining the Department of Ministry and Missions. He heads up the new Worship Leadership program initiated in 2004. In addition to his doctorate, Myers holds a Master of Music in Choral Conducting from California State University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from Biola University. 

Myers came to Huntington from Sioux City, Iowa, where he served as pastor of worship at Central Baptist Church. As a pastor there since 1997, he planned and led both traditional and contemporary worship, oversaw various vocal and instrumental ensembles, taught classes on worship, and instituted the “Living Christmas Tree,” a program attended by more than 6,000 people each year. His professional experience also includes serving as worship leader for a Promise Keepers gathering.

PraisePoint UB church of Willshire, Ohio, will dedicate its new building on Sunday, September 17, 2006. They sent this announcement and invitation:

“We are beginning a new journey in God’s work with a renewed commitment to show God’s love to the Willshire community and surrounding area.

“In January 2003 the Zion UB Church on Winkler Road and the Willshire UB Church on State Street joined together to become the Willshire Zion UB Church. As a result of that new venture and God’s generous gift, a new facility has been constructed just west of the intersection of Ohio route 81 and US route 33 at the edge of Willshire. The congregation held the first worship service in the new facility as Praise Point UB on January 1, 2006.

“The church family would like to extend a special invitation to you to be a part of this momentous day. Events will begin with the dedication service at 9:30 am, followed by a carry-in dinner, tour of the building 12:30 – 1:15pm, and an afternoon concert featuring ‘Trinity’ at 1:30 pm.”

Just take a minute and list in your mind all the ministries of your church. Preaching, worship, music, Sunday school, youth ministry, etc. You’d probably have a fairly long list. Got all of that in your mind? Good! Now, think of “Why?” I mean, why do you do all that stuff? Be honest now, no fudging! When you have answered that why question, you have the mission or purpose of your church. Some would probably argue that the mission is something else, a phrase in the worship folder or a plaque on the wall. But really, isn’t the answer to the mission question what we are now doing? I mean, if that stuff isn’t about your mission, why are you doing it?

Now think again about all those ministries. Where are they focused? There are three possibilities. One, they are for us. Did you know that 80 – 90% of churches in the US are either plateaued or declining primarily because everything is focused on us, an inward focus. Two, it could be that the ministries are focused on the people who are not here yet. Most churches would not tolerate such a focus. So, three, they could be focused on doing both–on us, and on those who are yet to come. But in this scenario, who would get priority? In these churches, the priority would be on those who are not here yet. But you still do ministry for those who are there. The principle here is powerful. When unchurched people, those who are not there yet, are given priority the church begins to grow.

Now, to what extent is your church focused outward, to include those who are not there yet? The honest answer to that question will tell you a lot about the growth or lack of growth in your church.

Now I suppose the question is, should all churches grow? Well, let me tell you, I have a five-year-old granddaughter….Oh well, that is the subject for another time.

Phil WhipplePhil Whipple (right), senior pastor of Colwood UB church in Caro, Mich., recently participated in a trip to Mozambique. He writes:
“On Wednesday evening, July 16, I joined three people from the Lamotte Missionary Church on a journey to London, England. There we met up with nine others from three different Missionary Churches in Indiana and flew on to South Africa and eventually to northern Mozambique. We arrived on Saturday evening safe and sound and ready for almost anything but a plane ride.

“I preached the first Sunday in Montepuez, a city of 65,000, at a church that was going to work with us to plant a new church in the village of Massigir located 13 kilometers from this church. On Monday and the rest of the week, my teammate and I went to Massigir to do an hour of training, and then we hit the streets of our village to share the story of God’s love to a precious people.

“In our village, over 260 people came to faith in Jesus during the week. The last Sunday I had the privilege of sharing in the brand new church in Massigir. Our total team saw over 1200 people come to trust in Jesus Christ.”

Oswald Chambers observes: The phrase we hear so often, Decide for Christ, is an emphasis on something Our Lord never trusted. He never asks us to decide for Him, but to yield to Him – a very different thing. At the basis of Jesus Christ’s Kingdom is the unaffected loveliness of the commonplace. The thing I am blessed in is my poverty. If I know I have no strength of will, no nobility of disposition, then Jesus says – Blessed are you, because it is through this poverty that I enter His Kingdom. I cannot enter His Kingdom as a good man or woman, I can only enter it as a complete pauper.

The unconscious effort to live before Christ in the most commonplace of events exercises the most influence on others. We moved Jalonna (our daughter) into her own apartment in Wisconsin this past weekend to start a new ministry position on a church staff. Yes, tears were a part of the mix as we left our “little girl” there alone. Saturday, a young mother with three little ones hanging on her, knocked on the door and introduced herself. Jalonna offered to baby sit.

It will be those kind of commonplace interactions and conversations that will open the door for Jalonna to share Christ with those around her. While there may be some events at church that will be helpful for her neighbors to be invited to, the key to reaching them will be the doors of relationship that open into their lives in the mundane interactions Jalonna has with them.

So it is for us all. Is it safe? (Father, mother, grandparents are all asking that about her physical safety) 🙂

Yes. And no. It is challenging and requires some thought and awareness, physically and relationally. But it is worth it because it is the fulfillment of the mission. It is why she (and we) are there.

So today, don’t think about the outcomes, just be like Jesus to those around you and that will be the greatest influence you can have for the Kingdom.