Powerful 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!
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.
Do you have questions about Merge? We have a video that should answer (almost) all of your burning Merge questions!
Also, you could win an iPad simply by registering for Merge today (plus, you’ll get the best rate possible). For more information, including online registration, visit http://www.imnag.org/merge.
We’re offering several labs designed specifically for you and your church leadership team:
Intergenerational Ministry | Justin Lathrop Healthy churches are made up of people in different stages of life. We have so much to gain by learning from each other across generational lines. Join Justin Lathrop as he outlines some of the benefits and strategies for overcoming the obstacles of intergenerational ministry.
Pastor/Board Relationships | Tom Jacobs The structure, relationship, and communication of a pastor and board impact the health and life of the church. Discover keys to developing a healthy board dynamic.
Weekend Experience | George P. Wood Each weekend is an opportunity to impact your community. George P. Wood will provide resources and ideas to maximize that impact.
Risk Management | LeAnne Krell Leading a church is becoming more complicated. Rev. LeAnne Krell will share some keys to optimizing best practices and managing risk in the local church.
Conflict Management | Gary Pilcher & Darrel Forslund Conflict can slow Kingdom progress or it can catalyze growth. Discover how to manage and leverage conflict in your church.
Team Building | Rich Greene A team with great chemistry can accomplish more for the Kingdom of God! Pastor Rich Greene (North Liberty, Iowa) will share some keys to building a dynamic ministry team.
Sermon Preparation | George P. Wood Discover keys to effectively communicate biblical truth within the context of your community.
Becoming the Best Church for your Community | Justin Lathrop Striving to become the best church in your community can be very tempting; however, we are called to become the best church for our community. Discover how that small difference can make a huge impact for the Kingdom of God.
For more information about Merge, including a complete schedule, list of labs, and presenter information, visit http://www.imnag.org/merge. Be sure to register by this Friday, September 7th, for the best rate and a chance to win a new iPad!
by Ebon Carter
My first staff position in a church was as a youth pastor. I was wet behind the ears, but full of ambition. It’s in my nature. There were numerous projects around the church that I was capable of doing, so I dug in.
Looking back I am grateful for a pastor who found me on a Sunday morning running around getting the sound system just perfect, making sure the lights and A/C were just right, and getting the worship team ready to go. He saw something in me brewing. That morning he took me under his wing and began to teach me to “take time and smell the roses.” He was teaching me to enjoy the ride.
I quickly realized that my focus was causing me to miss the beauty of God’s work I was participating in. God is allowing us to participate in the great adventure with a front row seat. We get to enjoy the ride. I can’t wait for what is next!
The Iowa Ministry Network is hosting our first Merge Conference at Des Moines Berean Assembly of God on September 28-29. The conference is called Merge for a couple of reasons:
First, we are merging the e2 and Red Culture Leadership Conferences into one local church leadership conference.
Second, we are focused on merging all of our local church leadership training into one Holy Spirit-inspired event. Our hope is that the entire leadership team from your church will attend Merge together to provide a shared vocabulary and a common experience.
Shared vocabulary. The labs and plenary sessions at Merge will give insights to ministry challenges and opportunities. Hearing about those insights as a team will help to create catalysts for conversations with your team members. So, pack as many team members as you can (legally) into each vehicle and plan to have ministry-oriented conversations as you travel to and from the Merge Conference.
Common experience. Merge will provide opportunities for your team to uniquely experience God together. We’re praying that the Holy Spirit will move upon your team through the worship and teaching, and that, together, you will be transformed by the power of God.
As you and your team return home with a shared vocabulary and a common experience you will be well-positioned to facilitate a fresh move of God in your local church. We can’t wait to see what God does!
Be sure to register by September 7th to receive the early bird rates. The more leaders you bring, the better the rate. Bring your staff, deacons, youth leaders, children’s leaders, Royal Ranger leaders, Girls Ministries leaders, Sunday school teachers, small group leaders, worship team, and anyone else who leads or has the potential to lead in your church. Register a bunch of people soon!