Author Archives:

Stephen R. Tourville D. Min.

Dare to DREAM Big Together

Sixteen years ago the Lord put a dream in my heart for the waters of His Spirit to rise across our Network so that all ships would rise together as He worked among us.

We often think of this as our dream, but in truth this is God’s desire – His dream. A part of that dream is the sense of unity we experience when we see ourselves as a part of the team God has raised up to impact Pennsylvania and Delaware with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Indeed, none of us can change the world through our own efforts, but it is truly incredible what can occur when we join hearts and efforts to reach those God has placed around us. We experience what it means to be “Better Together.”

Marjie and I have been honored to serve you as your Superintendent these past years. Your love and support for us has created an atmosphere where God’s presence has been felt and His favor experienced. As we look to the future, it is our prayer that our future leadership will experience the same prayer, support, encouragement and love that you have afforded us. We thank you for your care for us and trust you will commit to follow those who will lead into the future.

Our gratitude goes out to our excellent staff, both departmental leaders and support personnel at the Ministry Center and the Conference Center. Their excellence, passion and loyalty have established a context where unity is evident. Our presbyters have led with great integrity and passion for your sections and churches. Their commitment to God, you and our fellowship has been a source of great encouragement to me. Our ministers, churches and followers of Jesus across our Network made serving in this capacity a joy that provides significance for all we do. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your prayers, love and passion to be people of the Spirit and of the Word as we have labored together for His Kingdom. May God continue to grace us with His presence until He comes again.

PIVOT

 

The concept of TURNAROUND CHURCHES produces any number of emotional responses. On the one hand the thought of turning a church around can illicit fear, anxiety and apprehension along with defensiveness or a sense of being insulted by some who are pushing an agenda. On the other hand, the same phrase can yield excitement and enthusiasm about a new adventure and challenge in the congregation. My personal experience relates to the fact that every church I was privileged to pastor was at a place in their history that TURNAROUND was necessary if the church was to survive. What I learned from those experiences was that every context was different so that every solution was unique.

In my younger years, basketball was my game of choice. The fundamentals of the game don’t vary from player to player, but the individual’s specialty was determined by their personal interests and abilities. Most people are aware of the concepts of dribbling, shooting or blocking a shot. The concept of the pivot is not as celebrated. Being able to change direction in an instant is a skill that greatly increases a player’s effectiveness.

The same is true for us as leaders in the church. The ability of a leader to help the church pivot; i.e. TURNAROUND, is of great importance but is also very challenging. For a basketball player, the pivot can be a vulnerable moment that results in a twisted ankle or broken foot, so caution must be taken, technique and stamina developed and sometimes risks must be taken. But done well, a TURNAROUND/PIVOT can enhance effectiveness and open up an opportunity that would not otherwise exist.

We trust that you will be encouraged in your congregation to trust God for a greater harvest of souls by attempting great things for Him!

Getting Self-Leadership Right

Many volumes have been written over the last couple of decades regarding leadership in the church. Great resources have been produced to train leaders in the how-to side of leadership, the relationship aspect of leading others and the systems approach to developing effective church structures. These tools can equip ministers to fulfill their call to serve in the church of Jesus Christ with greater effectiveness in ways that would otherwise require much time to learn in the school of life experience.

Preaching is at the core of what we are called to do, but we come to understand that being a shepherd of God’s flock extends further than the pulpit. Our call to ministry certainly involves the proclamation of the good news and the equipping of God’s people through the exposition of the Word, but our call does not end there.

Dr. Bradford’s book, Lead So Others Can Follow, gets to the heart of what we call today “self-leadership.” Discussion related to leadership principles from a “how-to” perspective are inadequate in kingdom work. While a political or business leader may experience a certain level of success through the exercise of the power of position and personal expertise, in the kingdom of God, the additional qualities of spirituality and personal influence are critical to what is to be accomplished in building the church. Getting self-leadership right makes it possible to lead so others can follow.

Ministers’ Enrichment speaker, Dr. James Bradford, will help us develop those key skills for ministry that are foundational for effective service in the kingdom of God. Join us for this time of
learning, growth and enrichment that will bless you personally and will bless your ministry in the future.

Better Together

For several years our District/Network tagline “Better Together” has provided focus and identification for us as we move forward in unity to fulfill our purpose as a fellowship in reproduction, relationship and resources. No individual or congregation can accomplish as much as when all of us move together to serve God in reaching our mission field and ministering to the people in our sphere of influence. The graphic expression on the front cover of this edition effectively depicts our movement corporately toward a direction guided by the Spirit as others continue to join this endeavor. You will find in the pages of this publication many of the efforts we are planning to achieve throughout the various ministries of our network.

Five years ago your churches joined forces to impact one region of India, the state of Rajasthan. It was a great privilege for Marjie and me to return this past year to view the results of your financial contributions and sacrifices. The development of the school has progressed to the point now that about 300 children are getting an education, a healthy meal every day and a school uniform. Most of these children would not have this opportunity had we not partnered to see this accomplished. In addition, the church continues to grow and flourish with the development of the church facilities and the Bible College that trains ministers to pastor and plant churches. A significant part of our project was focused on the Freedom House which houses and provides training in micro business endeavors to rescue those trapped in the trafficking of young girls in that community.

Amazing results in missions happen because we are “Better Together” The seeds you sowed five years ago have grown to produce an amazing harvest for Christ. Sometimes we may wonder where our dollars go and the result of our giving. Your heart would be warmed by the children singing songs about Jesus and the individuals who have been saved by Christ and now are going out to plant more churches that bring life and hope to the lost. The light of Jesus is being proclaimed and your giving made this possible.

Last year our efforts were directed toward a community in Romania assisting Ana and Mike Dascalescu in constructing Baneasa Community Center. Once again, your response to the opportunity of investing in this nation to bring the good news of Jesus’ love has established a foothold that is producing a harvest of souls for the kingdom of God. We demonstrate God’s care for those without the hope of Christ by sending, giving and going to the unreached people of our world.

Joy to the World

The festivities of the holiday season are always filled with fun, joy and excitement as we gather with friends and family to celebrate God’s gift of salvation to us through the incarnation of the Son of God and our Savior, Jesus Christ. In the growing secularism of our culture, the importance of sharing the story of Jesus’ birth cannot be overstated.

When preparing for the TV show, “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” Charles Schulz stated, “If it’s to be a Christmas special, I want to certainly deal with the true meaning of Christmas.”* He was so right! He was determined to have the story told through the reciting of the Scripture passage because people needed to be reminded what Christmas is all about. The producer, Bill Melendez, stated that Schulz said, “Bill, if we don’t do it, who else can? We are the only ones who can do it.”* We in the church can heed the advice of Mr. Schulz. If we do not share the true meaning of Christmas, who will?

The gifts we receive and give, the decorating of the tree, the music and the abundance of food we enjoy point us to the greatest gift ever given. But without the story of Jesus’ birth, all the rest becomes an excuse to relish in extravagance. We embrace this wonderful celebration because it points us to the amazing grace of God which is simply Christ!

This time of year provides us with the opportunity to reflect on God’s gift of Salvation which gives us a new start. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Whether we think of our new life in Christ, a new year that is ahead, or some new endeavor, Christ gives us the chance to begin again, to have a new start. Perhaps there is something you have looked forward to seeing accomplished but have not gotten around to it. I do not personally make New Year’s resolutions, but I do like to take this time to reflect and refocus on the issues that are dear to my heart. What do you want the Lord to help you accomplish this next year? May I encourage you to complete the sentence, “With God’s help, this is my year to…” Make this a matter of prayer and begin to establish the action steps needed to see this fulfilled. 2017 can be the greatest year of your life, if you establish Christ as the center and order your world around His priorities.

*Quotes from: A Charlie Brown Christmas-The making of a Tradition, by Lee Mendelson with reminiscences by Bill Melendez.

Selfie

noun (pl. selfies | selfēz) A “selfie” is defined in Wikipedia as “a self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a hand-held digital camera or camera phone” and are “usually flattering and made to appear casual…usually at arm’s length.” At times I find selfies to be awkward, self-absorbing and perhaps too revealing of personal flaws.

But the “selfie” has become a popular trend and probably illustrates the human tendency to maintain our individuality (although, of course, many selfies are done in a group setting). As Christians, we recognize the importance of the individual receiving Christ, believing and confessing Him as Lord and Savior. The person’s decision to follow Jesus is not only transformative to the individual but also radically changes the context of that person’s existence. No longer is he/she living for themselves, but they are now living for God. No longer are they “of the world” but have been made a part of the kingdom of God, a part of the body of Christ. As followers of Jesus, we do not lose our individuality, but we gain an added dimension of our existence by becoming part of something so much bigger than ourselves.

Most of us recognize the importance of personal responsibility and our self-preservation, but the selfie should never be viewed as the ultimate goal or of primary importance. The mutual goals, dreams and aspirations we share are seldom accomplished as individuals. We need others around us to support and encourage us even as we support and encourage others.

Being “better together” means this “self” is a part of what God is doing in our world today. Connecting relationally with others of like-mindedness motivates us to significant interactions on a personal level to one or more groups pertaining to C3. The goal of C3 (Catalyst, Connect & Coaching groups) has been to provide a means that allows and encourages us to understand and practice our ministry endeavors to be so much more than a selfie for Facebook but a group portrait in the halls of heaven to be all He has called us to be.

As printed in the 2015 Network ConneXions

Challenge

As a freshman in high school, the orchestra conductor placed me in the third chair trombone section.  Naïve as I was about orchestras, it just seemed like a random seating arrangement until the fourth chair trombone player challenged me, and we had to compete for my third chair position.  I kept my third chair but lost my sense of security and innocence about being challenged.

At times others will challenge us, the culture might challenge us, and sometimes God will challenge us.  Our  response often determines the direction of our future.  If we face challenges in fear and intimidation, we may respond through fight or flight.  If we face challenges with faith and intentionality, we can soar in the victory that Jesus provides, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

We need not fear the future because “if God be for me, who can be against me.”  Our greatest challenge is not in the culture, economic conditions, or persecutions, but to “trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.”

Pastor Steve

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