FBC Basin Installs New Pastor

Aaron Gesch !First Baptist Church of Basin, Wyoming held an installation service for their new Lead Pastor, Aaron Gesch on June 26th.

Aaron Gesch 2Aaron lived 7 years in Peru (ages 5-12) with his parents who served as missionaries with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Before moving to Wisconsin to pursue a MA degree in Christian/Theological Studies from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, with an emphasis in Counseling and Pastoral Care, Aaron and his wife Starla were living in Pinedale, Wyoming. The Gesch’s have 6 children.

Pastor Kent Dempsey is moving to an associates position after over 20 years as the Lead Pastor. He, and his wife Jan, are devoting more of their time caring for their aging parents. Kent will be available for pulpit supply in the area.

Associate Pastor, John Henderson, rounds out the pastoral leadership of First Baptist Church.

 

New Book on Becoming a Turnaround Leader

uniqueCovFINAL-203x300RMCN Board Member, Gordon Penfold, and co-authors, Bud Brown and Gary Westra have written a new book, Pastor Unique: Becoming a Turnaround Leader.  The publisher hasn’t given a firm release date yet, but they are hoping that it will be available around August 15.

You can read the Introduction by clicking on this link.

The authors are also working on additional resources for pastors, church leaders, and denominational leaders to help them get the most from this groundbreaking new work.

 

The authors of Pastor Unique understand the critical need for the development of turn-around pastor leadership, given that over 80% of churches in America are plateaued or declining in attendance. They bring their ministry experience and passion for healthy churches and effective leadership to bear on this epidemic. Their research of successful turn-around pastors has led them to identify the key behaviors and practices that non turn-around pastors can develop through assessment, training and mentoring. If you are a pastor facing the daunting task of leading a church that is plateaued and declining, Pastor Unique is a must read.

Stan Rieb
Executive Director
Rocky Mountain Church Network

An Introduction To Interim Ministry Training Event

1407859801

 

Interim Pastor Ministries will be holding a training event in Longmont Colorado on August 22 & 23, 2016.

This training is for Pastors interested in serving as an Interim, or exploring future ministry possibilities and denominational leaders wanting to learn about IPM’s unique, intention 5-stage process.

Attendance is a prerequisite for all interested in membership and serving with IPM. This training event is open to all. There is no constraint to join IPM.

The training will take place at:

Calvary Church
2101 Gay St
Longmont CO 80501

The cost for the training is $225 (Wives attend free)
All materials are included
No meals or lodging are included

Training Event Registration Form

The Missional Church

cropped-Indigenous-Ministries-Logo-shortBrother Stan Rieb and I had the privilege of sharing lunch together recently, and in the course of conversation, the comment was made that a certain municipality in Colorado now denies all church applications for building and expansion. I was struck with the fact that as I work overseas in Egypt, Iraq and Turkey, the very places where the Church originated, we find a very similar resistance in these areas today. In understanding church history, this resistance is not new. In fact as I look over the past 2000 years of extended Church history, the plight of Christians through the centuries, and our modern day partnering to plant and build churches in the Middle East, this is the norm.

For those who have a sense that we are owed some kind of privileged position due to being American Christians, it may be that we need to rethink our position. Rather than being surprised, shocked, or frustrated over such attitudes, let us be encouraged to look at our churches in a different light.

We are as U.S. Christians, really owed nothing, rather, the world asks us to give a reason for our validity. We can no longer grow the Church from the inside out, but we must assist people as they grasp the realities of a personal relationship with the Lord. He told us to be “salt and light,” and we are to continue to be a mainstream influence in our society, all in a culture that is growing more and more hostile to the truths taught in the Word of God.

We are seeing a culture shifting away from long held common beliefs, and have turned from a post-Christian nation to a pre-Christian nation. In fact, churches must adopt a missional outlook and perspective if we are to influence our communities. Before one becomes discouraged and feels confronted yet again with another “program” to be implemented, or how some other church reached “mega” status, let’s look at a few things that might help in assessing current direction, vision and actions.

I love Church history; not the one we were taught in Bible college and seminary that was primarily Western in its focus, but the dynamic growth and later decline of the Church in the Middle East from the first to the seventeenth century. The Church in the Middle East holds lessons for the U.S. Church today. How do we continue to influence in the midst of growing opposition as a Church engaged within the purposes that Scripture mandates?

Imagine for a moment that your church was in a foreign country, somewhat tolerant of Christianity, but not enamored with it either. How would you maximize your buildings, your congregation, your volunteers and your financial resources to effectively impact your “foreign community?”

Take a moment and think through this. When a missionary goes overseas and when all the excitement of support raising has been accomplished, and all the adventure of travel and settling into a new country has begun to sink in, he or she eventually comes to the question which I remember asking of myself in India, “now what?” It is from that question that one derives all future passion, vision and activity. It is one of personal and ministry assessment, and it is also what the Lord asked Moses in Midian when he stood before the burning bush, “What is in your hand?”

Pastor, what is in your hand? How can this be invested in taking your church into your community and being an influence for good? I’ve seen two churches standing side by side, one holding activities such as hiking clubs, MOP’s, day care, senior citizen lunches, community and political meetings, men’s BBQ’s, softball and basketball league participation, little league, and community road and parks clean up. This church I’m describing is seen as an asset to the community, contrasted with the neighboring church that never sees a car enter the drive until Sunday AM. As we look at a less than welcoming community, 1 Peter 2:12 reminds us to, “live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”

A Church looking exclusively at herself and her own ministries is in the beginning of a decline that, given enough time, leads to nonexistence. We’ve all been brought to tears when one of our own precious children trusts Christ as Savior; as wonderful as this is, let’s not be satisfied with this alone, but just as a missionary worth his or her tenure overseas diligently ministers in outreach, we too must actively seek ways to influence our community for Christ.

This influence requires vision and action. What is your vision for your community? Is it so big that God has to show up? Faith begets faith. The greatest affect for change is when people see genuine faith in action because of strong vision. Every man I know wishes for a moment when he can be a hero and make a strategic shift and positive change in someone’s life for good. Christ designed his bride to be his hands and his feet, in other words, you and I, the Church itself, are real life heroes reaching our neighbors with His love and forgiveness.

What is the Church to produce? Chevy makes cars, Cross makes pens, Harley-Davidson makes motorcycles (thank you, Lord). So the question then is, “what is the church to produce?” The Church produces new Christ-followers who become disciples. If we’re not accomplishing this, we’re not doing our job.

The beginning of the decline of the church in the Middle East was around the 13th century. Of course it was partly the result of a growing persecution of Christians by Islamic communities, and their rulers. Up to this time the Islamic communities had blended, accepted and in fact, interlaced Christians into their socio-political and economic societies. During the 13th century we begin to note a decline in influence and connection the Church held within the blended communities, a declination caused not as a result of outside pressure, but, rather, from inside the Church herself.

Pastors and bishops gradually exhibited a lack of academic engagement in Scriptures, passing this on to the Church. In other words, the Church began to “do ministry” because of traditions rather than reflect a vibrant interest in the Word of God, its vital truths and its impact on society and the human heart. Ultimately this attitude produced a lack of interest in reaching out to the unsaved. Believers became satisfied with passing on their faith primarily to their own children and family “dynasties.”

The decline of the Church from the 14th through the 17th century in the Middle East was first, persecution, of course, but a third underlying cause was also lack of vision for reaching out. Because of religious and political pressures, they choose compromise as an alternative and accepted marginalization within their communities rather than retain the role of vibrant changeagent. Families passed their faith on to their own family rather than reaching out.

In contrast, within the first century, despite growing persecution, the message of Jesus Christ exploded along the trade routes of both the Roman and Persian world, especially along the Silk Road to India and China. As an example, the Gospel, brought by merchants from Jerusalem, reached Mosul in Northern Iraq in 38 A.D. mixing the concepts of business and mission. In fact, one of the early hymns the Church in the East was “let us take the attire of merchants and bring the good news to the world.”

The decline of the modern Church is directly linked to the abdication of engagement in her communities through the daily influence in the lives of neighbors and co-workers, to accomplish what Christ commanded her to do, make disciples. When the Church is singularly focused on itself and fellowship, she loses her influence in society and the outcome is marginalization.

My dear friend, an Iraqi pastor, Douglas Bazi, has been shepherding a church of refugees from Mosul. Two years ago as Mosul fell, he was captured by ISIS, tortured and beaten many times. He was taken to be beheaded a number of times, but as he said, “the Lord has always been with me and watched over me.” After four months, miraculously, he was released and immediately resumed his role as pastor shepherding his flock who were now refugees in nearby Irbil, northern Iraq. Refusing to leave his flock, he has worked tirelessly to emigrate his congregation of over 200 families in the Czech Republic. His key leadership and life example have impacted thousands. Without pastoral leadership and a localized focus upon the people of our communities, the church will flounder.

So what are some action points to consider?

1. The Church needs a missional heart. Let’s not focus on what we want our community to do for us, but what we can and will do for our community.

2. The Church needs to be practical as Moses was when God asked him, “What is in your hand?” God knows our flaws and weaknesses and still chooses to work through us for His glory, and He will take the mundane and make it miraculous and pertinent.

3. The Church needs to be actively stepping into the mainstream of her community.

4. The Church needs to take courage and stand firm in her faith and confidence in the teaching of the Word. We’ve seen all that Satan can throw at us; this is nothing new. Yet the Church still stands because she is founded upon the immovable foundation of Christ and the eternal Word.

The Lord said, “I will be with you, to the very end of the age.” We may not all teach and preach well, but we can each make disciples, and as authentic, passionate Christ-followers we are linked to the ongoing pulse and unfolding history of the Church that is being made today.

John CookBy John W. Cook, CEO, Indigenous Ministries

www.IndigenousMinistries.org

 

Photo of John and his wife, Dee

A Heart For Commerce City

Prayer Station #2Good News Community Church has a heart to reach people apart from God in North Denver.  With a mission to “be and make disciples of Jesus Christ who love God, love others, and serve the world.”

Their multi-campus ministry focuses primarily on impacting Broomfield and Commerce City.  Lead Pastor Matthew Fite and Commerce City Campus Pastor Ryan Whitson lead a community of owners of a God shaped and sized vision to reach their communities.

The church owns property at 104th and Blackhawk which is a prime spot for reaching northern Commerce City.  Recently they placed a cross, seats, and a set of solar lights on the Commerce City land.

On Sunday, June 5th the Commerce campus had service out on the land – it was a special day!

They spent the morning praying for the city of Commerce, for the future of the church, and for God to use them as a vehicle for thousands of men, women, boys, and girls to come to know Jesus as Lord and savior… in Commerce and across north Denver.

It was a good day!

Why have we grown?

cothlogo11Recently, we have enjoyed a period of growth.  Twelve people have joined our church since the first of the year, ranging in ages from 10 – 65 years old, and four more are considering joining.

For our small church this has resulted in a 10% growth in membership and a 9% growth in attendance.  Plus, this Sunday we will be baptizing a young woman in our worship service.

A couple of months ago, two young men accepted the Lord Jesus downstairs in our Sunday School while their grandmother upstairs in worship rededicated her life!  Obviously the Holy Spirit was working on both floors that day.   Last Summer we baptized a family of four who are mostly new to the faith.

Why have we been experiencing this growth?  I can’t really say except we are being faithful to our vision of being living messengers for Jesus who share God’s love with others in all of our ministries.

A little over a year ago when we changed the name of the church, we had two prayers and goals in mind:  1. We desired to attract non-believers to our church. 2. We desired to attract believers who had recently moved into our community.

God has certainly honored both those requests in these new members.  I am pleased God has blessed our focus on vision and outreach.

Pastor Mike Lundberg,
Church on the Hill,
Montrose Colorado.

One Day Conference 2016

CatalystOn Tuesday, August 16, One Day Conference: The View From Here will be in Denver, Colorado from 8:30-4:30.

Two key questions remain at the forefront of every leader’s mind: Where have we come from? Where are we going?

After recently celebrating their 20-year anniversaries in ministry, Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel are sharing The View from Here by reflecting on the leadership lessons that have brought them to where they are today and looking ahead to the future of the Church with excitement and anticipation.

One Day is a can’t-miss opportunity to unpack the nuts and bolts of leadership with the two principal voices in leadership today. Catalyst One Day is a different type of Catalyst event that is designed to focus on answering the practical how-to and what-about questions we just aren’t able to cover at a larger event.

Learn from two of the most effective voices in organizational leadership today, Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel, as they share the lessons they have learned in growing their ministries and developing as leaders over the past 20 years.

The conference will be at:

Cherry Hills Community Church
3900 Grace Blvd
Highlands Ranch, CO 80126

Conference Schedule

August 16, 2016
7:30 am  – Registration
8:30 am – Session 1
10:00 am – Break
10:30 am – Session 2
12:00 pm – Lunch
1:30 pm – Session 3
3:00 pm – Break
3:30 pm – Session 4
4:30 pm – End of Day

Register with RMCN to get the group rate of $89 per person by filling out THIS FORM and mailing it along with your check to:
RMCN
3686 Stagecoach Rd Unit E
Longmont CO 80504
Or if you want to pay by credit card use the following link:





If you have any questions, please call 303-772-1205 or email Assistant@rmcn.org.

A Letter to the RMCN Family

Dear Rocky Mountain Church Network Family:   As chairman of the RMCN board I’m writing this letter on behalf of our Regional Executive Director, Stan Rieb, and the RMCN.   The RMCN supports regional churches in many ways.  The RMCN vision is: We envision a network of vibrant churches empowered by God and mobilized by passionate spiritual leaders, living out the gospel by serving their communities and making disciples of Jesus Christ to the glory of God.

Thus RMCN provides guidance and resources for pastoral searches, assessments for churches, ministry mapping, coaching for pastors, leadership learning communities, counseling and resources for struggling churches and pastors, and organizes the occasional regional leadership retreat for pastors, staff and their wives.

All of this boils down to one goal: to produce healthy and vibrant pastors and churches.  Stan is at the center facilitating the mission and has made great progress this past year in contacting and encouraging member churches.

My church has been the recipient of Stan’s expertise and is now experiencing growth in several areas for the first time in four years.   In our meeting last week, however, Stan informed me that we had to dip into our investments.  As a board we knew this day was coming but feel fortunate to have reserves to draw on.

So as a member church, I am asking you to consider a one-time financial gift, increase your current financial commitment or placing RMCN on your missions and outreach budget.  As you invest in RMCN, you are investing in God’s kingdom work in our region.     Please keep Stan and RMCN in your prayers.  May God richly bless you as you seek to make disciples through sharing and living out the gospel.

Sincerely in Christ,
Pastor Mike Lundberg
Chairman of the RMCN Board
Senior Pastor of Church on the Hill, Montrose, Colorado

 

 

Changing Your Church’s Name

Over the last few weeks, I have been asked a couple of times about churches changing their names, specifically removing “Baptist” from their name. Many churches are doing this and I believe that the trend will continue for some of the reasons that I will share. From the personal experience of having led a name change, I can tell you that a wise pastor treads these waters carefully and intentionally. Let me give you several areas to consider when it comes to processing this discussion.

Cultural Denominational Disconnect

Early American immigration history is at the heart of the vast denominational diversity in America. A denominational identity helped people connect with their cultural religious identity. Even 30 years ago many rural communities’ dominant denominational representation was reflective of the immigrant migrations of the late 1800’s and 1900’s. Northeastern Kansas, where my family settled as immigrants, was predominantly Lutheran because it was a center of the German immigrant communities. After WWII and perhaps even before that, America was losing that European nationalism with the homogenization of our culture.

Add to this the secularization of the American culture over the last 30 to 50 years. Our post-Christian culture has produced an ever increasing number of people who have no religious, let alone denominational, identity. For many past generations there was at least distant relationship with the church, if nothing else as the place where weddings and funerals took place. Even that is now waning in our culture.

In The Rise of the Nones, James Emery White notes that those who identify themselves as having no religious affiliation are increasing at a surprising rate. The Pew Research Center notes, “In the last five years alone, the unaffiliated have increased from just over 15% to just under 20% of all U.S. adults.”

Because of this ongoing disconnect from the church, a non-religious individual’s understanding of the church and denominational branding has been formed by the media rather than by experiential knowledge. We know that the media, in general, does not paint a positive picture of the church. Baptist, along with many other denominational identifiers like Assembly of God and to a lesser degree Evangelical Free Church, are defined or judged by the unchurched by this media bias. Baptists are perceived by many in the public spectrum in a very negative framework, thus at times invoking a barrier to connecting with them.

Guilt by Association

For me the impetus to CONTEMPLATE DROPPING “Baptist” from the name of the church I was pastoring was the protesting by the Westboro Baptist church at the Matthew Shepard murder trials and their protesting at the funerals of military personal who were killed in the line of duty. People in our community made it clear that they understood that since they were Baptist and we were Baptist we must have been supportive of what they were doing.

One would need to assess the community’s perception of your church’s identity, part of which is your denominational connection, if that is part of your branding. This is not an easy task as many of the people in our church are insulated from the unchurched in the community.

Again, as we continue to generationally distance ourselves from the perceived American Christian culture from years past (each generation being increasingly identified as nones), our unchurched culture has an increasing deficit of understanding of the denominational distinctions. Even more important is their lumping all “Christian” faith groups together. For the unchurched there is little or no difference between any denomination, let alone those we in the church would identify as a cult. Their only perception is that some denominations are more negative or judgmental toward those who are not part of their group. 

Missional Focus

Most new church plants do not communicate a denominational identity. Tom Rainer notes that Newer churches are consistently using descriptors in their names other than denominational affiliation. Some are focusing on their location. Others are at least implying a distinctive doctrinal leaning. And still others are using more trendy and less common terms.”

New churches understand that evangelism and growth are essential to the life (ongoing existence) of the church. As one church planter noted, “It is really only churched people who are looking for a specific denomination’s name and researching what a church believes when deciding whether or not to visit. Our church isn’t targeting churched people at all. I can’t tell you how many of our friends came to our church because of a relationship they had with us or someone else and found out only at our membership class that we are affiliated with a denomination.”

One of the reasons that church plants avoid denominational, or even traditional terminology, is that they want to create open doors of gospel opportunity. They understand that the branding of their ministries which includes their name, social network or media presence, facilities and other things are doors of relational opportunity to fulfill their Great Commission mission.

Paul noted this missional strategy in 1 Corinthians 9:19-22, “… To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” He understood there were individuals that were in the sphere of his missional influence and he did whatever he could to remove any barriers to his being able to communicate the gospel to them. He declared his missionary identity in the missional strategy.

In the ministry where we changed the church’s name we did so because even though we were reaching people across denominational heritages, there were still those in the community for whom the name Baptist was an insurmountable hurdle. Our people were not willing to allow a word in our name to be a stumbling stone to the people in the community knowing Jesus. It was not easy to part with their First Baptist Church name. The name was full of fond memories and had a deep rich meaning to many, but there was a greater good to be had in giving that up, removing any barrier to people coming to faith in Christ.

How do you prepare a church that is deeply vested in a name for this type of change?

First of all mission and vison should drive the conversation. Mission relates to purpose and the purpose of the church is a relationally redemptive purpose. Vision goes to painting a picture of what it will look like when we are living out our purpose in our community. A well-crafted and communicated vision of what can be will always make what is unacceptable, a motivation for change. Leverage the influence of the board as vision communicators. If they cannot be excited about the vision, how can you expect the congregation to be supportive?

Secondly, when possible, celebrate the past as the reflection of the outward focused mission and vision. In most cases you can point to times in a church’s past where they stepped out in faith to be obedient to a Great Commission, Great Commandment purpose. Point the congregation to changes that they have made in the past that have brought about good results.

Give people time. I love the quote from Resilient Ministry regarding leadership. Harvard professors Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky have summarized that “exercising leadership might be understood as disappointing people at a rate they can absorb.” Wise leaders will bring people along, they will have thought through an intentional strategy. Introduce it as an idea that leadership is considering. Have multiple meetings where the leadership puts it on the table to have people express their thoughts and feelings. With that validate people’s apprehensions and feelings; often times people need the opportunity to express themselves before they can consider the value of the proposed change.