The annual Mid-Atlantic Pastoral Resource Day will be held November 8-9 at Rhodes Grove Camp near Chambersburg, Pa.

The event begins 7-9 pm Sunday night, November 8, with a Fireside Chat with Bishop Phil Whipple and Dr. Anthony Blair of Eastern University of St. Davids, Pa.

On Monday morning, Bishop Whipple will give devotions. The rest of the day, 9 am – 4 pm, will focus on the topic “Addiction in the Pews: Understanding the secret struggles of addiction and how to bring ‘hope to the hopeless.” The presenter will be Carol Reinertson, formerly director of the Addiction Studies Program in the Campolo College of Graduate and Professional Studies of Eastern University.

martinez_guillermoGuillermo Martinez, former superintendent of Nicaragua Conference, passed away about 1 p.m. on September 18, 2009. He was suffering from stomach cancer.

Marilyn Reeck, UB endorsed missionary in Honduras, writes, “I visited  him and his children around 2 hours before he died. I was able to pray for him and for his children. It was a blessing. Otoniel, Sarah, and Heather live here and Esther arrived a few days ago form Guatemala. Guillermito was on his way from Nicaragua and will only make it in time for the funeral.”

newsboys_smallSTAR 88.3 and Huntington University have partnered to present an evening of music and message with the Newsboys at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 18, at Fort Wayne’s Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.

The Newsboys, with new lead singer Michael Tait, have teamed up with Global Tribe to travel the U.S. to bring an event called “Reach” to various cities. “Reach” partners with local radio stations, community ministries and neighborhood churches to bring the Gospel message to towns across America and beyond. This ministry is wrapped up in a Newsboys concert that includes a Gospel presentation followed by a call for new believers to connect with a local church.

Seventh Day Slumber, Meinmotion, Bread of Stone, and In Honor of Him will join the Newsboys for “Reach’s” Fort Wayne event.

No tickets are needed for “Reach.” A suggested donation of $10 will be taken at the door, although no one will be turned away for the inability to give.

Organizers also will collect nonperishable food items for the Associated Churches Food Bank.

Newsboys has 14 albums, a score of Grammy and Dove awards, seven gold albums and 21 number one songs to their credit.

Chris Moore has been named senior pastor of Mount Zion (Bobo) UB church near Willshire, Ohio. This church is a part-time position.

Chris previously served on staff at Emmanuel UB (Fort Wayne, Ind.) and Good Shepherd UB (Huntington, Ind.). His wife, Brenda, holds a fulltime job in Fort Wayne.

Harold Wust passed away early Thursday morning, September 17. He had been battling a final attack of leukemia and had been home with family for the past few days.

Harold served as a missionary in Honduras for many years, and later as Associate Director of Missions for the denomination. His son Dan and daughter Lynn Razor have also served as missionaries in Honduras.

Here are the arrangements:

Visitation: Sunday, September 20, at Myers Funeral Home in Huntington, Ind.
Time: 2-4 pm and 6-8 pm.
Funeral service: Monday, September 21, at Good Shepherd UB church in Huntington, Ind.
Time: 2 pm, with visitation one hour before the service.

Franklin Graham of Samaritan’s Purse recently visited Iraq and reports the following.

“You may seen stories about the recent wave of bombings, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Iraqi believers are living in constant fear of violent persecution. Extremists have used the most vicious tactics in their attempt to destroy the Church of Jesus Christ, including the brutalizing of women and children. Recent military and political gains in the country have not brought security. In fact, the threat to the Iraqi church has never been greater.” He goes on the share that more than 50 churches have been bombed since 2004.

The only reason Rafa attended church was to, as thieves put it, “case the joint.” His drug addiction demanded a constant supply of money, and he had heard that the local Hermanos Unidos en Cristo Church on the outskirts of San Jose, Costa Rica, had an expensive sound system.

As he entered the church, he was immediately greeted by people who seemed genuinely concerned for him. Most of his life, he had a growth on his neck that was then the size of a football, drawing stares and greatly affecting his self-image. However, no one at the church seemed to notice.

Within a few days, Pastor Erik Rojas visited with him. He too seemed genuinely concerned for Rafa, and the following Sunday he decided to attend the church’s services again. Within a few months, Rafa gave his heart to Jesus. The thief met the Savior at the cross.

Within months after Rafa’s conversion, the congregation raised money to pay for the expensive surgery to remove the tumor that had been such a burden through the years. Rafa was told by the surgeon that he could lose his ability to speak as a result of the procedure. However, the church prayed, and his voice was spared.

“I know that God spared my voice for a reason,” Rafa told me. “Now I’m using my voice to testify to the Lord’s mercy, and I’ve committed my life to proclaim the gospel.”

Dave Knittle from Spencerville, Ohio, was killed in a motorcycle/car accident Friday morning, September 11, on his way to work. Dave is the son of retired minister Carey Knittle, a longtime pastor in the United Brethren church. Dave’s sister is Amy Riddle, wife of Dave Riddle, who has been pastor of Element UB church in Blissfield, Mich. Dave Knittle’s son is in the military in Colorado and has been ill. The entire family would appreciate your prayers.

Each year we start out with 52 weekends where we have the opportunity to gather with other believers and seekers. We get the chance to show off our God and to bring glory to him. Those 52 weekends seemed to crawl along when I was young, but now they race by with increasing speed.

I want to encourage each of our churches to take a good look at your worship services and to do all that you can to maximize their effectiveness. There is no such thing as a throw-away Sunday.  We only have 52. Somebody might only come into your church once. Make sure that you have prayed like it is the last service you might have. Eternal destinies are at stake.

It is not all on our shoulders. But it is imperative that we do our part to pray, plan, and strategize about what you are doing on the weekend. Then trust God and leave the results in his hand. It is an amazing partnership that God allows us to be a part of. To join united with the Spirit of God to see lives transformed by the gospel.

I’m in Chicago attending MinistryCOM, an annual conference for Christian communications professionals. Nearly everyone is on staff at a megachurch. They are a tech-savvy bunch. They carry laptops, consult smartphones, use Twitter and Facebook, write and read blogs. Very connected. And highly competent.

This is my fourth year attending MinistryCOM. I always learn valuable stuff.

Yesterday I attended the “Branding 101” workshop, something they do every year. The topic of branding crops up constantly. Large churches focus a lot of attention on their brand identity–how they are perceived, and the experience people have in attending. This was my third time attending Branding 101. Today, it was led by two guys from CHANGEffect, a Christian firm based in Chicago. They hit the subject from some new angles.

Here’s one thought I found interesting. It concerns our consumer mentality.

They said we often present Christ as a transaction–you accept Christ, you get a ticket to heaven. But we shouldn’t be surprised, then, that so many of our people take the attitude, “What does the church do for me?”

Isn’t that true? Our pews are filled with folks who just take take take, and if they don’t like the meal you provide, they complain. Like people griping because their steak is medium and they asked for medium well.

Rather than view themselves as consumers, people need to understand that they are becoming part of a movement. They need to view themselves as citizens, rather than as consumers. They are citizens of a community to which they belong, and in which they have responsibilities.

In your church, do you have consumers or citizens?

They also cited several trends in society which churches need to adapt to. Let me mention two of them.

  • We need to move from products to experiences. Products meet needs. Experiences fulfill desires. What are people experiencing at your church? To reach younger generations, you need to provide a total experience, not just a collection of well-done elements.
  • From communication to dialogue. Communication involves telling. Dialogue is sharing; it’s two-way. When people attend your church, are they just sitting there watching the show, or is there interaction?