Ron Ramsey, Bishop
United Brethren churches do a lot of neat things over the Christmas holidays. 

  • Helping needy families
  • Participating in programs like Operation Christmas Child.
  • Putting on special Christmas programs.
  • Special gifts and recognition for the pastor and staff.

What did your church do this year? Let me know, so we can share it with others.

Ron Ramsey, Bishop
One of the things that leaders do is LEAD. 

We desperately need pastors who will LEAD the congregation or ministry area that God has called you to lead. 

You say, “Well, I can’t.” Then, did God make a mistake in calling you? 

You say, “I don’t know how. “Then learn some skills and begin to practice them. 

We tend to think of the Type A personality who is the natural-born leader. If that doesn’t describe us, then we beg off of leading. No! No! No! If God has called you to a position of leadership, then LEAD. If God has called you to that ministry, he wants you to LEAD.

To me, spiritual leadership involves:

  • Discovering where God wants to take us.
  • Leading in that direction.

How do you discover that? Pray. Read the scriptures. Pray. Read books on leadership. Pray. Study your ministry area to determine what the needs are. Pray. Then LEAD! You may not lead where or how I think you should, but if you’re getting spiritual results, then you won’t get an argument from me.

prayercoach.jpgRon Ramsey, Bishop
The book Prayer Coach came across my desk as a freebie from the publisher, Crossway Books. It is written by James L. Nicodem, pastor of a church in St. Charles, Ill. 

I had laid the book, aside but just picked it up a few nights ago. I haven’t read far, maybe 2-3 chapters, but I did skip to the last chapter. It deals with the subject of Satan and how he tries to stop Christians from praying.
That chapter is based on Ephesians 6, where Paul describes the armored garment Christians are to wear. He describes how Satan wishes to defeat us. That chapter alone is worth the price of the book. 

To me, it is a very refreshing approach to prayer in the life of a believer. It is serious and very practical, not stuffy. This type of book would make an excellent study for a group of men. (Women might find it interesting as well but it does have a sports analogy and Bobby Bowden wrote the forward). 

Anyway, I’d like to suggest that you buy this book. You can order it from Healthy Church Ministries, 1-888-622-3019, if you’d like. And I’d like to have some discussions about the book on the BishopBlog.

I’ll wait a few days until you get a chance to get the book, and then I’ll begin offering some observations about each chapter, starting with chapter 1. Then invite any and all who will to engage in the discussion to jump in. Who know–it might be fun as well as profitable. It might be a way to energize our prayer life.

UBAttendances_500.jpg
(Click on the chart for a larger view.)

Ron Ramsey, Bishop
This chart shows the average attendance in United Brethren churches since 1960. In the United States (the blue lines), we climbed to a high point in the mid-1970s, fell to a low point in the mid-1980s, then gradually grew back to a new high in 2004. What does it all mean?

The sharp decline after 2004 no doubt relates to our efforts to join the Missionary Church, and the aftermath (when a number of churches withdrew). But it looks like we have stopped the hemorrhage, and are growing again (albeit with a smaller number of churches).

Notice the green line, too–the worldwide attendance. Although the United States attendance hasn’t grown very much, the overseas work has done well. And most of our overseas churches are an outgrowth of the US churches.

The ups and downs in charts like this are open to lots of interpretation. Factors such as leadership, emphases, generational changes, and demographics can all play a role. We welcome your own interpretations. Leave a comment.

Ron Ramsey, Bishop
I have been around people who have the gift of leadership. It is apparent. When they enter a room, they just sort of take over, even though they might not be in charge of the meeting.

What if I have been elected, appointed, or drafted into an area of leadership? Does that mean I can do it? I believe so, and here’s why.

Even though I lack the spiritual gift of leadership, I can learn to act in the ways of a leader. No, that doesn’t mean you’re being a hypocrite. After all, I can share my faith with nonbelievers without being endowed with the spiritual gift of evangelism. I can help people in need without possessing the spiritual gift of mercy.
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Ron Ramsey, Bishop
I talk about leadership frequently as I represent the United Brethren church. When I interact with other denominational leaders, we collectively acknowledge that spiritual leadership is probably our number one problem.

If you check with the local Christian bookstore, you will find numerous leadership how-to books. Go to any Barnes & Noble and look at all their titles about leadership.

I recently flew to an engagement. The free magazine in the seat-back pocket contained several ads for books, CDs, DVDs, and college courses on the subject of leadership. Often, the instructors were people I recognized as having a reputation for leadership.
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Ron Ramsey, Bishop

Lots of people finding Christ–that’s what I like to hear about. Please be encouraged by this report from Les Smith, pastor of Hillsdale UB church in Hillsdale, Mich.

In October, our church hosted the Power Team for five nights. It resulted in the conversions of 150 kids and teens and of over 20 adults! They were among 400 decisions for Christ of one form or another.

The attendance grew larger every night with a standing room only crowd of over 700 on the final night, the largest gathering at one time in our church’s history.

The Power Team held assemblies at 11 high schools in Hillsdale County during the day and invited everyone to the Hillsdale UB church for the evening event, where the gospel was presented at the conclusion each night. It had such an impact on our community and beyond, a TV camera crew drove down up from Toledo, Ohio, for interviews of church members, etc.

In exchange for two Power Team T-shirts on the last night, the senior pastor is supposed to lie on a bed of nails with a block of ice put on his chest, which a Power Team member then breaks and the the kids go crazy. Fortunately for me, the team forgot the bed of nails at the previous church in another state, and there wasn’t time to ship it here, so I escaped. But, they still gave me the free t-shirts since it wasn’t my fault.

You can watch the TV news report here.

Ron Ramsey, Bishop
I received this email from George Rhodifer, one of our ministers who has been battling leukemia. We’ve mentioned George several times on this blog, and have asked you to pray for him. Read George’s latest report and be encouraged, as well as reminded of the power of prayer.

I saw my Oncologist Thursday (November 6) and she had a good report on my leukemia. I sat in her examining room while she looked at my records on the computer. She was all smiles and saying mostly to herself, “Yes, that is good.”

Then she said, “Mr. Rhodifer, you won’t believe what I am reading on your progress. You have come a long way. Your Leukemia is now under control–not in remission, but under control.”

She said that she was only going to schedule one more series of chemo, and then see how things look after that. I started a series on Friday, and if everything goes okay, she said she won’t need to see me until December 2 to evaluate my progress.

Bishop, I am so excited about this report. It has to be the prayers that are going up for me, and the confidence that my doctor has encouraged me and my family to have. I know there is no known cure for this, but it could go into remission as God intervenes.

I read on the BishopBlog the really dark place I was in. That I only had a few months to live. Now my new doctor tells me my Leukemia is under control after only one series of chemo. PRAISE THE LORD! I hope  you can put this on your blog as a testimony to the power of God and the good doctors that I have. Yes, I still have a way to go, but the picture is not as bleek. I feel good and have had no side affects to the first series of chemo shots (two a day for ten days). Keep me in prayer.

Yours in His service,
George Rhodifer

Ron Ramsey, Bishop
pouring.jpgLast Sunday at our Imagine This church in Grand Ledge, Mich., I was privileged to watch as 12 people were baptized.

Pastor Gordon Kettel baptized three people in the morning service, all from one family (a couple and a child). They were reached through a VBS which Imagine This took to a mobile home park. They set up grills, grilled hotdogs, and fed kids every night for five nights. During the evening service (the larger of the two services), they baptized another nine people.

They used a blow-up pool with maybe 18 inches of water. The water wasn’t heated. The persons being baptized sat down in the pool, and he bent them back. Gordon baptized two persons by pouring water from a pitcher over their heads.

A lot of the people who have become Christians through Imagine This had no church background. For them, tithing is a foreign concept. But in both services, Gordon explained what tithing means. That impressed me. Many times, that’s the last thing you want to talk about in a church plant, but he’s bold about it.

Ron Ramsey, Bishop
kettel.jpgI spent last Sunday with the Imagine This LLC congregation in Grand Ledge, Mich. Over the next few days, I want to share some of my thoughts and observations about this new United Brethren church.

Grand Ledge is a small bedroom community just east of Lansing. The church started a little over a year ago, on October 21, 2007. The pastor is Gordon Kettel (right, with his wife Lori).

They hold two services–at 10:00 Sunday morning and at 6 p.m. When they started a year ago, sharing a building with three other church groups, the only time available was Sunday night. The evening service attracted a number of people, so when they moved into their own building a few months ago, they decided to keep the evening service.
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