2013 Merge Conference

ImagePowerful ministry takes place in a local church when the leadership is unified around the church’s mission.  To often, though, our leadership teams are are distracted and preoccupied with the immediate needs that constantly arise.  The Merge Conference offers an opportunity for your team to get away together to talk and pray about the significant issues that can get lost in the “daily-ness” of ministry.  During the conference you will have the opportunity to experience God’s presence together in worship.  You will also hear inspiring messages and participate in practical labs that will provide fresh ideas to discuss as you travel home.  These shared experiences and common vocabularies can help you to steward the ministry leadership in your local church even more effectively.

The 2013 Merge Conference features Dick Foth, Jodi Detrick and the worship band from Christ’s Place in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Dick has served as a pastor, and college president.  He is a mentor to Mark Batterson. He currently serves on the teaching team at Timberline Church in Ft. Collins, Colorado and as a minister-at-large in the congressional and diplomatic communities in Washington, D.C.

Jodi is an author (newly released book: The Jesus-Hearted Woman, and columnist for the Seattle Times), Chairperson for the Network for Women in Ministry, and adjunct professor at Northwest University.

Christ’s Place is a dynamic Assemblies of God church located in Nebraska’s capitol city.  Their worship team, led by Mike King will help us to connect with God through Spirit-filled, Jesus-centered worship.

Bring your entire team to the Merge Conference.  You’ll be changed.  Your church and your community will benefit.  I can’t wait to see you there!

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Connecting Introverts

Connecting Introverts

Being an introvert can make connecting difficult. Check out this great post from our National Youth Ministries to discover how to help introverts connect and feel comfortable at church.

Why You Should Attend Discovery Weekend

IMN’s second Acts 2 Journey (A2J) Discovery Weekend is scheduled for June 28 – 29, 2013.  I would strongly encourage you and your leadership team to attend this free weekend.  Why?

  1. Discovery Weekend provides a free opportunity to “test drive” A2J.  You will come away with an assessment of your church’s health and you’ll have plenty to discuss with your leadership team.
  2. It’s an opportunity to meet with your team, providing a shared experience and a common vocabulary to help you steward the leadership of your local church.
  3. Registration is free.  And that includes the lunch on Saturday. (Transportation and lodging are the church’s responsibility.)
  4. The lead pastors and spouses meet with Ron McManus on Friday from 1 to 6 pm to hear some great insights about healthy churches.
  5. The vision team (6-15 leaders you’ve chosen from your church) meets with Ron on Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm.
  6. You and your team can decide whether to participate in the A2J following Discovery Weekend.
  7. Scholarships are available through AG Trust for church’s under 100 in Sunday morning attendance at the start of A2J.
  8. Your vision team will develop your mission, vision, values and action steps to become all that God intends you to be.
  9. Some of your friends have already experienced A2J, and they can give you more information (1st Generation A2J churches include Adel Fusion, Algona Faith, Creston River of Life, Iowa City First, Muscatine First, Mason City First, New Sharon, Newton First, Oskaloosa First, Sioux City Central, Sioux City First).  Feel free to contact the pastors of these churches to get a first-hand account of the experience and the results.
  10. You can discover more at http://www.healthychurchnetwork.com.

Please contact the IMN office (515-276-5493) or email me (tjacobs@imnag.org) for more information.

The Power of Rural Churches

The vast majority of Assemblies of God churches are in rural settings.  Many of these churches are small in number, but mighty in influence.  I am a product of a small, rural church (60 in attendance in a community of 1,100).  While I grew up in a mainline church, I “moonlighted” at the AG youth ministry on Sunday evenings.  I received teaching, fellowship and ministry opportunities that have shaped my life and ministry.  I believe in the local church!  
The Assemblies of God has developed several ministries to assist and add value to rural churches.  Check out this article regarding three of those resources.  Be encouraged!  Your church is producing the next generation of church planters, pastors and anointed lay people who will continues to advance the kingdom!

The following information was released from AG News this week:

Few would call pastoring a small rural church “glamorous.” In fact, for most people, it takes nothing short of an undeniable calling from God to have the faith to step out into the face of what many see as insurmountable odds. Laced with financial, vocational and locational challenges, the small rural church pastor and his family know firsthand the meaning of sacrifice and the times when faith is quite literally all that remains.

Recognizing the caliber of person it takes to embrace the rural church challenge, the Assemblies of God is working to provide increased communication, support and resources to the men and women and their families who minister to rural America.

According to AG Statistician Sherry Doty, many AG churches are small and often rural churches with less than 100 people attending. Doty says that more than 60 percent of all AG churches in the United States have 99 or fewer people attending ‹ well over 7,700 churches!

Key AG-affiliated ministries currently working to specifically meet the needs of the rural church pastor include Rural Compassion, the Healthy Church Network and the online AG Small Church Forum.

Rural Compassion, founded by Steve Donaldson, is now a department of Convoy of Hope. The ministry partners with the Assemblies of God to offer rural churches several levels of help, beginning with the pastor, then the church and finally the community.

“Rural Compassion comes alongside and empowers pastors to dream big dreams for their communities,” states Kim Harvey, U.S. missionary and Rural Compassion team member. “We encourage and counsel the pastor and their church in vital community projects as well as offer ideas and tips we have learned.”

In addition to offering coaching, mentoring and training opportunities to pastors, Rural Compassion supplies materials to help churches reach out to their communities, including school supplies, hygiene kits, food, shoes and even Bibles to give to community leaders such as law enforcement, firefighters and teachers.

“We help the church become the center of their community by becoming a spiritually-based serving center for the benefit of the community,” Donaldson explains. Rural Compassion also comes alongside rural churches in both poverty relief and disaster response situations.

Mike Clarensau, senior director of the Healthy Church Network, says that one of the most impacting resources offered by the Health Church Network is the Acts 2 Journey, with smaller churches being eligible for an AG Trust scholarship.

“Although the Acts 2 Journey is designed for use by churches of all sizes, more than 80 percent of the churches that participate have under 200 in attendance,” Clarensau says. “In the Acts 2 Journey, we work with pastors and leadership teams in achieving the goals of the journey and consult with them by phone and, sometimes, in person.”

Clarensau says that the Healthy Church Network representatives also spend significant time fielding questions.

“There are a multitude of questions that a small rural church pastor may not have a readily available and experienced friend to turn to for an answer,” Clarensau says. “We handle questions concerning conflict situations, church growth, how to assimilate people, how to lead a church in vision and so on.”

In addition, Clarensau writes a weekly blog

(http://www.healthychurchnetwork.net) that focuses mainly on the small church and the department is regularly engaged in research projects designed to better understand how to minister effectively to smaller congregations.

Ministry Coach TV (http://www.ministrycoach.tv), a ministry partner of My Healthy Church, also offers a five-session course on transforming the smaller congregation.

“Through the different avenues of ministry to the smaller church,”

Clarensau says, “we want to bring a renewed hope and discovery of potential to the small church pastor and his congregation. The Ministry Coach TV course, in particular, offers pastors principles that help them to know where to focus their energies and develop a vision for their church.”

Pastors and ministry leaders of small Assemblies of God churches now also have an online haven designed just for them ‹ the AG Small Church Forum Facebook page.

“I see this forum as a place for small church pastors to connect in order to share ideas on ministering in the small church context,”

says Richard Schoonover, “Enrichment” journal associate editor and creator of the Facebook forum page. “I also see it as a place for small church ministers to find encouragement in what others have done and what might work in their communities, to build friendships, prayer support and share resources that could help other ministers.”

Schoonover explains that small churches and the pastors who lead them often have fairly significant financial limitations.

Opportunities for travel, attending conferences, meeting with peers ‹ instances where struggles can be discussed and ideas interchanged ‹ are limited or non-existent. Schoonover sees the creation of AG Small Church Forum as an effort to ease the isolation.

The three ministries agree, however, that simply because a church is small, it doesn’t mean it’s ineffective or not a vital part of its community. In many cases, the opposite is true. But now, this trio of ministries is doing their best to come alongside and help ease some of the challenges the small church pastor experiences.

For more information about Rural Compassion, see its website at http://RuralCompassion.org. To learn more about the Healthy Church Network, go to http://healthychurchnetwork.com. To view the AG Small Churches Forum and request permission to join the group, see its Facebook page at http://s2.ag.org/scforum.

Rejoice!

by Cary Van Kampen

Celebrate

Rejoice in the Lord always! I will say it again, rejoice. Let your gentleness be evident to all—the Lord is near. It is pretty easy to celebrate when good things happen—when things go the way we hoped or planned. But how do we rejoice “always” –when bad things happen and things don’t go as we hoped or planned? We have a little saying around our house; “Problems are God’s opportunities to prove himself.” How can I rejoice the next time trouble comes?

  1. Trust the Lord.
  2. Don’t depend on your own interpretation of events.
  3. Ask God to intervene and be glorified.

Reasons to Celebrate

by Lori Jacobs

Celebrate2

“If we are ever to enjoy life, now is the time, not tomorrow or next year. Today should always be our most wonderful day.” –Thomas Dreier

“Let’s celebrate wins! Who wants to go first?” This is the question Tom asks every week to begin our IMN staff meeting. We never tire of the question or the celebration that follows as our friends share around the table and we all give thanks. Some wins are very personal and some are celebrated as a team. We celebrate big things, little things, church things, and family things. We celebrate babies, graduations, and birthdays. We celebrate finding a bargain, taking vacations, and have even celebrated the passing of a kidney stone. We celebrate everything. Sometimes we cry, but mostly we laugh and enjoy the blessing of living life together, loving God, and serving the wonderful people of Iowa.

December is a perfect month to establish a pattern of celebration. After all, there are so many wonderful things to celebrate! Most importantly we celebrate the birth of Jesus, God with us. This month also brings parties with family and friends, snow, hot chocolate, the end of political ads, turkey, pumpkin pie and gifts (just a few to get you started).

When you are together as a family, eating out with friends, or gathering in the break room at work, start the discussion: “Let’s celebrate wins! Who wants to go first?”

Today I celebrate you–your hearts of compassion, your unselfish service, your kind and encouraging spirits, and your precious friendship in my life. Merry Christmas! Embrace the celebration.

Celebrate!

by Don McGarvey

Celebrate3

Celebrate? I know times are tough. I read the headlines and listen to the news. My head is not stuck in the sand. Times are tough.  It doesn’t make any difference where you live; or how you live. You might come from a big church or small. You may be young or you may be old. Times are tough. And it’s not just you! Times are tough for everyone, tougher for some.  This doesn’t mean we should circle the wagons and become messengers of gloom and doom. That’s not what God’s Word says to do. We are to celebrate! Live with joy! Live with hope! I love the words found in 1 Peter 3:15. We are to live lives full of hope to the point of others wondering what it is we have that they don’t.

The Word of God is full of reasons to celebrate. Let me remind you of four. First of all, God has come to help His people (Luke 7:16). Secondly, God is willing to help (Mark 1:41). Thirdly, with God nothing is impossible (Mark 10:27). Perhaps the best reason to celebrate is “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to YOU!” (Luke 2:11). Now those are reasons to Celebrate! Let the celebrating begin!