We encourage churches to adopt a governance system. What does that mean? 

In a management model, the board says, “Pastor, you’re responsible to lead, but you can’t do anything without our permission.” When you’re given responsibility, but not authority to act, it’s called a bureaucracy.

One pastor needed board approval before he could buy something which was already in the budget. “That doesn’t make sense,” he told them. They said they honestly hadn’t thought of it that way. 

The governance system (which is explained in the book “Winning on Purpose”), follows this pattern: the board governs, the pastor leads, the staff manages, and the people minister. 

The pastor is given responsibility with authority–but there is accountability. Most boards control how the pastor does ministry. But in churches that have adopted the governance system, we’ve heard pastors say, “I’ve never been more free to lead, but I’ve never been held this accountable.” 

Here’s a short video from Imagine This, our new church plant in Grand Ledge, Mich. Gordon Kettel, the pastor (and narrator), explains, “Our team put this video together to compare some of the “big” moments in life with THE big moment. We really don’t give it much thought when advertisers tell us what is really important. They will pick and prioritize the stuff in this world. Then we take their stuff and try to make it our stuff. This video is meant to get our eyes off of what we could have and remind us what we already have.”

I heard  a complaint, though to me it was a compliment. Someone said, “We heard you talk, then we heart Pat Jones talk, and we heard the same thing.”

So? That’s the way it should be.

I wouldn’t have wanted to do this job without Pat Jones, the Director of Healthy Church Ministries. He’s a great asset. I want you to know that we’re locked at the hip. If you get one, you get the other. Pat and I don’t have secrets–what he knows, I know. This relationship has been a great thing for me. We keep each other halfway decent.


Polly and her daughters.

Polly Dunten is home, after undergoing surgery last Monday to remove a brain tumor. She spent two more days than expected at the Cleveland Clinic, but on Saturday she made the three-hour trip back to Findlay, Ohio. Her husband, Darwin, pastor of First UB church in Findlay, sent me this note yesterday (and there’s more on Polly’s blog).

Currently, Polly is resting at home. She has vertigo very bad and has double vision. In the near future, Polly will have to meet with an optical neurologist. She will also have physical therapy in the next few weeks. Currently, she is using a walker and a wheelchair to get around. The doctor stated that Polly will be out of commission for at least two months.

Bishop, I cannot thank the UB church enough for the support we received during the past month.  We were contacted by individuals from all over the world. Brooks Fetters also contacted us (he had a surgery similar to this 14 years ago). He spent an hour and a half on the phone with Polly and really helped her prepare for this surgery. We received notes of encouragement from pastors who went through much worse situations with their wives in recent years than what I went through. I know it was tough for them, but it was encouraging.

God was really with us. Scriptures really came to life during this past week. I am reminded of Romans 8:25-27 and the intercession of the Holy Spirit; the power of holding up the leader as seen by Moses, Aaron, and Hur; and the power of intercessory prayer when the individual is so weak to continue.

Last Sunday, we had an anointing service for Polly following church. Polly and I talked on the way to Cleveland and we both had the same reaction. We were so emotionally exhausted that we were numb during the service. It was the church that held us up. Not only our church but the UB church.

We also learned the importance of worship. We continued to listen to worship songs during this time. That was extremely comforting and uplifting.

Thank you and the church for your support. We have seen God work. We have seen the grace and mercy of God this past week. I am thankful and I praise the Lord.

We were prepared to praise the Lord regardless of the outcome. We know that God is using this situation for his glory. We have already seen good as a result. We are thankful for the outcome and we are thankful to you the church and the Lord.

globalkids_150.jpgGlobal Ministries has published “Global Kids,” which is designed to teach children about missions, and particularly the world of United Brethren missions. It’s available now for $25, and you can order online. A number of churches have already ordered copies.

  • 130 pages
  • For children ages 4-12
  • Information about UB missionaries–how they became missionaries, where they work, etc.
  • Information about our various national conferences.
  • Worksheets, activities, photos, games, and other resources.
  • Could be used to supplement midweek or other children’s materials.

Here are two comments people made about new music sung in church. Both are taken from Dan Kimball’s blog.

“I am no music scholar, but I feel I know appropriate church music when I hear it.  Last Sunday’s new hymn–if you can call it that–sounded like a sentimental love ballad one would expect to hear crooned in a saloon. If you insist on exposing us to rubbish like this–in God’s house!–don’t be surprised if many of the faithful look for a new place to worship. The hymns we grew up with are all we need.”

“What is wrong with the inspiring hymns with which we grew up? When I go to church, it is to worship God, not to be distracted with learning a new hymn.  Last Sunday’s was particularly unnerving.  The tune was un-singable and the new harmonies were quite distorting.”

The first comment was written in 1863 in reference to the hymn “Just As I Am.” The target of the second comment, from 1890, was “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”

Jim Ellifritt (right) is an ordained United Brethren minister in Washington, who formerly pastored our church in Vancouver, Wash., and served for many years as the Northwest Conference superintendent. He is also a lieutenant colonel in the Army reserves.

Jim reports that he was recently stationed at Fort Lewis, about 120 north of Vancouver, where he and his wife live. He writes:

Looks like I will be home once a week for a day and then Deb will try to come up weekly once I get my lodging squared away. She still prefers two years here verses a year in the desert. [Jim has served in Afghanistan while his son, Jim Jr., simultaneously served in Iraq.]

They have given me a Battalion Command at Fort Lewis. It is a rare opportunity commanding fulltime as a reservist, so I am honored. They have had there struggles here, so pray I am up to the task. We are responsible for training all the small units going to Iraq and Afghanistan and other locations as needed. The training is for 40 days straight and we work 365 days a year, so there is an intense management process.

I am looking around again for a church to plug into here or a Bible study. I have one to check out tonight.

Below is a list of humorous “Lessons I’ve Learned,” which Jim wrote in 2004 while serving in Afghanistan.

  • After 15 days, you really need to bathe all parts of your body. No matter how many baby wipes and how much baby powder you use, your body sticks to itself! And you really smell!
  • You can wash from head to toe with five pints of water.
  • Being shot at is highly over-rated.
  • A three-week-old newspaper is still better than no news.
  • A cup of Starbucks coffee will make most days begin civilized.
  • Eating with local nationals is a privilege and a challenge.
  • Drinking Chi (tea) out of an unwashed cup probably won’t kill you. Same with eating off unwashed plates.
  • Lots of places cook and eat food that is very different. Goat brains are really gross looking!
  • Imodium or Kaopectate is your friend. After a week of the trots, a little pill makes you mighty happy!
  • When the nearest church is three hours away through “Indian country,” it’s still worth the drive.
  • Letters from home can be read over and over, and usually are.
  • Phone calls home are worth whatever it costs.
  • People can live on less than $40 per month.
  • The finest soldiers in the world are the young men and women representing America.
  • God is in charge no matter where you are in the world or what the dominant religion is.
  • One wife is better than four even if your religion allows it (Islam allows 4).
  • No woman looks good in a burka.
  • Electricity is for the weak. But it sure is nice to have.
  • Expensive health care is better than no health care at all.
  • Girls should go to school.
  • You really can spend $1,000,000 in seven months and still have barely scratched the surface when it comes to humanitarian aide.
  • Sand buggers are just part of life. Get ready to dig daily.
  • There is nothing like the smell of burning human fecal matter (we burn ours daily).
  • Running at 5200 feet is a challenge physically.
  • Afghans are the most hospitable people in the world.
  • Knowing a few Phastoo words opens many doors.