Wednesday, July 22, 2009


With a major turning point coming in our lives, I began to reflect on the past and being analytical by nature I began to figure some things out. What got me started was leaving West Michigan District after 31 years of ministry. I wondered, how much of my life have I spent in the WMD? A: 55.4%. And, how much of my total ministry to date? A: 88.6%!

Then my mind turned to more important things. How much of my life has been spent married to Marcia? A: 64.3%. I remember at age 40 thinking that I had then been married half my life. Now it is well over that and it truly does get better with age.

It started out with a flirtation in the library at Owosso College, a first date, meeting the parents and getting past the big brother. I remember our first separation, when she went to Spain with a class trip. It must have been during that time that I realized I had something pretty special, because after that trip, the relationship deepened.

Over the years we have had a lot of laughs and we added some yesterday. It was our 36th anniversary and we had a great time just being together. We’ve gone through some really tough times, and there are surely more ahead. But if I could go back to those early days and start over again, I’d go back to Owosso, apply for a job in the library, so I’d have the chance to do it all again. If she’d have me.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Leaving WMD

First off, WMD is West Michigan District of the Wesleyan Church. It dawned on me this morning that I have spent well over half my life as a pastor in this District. We moved here in 1978 to pastor a small church in Battle Creek and have been in four other churches along the way: Jackson Central, Berkley Hills and Lansing Faith.

It’s been a great run. We’ve raised three children and had the support of the District when there were tough times. We’ve made great friends along the way and learned more than seminary could have ever taught us about leading churches and loving God’s people.

We have been through three district superintendents in our stay here. Each one brought unique things to the table. Vaughn Drummonds (he of white pants and white shoes) set the standard by drawing excellent pastors into the district. He did this in large part by making sure the churches were taking good care of the pastors and providing well for them. In the long view, it is what set WMD up for the kind of success it has experienced. Thanks, Vaughn.

Ron Kelly was a friend before he became our DS. He remained a friend and support as Marcia and I went through some of the darkest days of our personal lives. He also led the district through some transition years. I watched him grow as an administrator and learned from him as he led through dealing with some difficult people and situations. His administrative skills grew to such a degree that the denomination snatched him away to serve as general secretary. (Miss you Ron and Tana!)

Then came Mark Gorveatte and a whole new level of energy was infused into the district. Mark raised the level of excellence even further and made sure that our pastors and churches were healthy. Mark is known for church planting, but what gets overlooked is the effort he has put into trying to increase the health of established churches. Once again, I’ve learned a great deal from Mark and consider him to be both mentor and friend. We will miss he and the WMD team.
In our 31 years here in WMD we have tended to step into churches that were tired and needing renewal. Now we are moving to the NMD to continue that same kind of service. Journey is a great church with an amazing core of leaders. It is our prayer that we will be able to see the church renewed and vibrant once more. Please keep us in your prayers as we begin this next leg (and probably finishing stretch) of our Journey.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Life is Nuts!

Life is nuts! In a couple weeks we will be moving to Traverse City to begin the next phase of our lives as lead (solo) pastor at The Journey. It was just two months ago that I polished up the resume and sent it off to the North Michigan District as an act of obedience. It was unbelievable how fast things progressed from there. On June 14th I preached there and on Monday the 15th they extended the invitiation and we accepted.

Now we are in the process of selling our house here, looking at houses in TC, packing, and trying to finish well here at Faith. We love the people here and are going to miss them terribly. I am also going to miss the comaradarie of a church staff until Journey is strong enough to begin taking some people on.

In addition, we are enjoying having our Kiwi family with us this month. Today we celebrated Raegan's second birthday at the park by the lake (I'm going to miss that, too.) The whole family was together and it was a very enjoyable afternoon. Of course, to make it even more interesting, we received a call that the realtor is coming to show the house tonight. So, I'm done here and heading home to help get the house show room ready.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


The last few days of Poets, Prophets and Preachers are done and I’m sitting on my deck reflecting on my take aways. It was a profitable couple days, since I will soon be returning to preaching on a regular basis after a three year hiatus as a staff pastor. I won’t give too much on content. If you want more specifics, a few others took very good notes and are available @ Apparently, those bloggers disobeyed the “no laptop” rule or are outstanding note takers and have a way of transcribing very quickly. I, on the other hand, am a spineless conformer.

There were several things that struck me as odd about the conference; the aforementioned technology ban, the choice of songs for worship which were highly contemporized ancient hymns, and guided imagery and controlled breathing seminar by Shane Hipps on Tuesday afternoon.

However, I resonated with the heart of the speakers and regained focus on several preaching issues that will prepare me to return. I especially enjoyed Peter Rollins and his hyperkinetic presentation of seemingly random thoughts that challenged my heart nearly as much as the mind. I can see why he makes the institutional church nervous, but it needs to be kept on its toes. As an unexamined life is not worth living, an unquestionable church is not worth being part of either.

One last disturbing observation. Nearly everything Rob Bell taught to this new generation about sermon preparation, I learned from John Maxwell and his cohort a couple decades ago. They havereceived new labels, but are essentially the same lessons: Study hard, dig deep, collect thoughts and ideas, plan well ahead. I guess that should give as much comfort to the old guard of the “pulpit” as it probably unnerves the emerging generation. Some things don’t really change all that much, they are just reborn.

Monday, July 6, 2009


Clickity-Click and Glare

I’m taking in Poets, Prophets and Preachers in Grand Rapids this week hosted by Rob Bell and Mars Hill church. I thought it would be a great tune-up for me as I return to preaching and an excellent chance for my new Mini 9 netbook to shine. But apparently, it shines just a little too brightly.

I love taking notes, but my hand writing in indecipherable once I do, so having a small, light computer with really long battery life sounded great. Toward the end of the first night while the announcements were presented which included a celebration of lanyards (?) we were told that we could not use laptops during the session because of the glare off the screen and the distraction of the clickity-click sound.

I might have thought that Bell and Co. have joined the ranks of the new Luddites, but this is a conference that includes a session on How Technology Shapes The Sermon. It seems like such a disconnect between who they are and serve (a highly tech savvy generation) that the reasoning sounds tinny. It sends me wondering why they really object to my taking notes on a laptop. What I find most disturbing is hearing such a thin and disingenuous feeling reasoning coming from a group whose buzz words include “authentic” and “honesty”. Any thoughts?

BTW: I will revert to my palm today – (small glaring screen and no click)