PhilDarleneBurkett_150.jpgGlobal Ministries is bracing for the absence of Darlene Burkett, their hard-working, multi-tasking, highly organized administrative assistant. Tomorrow, March 17, she undergoes serious back surgery at Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne, Ind.

The operation is scheduled for 1 p.m., and might last up to four hours. Darlene will then be out of the office for at least several weeks. There may be some conflict between when she wants to come back (sooner) and when doctors say she can come back (later). We’ll see.

Darlene has endured back pain for several years. Please remember Darlene in your prayers–that the surgery will be successful, and the pain will come to an end.

On a positive note: a big congratulations to Phil Burkett, Darlene’s husband, who is Minister of Worship at College Park Church in Huntington, Ind. This weekend, Phil was notified that he can add the title “Dr.” to his name (the Dr. Phil jokes began a long time ago). He received his Doctorate of Worship Studies from the Institute of Worship Studies in Jacksonville, Fla. (founded by Robert Webber). In the coming weeks, Doctor Burkett will spend a lot of time taking care of his convalescing wife.

Every Monday and Thursday, we tally up the registrations and reports that have come in, and let you know. We post XLR8 registrations and report totals here, and post the XLR8 numbers on the US National Conference website.

As of yesterday, the end of the day, the XLR8 registrations looked like this:

  • 360 people registered.
  • 70 registered for the UB Historical Society Banquet (which promises to be very well attended).
  • 31 signed up for the Golf Outing.
  • 63 are children and teens.

The deadline for all reports is March 15, just a few days away. Here are the new totals:

  • 138 local church annual reports (out of about 200 churches). Any church not submitting the church report by March 15 will not be allowed representation at National Conference. Looks like we’ll have a few of those, unfortunately.
  • 121 referenda results.
  • 120 national conference covenants.
  • 115 notifications of local church delegates (just send Bishop Ramsey a note using the Contact link on the right).

All of these numbers were sent to the denominational email list yesterday afternoon. If you’re not on that list, you can join.

Camp Adeline is a small summer camp currently operated by several UB churches from the former Rock River Conference. The camp is located at the edge of Adeline, Ill. (a little west of Rockford, which is west of Chicago).

The Camp Adeline board is requesting help with two projects. They are looking for short-term work crews to come and help with the following:

  1. Remove the top floor from an existing two-story building and convert the remaining structure into a maintenance garage.
  2. Replace the windows around the top perimeter of the tabernacle. This is quite high and will involve some roofing.

Teams will have lodging provided at the camp and will have access to a kitchen to prepare their own meals while there. Material costs will be covered by the camp.

For more details, interested groups should call Don Hubbard, President of the Camp Adeline Board at 815-225-7638.

This is an excellent opportunity for mission service within the United States!

On the right side, just below the XLR8 logo, you’ll see a new heading: “Recent Comments.” People sometimes comment on articles that have been posted for a while. The most recent comments appear at the top, regardless of how old the original article is.

Only ten comments are listed on the side, but there is a link to show all comments posted to this blog since we redesigned it last May.

Michele Vigil, Student and Discipleship Pastor, Hillsdale UB (Hillsdale, Mich.)

Last month I went on an all-day conference and heard David Kinnaman, the author of the book Unchristian, speak on the research he and the Barna group have been doing with young people between 18-29 years old. vigil_michelle.jpgAlthough most of our teens are younger than that, I found the information valuable as we seek to understand a generation that is growing more and more skeptical of God and the things of the church. These are my thoughts on this book, and the topic it explores.

Not a week goes by that I don’t get questions in youth group or Sunday school about God being real. Things like–

  • “Does He really listen to our prayers?”
  • “How can a God that loves us allow such horrible things to happen in the world?”
  • Or my favorite, and most frequently asked, “If God is really a loving God, why are Christians so mean and judgmental?”

We hear these questions, or versions of them, time and time again in our own youth ministry. They are in fact, just a small sampling of the greater youth culture’s growing opinion about Christianity and the God we serve. Understanding the culture we serve and the culture that will lead the future church is vital.

Young people are all about conversation. Many will not even give you or what you are saying the time of day, without a relationship of trust built between you. That is why these statistics are so discouraging to me. According to this study:

  • 58 million young people under the age of 40 consider themselves non-Christians in our country.
  • 85-87% of that population feel Christians are judgmental and hypocritical.

Among young Christians, the statistic is not much better. 52% of church-going young people feel the church is too negative and judgmental. I am not saying these opinions are right, but they are real.
As I ponder these statistics, I wonder if this perception is somewhat of our own doing. Are we so focused on shouting the truth at the world that we fail to balance that with love and a genuine commitment to building a relationship with outsiders, without an agenda?

Have we lost the thrust of the gospel? Did not Jesus teach in the temple AND sit and eat with sinners? I wonder if we have gotten so comfortable teaching and preaching, that we have forgotten to sit and eat.

Trust me, I am not about compromising truth; and I am not about watering down the need for a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ. I am just struggling with how far I often feel we as believers have strayed from the example Jesus set in the gospels. Truth, spoken in love. Free-will allegiance, not forced servitude. And most importantly, a desire for authentic relationships, with those we are comfortable with and those we are not.

This seems to me to be how God the father presented himself to his people, through his son Jesus.

I found this to be an excellent book. If you are interested in learning more about what non-Christians tend to feel about God and the church today, it is well worth the time spent. It has challenged me, upset me, and moved me to evaluate, once again, my approach to a generation that seems to care less and less for a God that cared so much for them.

Roger Reeck, UB endorsed missionary in Honduras, left Honduras a few days ago to attend the funeral of his oldest brother in Michigan. Both he and Marilyn will fly to Trinidad later today–Roger from Michigan, Marilyn from Honduras.

Here is some information from the latest newsletter from Roger and Marilyn Reeck, UB endorsed missionaries living in Honduras.

Now that we are moving in to consultant roles our Wycliffe leaders are asking us to travel to several places. Our last trip was to Mexico. On March 10 we leave for Trinidad/Tobago to help facilitate at a Storying Workshop for people from several Caribbean countries. Yvette from Belize will be joining us as a facilitator also.

After just a few weeks home Roger will travel to Mexico(to the Zapotec town that we used to live in ) and carry on a similar type of workshop. Then we travel to the US where we plan to spend a few weeks at churches in the midwest. At the moment the plan is for Roger to study to improve his Hebrew in Israel during June and July.

Next stop is Africa-Guinea Bissau where Marilyn will meet up with him there. Back home to Honduras in the fall but still be two more trips–to Belize and Brazil.

Dr. David Jeremiah is having a pastors’ breakfast in conjunction with an appearance in South Bend, Ind., on Thursday, April 2. Perhaps you’re interested. Here’s the description:

All pastors are in need of encouragement and replenishment. Having shepherded a church for more than thirty years, no one knows this better than David Jeremiah. His desire is to build you up and minister to you, so that you might go back to your congregation with a renewed desire to share the Word of God with strength and conviction.

This breakfast will be held at the College Football Hall of Fame.

John Christopher, senior pastor of Brooklyn Park UB (Baltimore, Md.), sent this report:

It has been a long time coming but we can say, “The roof is going up!” We have finally come to the point of covering the addition. Now we can get the electric run and start setting up the basement.

Once we get everything set up, get ready for a day of celebration. We will be inviting a crowd for our Grand Opening and Dedication Program. Since the weather is getting better, we will pull out the grills and smokers and have a blast. We will be inviting some special people to provide special music that will help us praise the Lord for what he has helped us accomplish.

My heart is full of joy and my eyes are even now filled with tears just sharing this blessed news with all of you. Your prayers, donations, and encouragement through some of our tough times have helped made the expansion of this ministry possible. You helped us become a more effective ministry for some very needy children and teens. This will help us make a greater impact on our community.

Before going home last night, we updated the numbers on the homepage of the US National Conference site. They now show:

  • 296 total registrants (with the registrations that came in during the night, we’re over 300).
  • 67 persons registered for the UB Historical Society banquet.
  • 28 persons registered for the golf outing.
  • 46 teens and children registered.

We also have updates on the reports coming into the office. The deadline for all of these is March 15. As of March 9, Bishop Ron Ramsey had received:

  • 120 local church reports.
  • 109 reports from churches about their referendum results.
  • 103 signed local church covenants.