Author Archives:

PennDel

No Reset Button

Students know how to reset all kinds of devices, but resetting a student ministry is not so simple. Everyone knows that most adults “don’t like change,” but some students in high school and even junior high can also get entrenched in patterns and expectations. Even volunteer leaders feel hesitant as changes take shape, which is significant in student ministries where our team carries much of the weight of weekly ministry. To reset our weekly rhythms of ministry and community there was no button to push; it required wisdom and communication and patience.

One major factor that led us to reset the service format was our awareness that students spend most of the year learning in lecture style classes. This makes it tough for them to engage for an extended time of preaching in the middle of the week. We also wanted to help students grow deeper connections to other students, adult leaders and, most importantly, the scripture.

We started our transition by casting vision about our desire to maximize the value of our time with students when we gathered. The thought of changing our service structure alarmed some of our volunteer leaders. For several months, when we gathered with our leadership team, we spent time talking about the values that were leading us towards this shift.

Eventually, we launched a new Wednesday structure that starts with worship, followed by 15-25 minutes of teaching, roughly 30 minutes of discussion and prayer in gender-specific small groups that we call Circles. This helps us nurture relationships within our group and personalize the application of the scriptures we’re exploring. We still do one service a month in a large group format built around a theme that we call an Invite Night.

It sounds simple enough, but there have been bumps in the road. As we continued to articulate the values behind our change in format, we found increased appreciation and participation.  Thankfully, our new structure is producing fruit. The health of our ministry continues to increase; we are excited about what The Lord has in store for us.

 

Chris and Nia Gillott serve at CLC in Bensalem where they do ministry as a team. They love helping students discover what it means to be a disciple and equipping them to make disciples! They’ve been married since 2005, and have two children – David and Evangelia. Chris’s interests include running, making music and cheering for the E-A-G-L-E-S! Nia enjoys cooking (it’s her love language), photography, graphic design and she’s learning to sew. As a family, they love to be outside, to be together and to make new friends.

Reset Your Life: Emotionally

As spiritual leaders, we regularly speak to others about issues in their lives. However, we often fail to examine some of these same issues as they relate to ourselves. Perhaps the most significant disconnect is in the area of emotional health.

Being emotionally healthy means living a life of wholeness, balance and contentment – even when we’ve experienced difficult and painful circumstances that can leave us feeling, burned out wounded and betrayed. Each of us goes through difficult seasons personally and in ministry. In fact, God’s word clearly tells us that we will face trials, tribulations, times of temptation and set-backs – along with the possibility of growing weary and wanting to give up. 

Have you been there? I know I have at times in my life and journey with the Lord. But the good news is, God doesn’t want us to remain stuck or to give up. He promises to bring us through – if we will allow the Holy Spirit to work in us.

God never intended for us to simply survive the circumstances we encounter. He wants to take us beyond survival to revival, allowing us to live again. Even more, He wants us to thrive.

How can we press the reset button on our emotions for 2019?

First, be honest with yourself and with God. What has crept into your heart this past year (or at any time in the past) that has set you up to be an emotionally unhealthy leader?

Be willing to deal with the issues that you’re struggling with so the Lord can bring you to a place of healing and restoration. Choose to let go of any hurts, disappointments and offenses, and forgive those who have wronged you.

Cast all your anxiety, weariness and cares on the Lord, and allow Him to care for you. (Matthew 11:28, 1 Peter 5:7)

Determine that you will enter 2019 with a revived heart, refreshed and ready to thrive … not by might, not by power, but by the Holy Spirit.

Reset Your Life: Physically

The New Year has traditionally been a time to hit the “reset” button on different areas in life. I’ve found myself in this cycle every January with my health. I didn’t need to be told what it looks like to be healthy or that it is important to be healthy, yet I found myself meeting the statistics of being an unhealthy pastor. Pastoral Care Inc. states that “over 50% of pastors are unhealthy, overweight, and do not exercise” and that included me. 2018 was the year I hit my reset button for health, losing nearly 100 pounds, my blood pressure dropped, and I saw my health and ministry improve.

 

If you want 2019 to be the year you hit your health reset button, here’s three questions I have learned to ask myself which may help you:

What is my reason for getting healthy?

What will I do to achieve my goal?

Who will hold me accountable?

Most people don’t need to be convinced that health should be a priority in their life, so why the struggle? Your reason must be personal and may be different than what you know it should be. I knew I should be healthy for various reasons; however, those reasons didn’t motivate me to lose weight. My reason was my wife, future family and ministry. I struggled as a pastor constantly asking, “How can I pastor others towards spiritual health when I was so far from physical health?” Your reason may not be my reason, and that’s okay.

Once your reason is determined set yourself up with your steps toward your goal. Find the diet and exercise plan that will get you there and follow through. For me that was counting my calories and macro-nutrients, lifting weights and cycling. If something does not seem to work try something different. My wife and I tried everything from Vegan to Keto Diets until we found what worked. Talk to your doctor and determine the best plan for you. Then tell this plan to somebody you trust and give permission to who will hold you accountable.

What would it look like for you to hit the reset button on health? There’s no better time than now to begin this journey.

David and his wife, Michele.

PennDel Charities

As of December 31, 2018 PennDel Charities has closed. Please visit Christ in Action or Convoy of Hope if you would like to make a charitable donation.

Reset Your Life: Spiritually

I’ve only been pastoring for six years. Just when I get comfortable, ministry, people and my Lord remind me that I haven’t quite arrived. Being a church planter has been the most difficult yet rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I spent 26 years as a US Army officer (which included several deployments after 9/11), yet planting a church has been the most challenging.

About 6 months ago, I stood outside of our church (located on a commercial street in Philadelphia) and observed so much brokenness. I asked myself if we were making a difference in our community. At that moment, I felt the Holy Spirit remind me that His presence can bring the transformation I longed for in a way that our strategies/planning could never achieve. Those are essential in order to execute the mission, but without His presence they are incomplete. Immediately, I felt compelled to research past revivals.  I was led to the Hebrides Revival (Scotland) in 1949. This revival included a powerful presence of God’s in response to the prayer of two elderly ladies (ages 84 & 82) and seven men who earnestly prayed for a move of God. The initial question to their pastor which led to intense prayer was “Can we try God?”

Before the revival, not a single young person attended their services. Afterwards, the church was bursting with young people. Bars and dance halls closed! God’s presence moved throughout the community and brought immediate transformation. This church, like many of ours, had conducted conferences and had grand church growth ideas, but hadn’t prayed fervently as the Word urges us to. His presence made all of the difference. I’m all about church growth strategies/conferences, but we won’t experience the entirety of what God wants if we don’t face the question, “Can we try God?”

Coaching Training Event

On November 5-7 at the Bongiorno Conference Center we will be offering the two foundational courses needed to become an effective certified coach, or to simply learn coaching skills for your ministry. These will be offered at a highly discounted rate to PennDel credential holders. Josh Torres will be our instructor and offer an interesting and informative three days of training. The course will be followed by several conference calls to complete the material.

Two Congregations, One Team

HEART LANGUAGE /
IDIOMA DEL CORAZÓN

Many of us have the opportunity to come to church on a weekly basis and worship in our native tongue, English. We are able to worship in our “heart language,” the language that we were spoken to as a child, the language that we pray in, and the language that connects with our soul. But there was a growing Hispanic community around Houston, Pennsylvania, who did not have a place of worship, simply because they were not English-speaking.

Four years ago that changed when Pastor Francisco Teodoro and the leadership of Central Assembly of God teamed up to answer God’s call to minister to the Hispanic community in the Houston area, located outside of Pittsburgh. With a joined mission, Central Assembly of God launched a Parent-Affiliated Church, Iglesia Cristiana Central, that specifically ministered to the Spanish-speaking community.

THE MINISTRY /
EL MINISTERIO

Central AG provides the resources, the building space and support system for Pastor Francisco and Pastor Kurt Jenkins to partner together so the ministry can thrive! Pastor Francisco leads Spanish-speaking worship services on Sunday mornings at “The Rock,” which is the student center. Throughout the week, he also leads a Bible study in a mobile home community, discipleship classes, a weekly prayer service, as well as an alternate Friday service for those who cannot attend on Sunday mornings.

When Pastor Francisco began this ministry, he didn’t wait for the Hispanic community to find the church. He sought them out and formed relationships by visiting the mobile home community and apartment buildings which were largely populated by Hispanics. He posted road signs and banners. He visited local Mexican restaurants and met the owners and workers, offering to pray with them. He went to Walmart and formed relationships with the Hispanic employees. Pastor Francisco simply started making friends for Jesus in the community, and he showed them his “authentic invitation” in his words. He shared, “My purpose, the God-purpose in my life, is that God created me for this time to preach the Gospel. My blessing is changing lives.”

Central AG’s Hispanic ministry extends beyond the walls of their community, and people travel from all over the region to join his congregation. Pastor Francisco leads a weekly online prayer meeting, which is broadcast to Mexico, and usually has about 100 people tuned in for prayer. He also mentors 6 pastors from different parts of the world via skype, pastors from Cuba, Mexico, and his home country, El Salvador.

AN ISLAND FOREVER CHANGED /
UNA ISLA PARA
SIEMPRE CAMBIADA

Long before coming on staff at Central AG, Pastor Francisco ministered from a distance to his home country of El Salvador. He would preach on the radio to a little island called Isla Tasajera with only 1,500 occupants. The island had only dirt and sand roads and three vehicles, but they had a great love for Pastor Francisco and his ministry, so much so that they started inviting him to visit them and preach the Gospel, and even honored him by giving him a piece of property.

When Pastor Francisco came to Central AG, the church adopted the island as a focused project, under the direction of Missions‘ Pastor Vicki Barton, and continued to invest by raising $50,000 to build concrete fish tanks for tilapia harvesting on the property that was originally donated to Pastor Francisco. Through this investment, they are teaching those on the island how to fish and become entrepreneurs! Central AG has also entered a spiritual covenant with the main church on the island, and it was renamed, “Central AG of Isla Tasajera.”

Already this year, Central has made numerous trips to the island to teach spiritual leadership, kingdom lifestyle, business and finances. They also hired an El Salvadorian professional who is training a few church members on a weekly basis about how to care for the fish and tanks.

It is amazing to see how God has used this ministry model to reach the unreached and unite the Spanish- and English-speaking congregations of Central AG! Pastor Kurt emphasized that that they operate as, “two congregations, but one church family,” and this model works because “the leadership of the church really embraced it.”

Missions is not just overseas; sometimes it’s reaching out to the immigrants, the undocumented, the non-English speakers in our communities and creating a space for people to grow in their faith and in their heart language, whether that is Korean, Chinese, Spanish, Arabic or Vietnamese. Although launching a ministry in a second language and dealing with language barriers and cultural differences is not always an easy feat, because of this Hispanic ministry, now a church in western Pennsylvania has had a profound impact on a tiny island in El Salvador! Now that is a picture of God’s mission for the world.

Interview with Jeff Marshall

An interview with Secretary-Treasurer Jeff Marshall

What do you think has prepared you the most for this new step?

I think it’s been a combination of my ministry experience of thirty-four years, which included planting New Day Assembly of God. Previous to that I was a school administrator for twelve years, and served as presbyter of the Southwest Metro section in Pittsburgh.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I’ve always believed in being a servant leader, recognizing what needs done and doing it, whatever the task, nothing is too small or too big. I like to work as a team. I believe in working with people instead of over people.

What are your core values?

My core values? First, my personal relationship with Christ.

Family is so very important to me. I love being a husband, a father and especially a grandfather. I am a husband to Cathy, the father of four children (Katie, Micah, Eden and Shuyler) and a grandfather to Selah and Gideon. “And if I would have known being a grandfather was so much fun, I woulda’ did it first.” That’s actually a quote from Robert Owen, but I use it all the time.

What are you looking forward to the most with your new position?

Supporting Pastor Don in his leadership and being available to pastors and churches to help as much as I can with credentials and transitions. When I was a presbyter that’s one thing that I always enjoyed…working with pastors. That’s what I’m looking forward to the most.

What is a message that you hope to inspire leaders and churches with?

I’m Pentecostal – that’s my DNA and I believe in it. I trust in the Spirit of God to lead me and guide me. I believe that if you look in the New Testament, the reason the church grew was because of the power of the Holy Spirit; that’s what’s going to make the church grow again.

Interview with Don Immel

An interview with District Superintendent Don Immel

What do you think has prepared you the most for this next step?

I see it as a lifetime of saying yes. Denny Sproull asked me to be the CE rep for our section. I was pastoring a very small church at that time, and I said, “Yes.”

A couple of years later I said, “Yes” to being on the sectional committee. This was a role reversal, because at one time the sectional committee was my board. Now I had the opportunity to serve and help home missions’ churches. That was followed by a “Yes” to being secretary of the section.

So, what’s prepared me the most? Serving as a presbyter prepared me to serve as Secretary-Treasurer, and serving as Secretary-Treasurer combined with Presbytery, along with pastoring churches, have all helped to prepare me for what God has called me to today.

Tell us about your family.

We have 3 children – Benjamin, Rebecca and Donnie. Ben and Emily live in Pittsburgh and work for UPMC; Ben in the IT security area and Emily as an OB nurse. Becca, who is due to have a baby in August, and Nathan, a dentist, live in Fort Worth, Texas. Donnie and Kylie, along with Kaedence our first grandchild, live in Monroeville, PA, where Donnie is a youth pastor and Kylie has a photography business.

Our empty nest is not what we thought it would be. We knew that one day our kids would be well-functioning adults. They are, but we miss them terribly and pine for the connectedness of having our family close by.

What are you looking forward to the most with your new position?

First is mentoring young ministers and helping them to achieve their dreams of kingdom effectiveness. That is something that I am anxious to engage in with them.

On the other end, it is caring in a pastoral sense for our credential holders. The ministry can be, and often is, traumatic. I’m absolutely sure that post-traumatic stress (not disorder, but post-traumatic stress) is part of our reality and it has largely gone unaddressed. We want to care for our ministers and their families as well as our churches.

ConneXions Fall 2018

Girls Summer & Fall Training

SUMMER/FALL REGIONAL TRAINING
The PennDel Girls Ministries is offering Regional Trainings to the local church. Each Training Day will include all four levels of training (Basic, Education, Community and Personal Growth). The cost per person is $30 and includes: All training materials, Continental Breakfast and Lunch. To register, send the enclosed the Registration Form and the registration fee to:

Cheryl Golembiowski, Training Assistant
1245 Lombard Road
Red Lion, PA 17356

When: August 11 9 am – 4 pm
Where: Albion Assembly of God
11311 Route 18
Albion, PA

When: September 15 9 am – 4 pm
Where: Calvary Church
1141 E Lebanon Road
Dover, DE

When: October 6 9 am – 4 pm
Where: First Assembly of God
2785 Walston Road
Punxsutawney, PA

Women in Ministry Retreat

A retreat for credentialed women and wives of credential holders. An escape for Rest, Connection, Laughter, and Inspiration for coping with ministry life.

Come for SOUL CARE and SELF CARE

SOUL CARE

Inspirational Gatherings

Powerful & Sensitive Worship

Book Club Discussion:
“Gifted to Lead – The Art of
Leading as a Woman in the Church”

Creative Class:
Succulent Terrarium Making

Saturday Afternoon Coffee Bistro

Private Counseling

SELF CARE

Hair Cuts (more available this year)

Manicures

Massages

Foot Reflexology with Earlene

Spa Foot Soaking with Judy

HonorBound 2018

HONORBOUND MEN’S MINISTRIES

TrinityLife, Baltimore, MD

October 19-20, 2018 

Mark your calendar for an amazing weekend for your men!

The theme for this year’s conference is

COURAGE

with special guests Jason Frenn, Joe McGee and much more!

Senior pastors and group leaders are FREE.

Blessings,

Tom

Junior Bible Quiz

Team registration information for the 2018/2019 season is available below!!

This year, we will again be utilizing an online registration format. All of the instructions for registering can be found in the JBQ Registration Packet below. For questions, please contact Pastor Lorna; online registration is available now!

JBQ Registration Packet – Season 2018-2019
JBQ Rules 2018-2019

2018-2019 JBQ Meet Dates:
Meet #1 – Saturday, October 6, 2018
Meet #2 – Saturday, November 3, 2018
Meet #3 – Saturday, January 12, 2019
Semi Finals – Saturday, January 19, 2019
Finals – February 1 – 2, 2019

For more information or questions about JBQ you may contact our JBQ District Coordinator, Rev. Lorna Albanese at jbq@penndel.org.

Marjie Tourville: Our Pastor’s Wife, Our Friend

God gives gifts to the body of Christ: our salvation, spiritual gifts, ministry gifts, and even people. He blessed our PennDel Ministry Network in 2002, when Marjie (Marjorie) became our Network pastor’s wife as her husband (Pastor Steve) was elected as Superintendent.

The day Pastor Steve was installed as Superintendent started with a unique challenge for Marjie. Her morning began with a dental emergency; one that left her with a front crown missing! Thankfully, Marjie’s sister (Jeanne Wessman) was a dental assistant for a Carlisle dentist. Later, when Marjie walked to the front seat and looked to the platform, she gave Pastor Steve a full, beaming smile!

Marjie completed her B.A. degree in Leadership Management at Eastern University at age 46, and for the past 12 years has been Pastor Steve’s Administrative Assistant. During the years when Pastor Steve was lead pastor, Marjie enjoyed both her work in the corporate world and her role as pastor’s wife. In West Chester she was Missionette’s Coordinator and Sectional Missionette Rep.

Across our Network, PK/MKs (Pastor and Missionary Kids) have an accumulation of hand-knitted hats and scarves. Over the years it has been a passion of Marjie’s to make and distribute them at the annual
PK/MK Retreat. Another event near to Marjie’s heart is the Women in Ministry Retreat; an event designed to bless ministry wives and women in ministry.

When asked what her plans are after retirement she says, “More time with grandchildren!” Steve and Marjie have two children: Jason and his wife Rene’ have four children and live in Shrewsberry, PA. Their daughter Julie and her husband, David, have two children and live in Springfield, MO. While Marjie is retiring from one position, great joy is ahead as she assumes her role as “full-time Me-Maw.”

TESTIMONIES:

After my husband, two young daughters and I moved to a new church and town, I found myself discontented and disillusioned. I had put pressure on myself that I wasn’t meant to carry. I knew I needed help before
I jeopardized my family, ministry, and future.

After Ministers’ Enrichment, the Lord clearly spoke to me that I needed a coach NOW! I emailed Marjie and shared my struggle. I asked if she would recommend a local woman ministry-leader to coach me through this trying time. I stepped out, was vulnerable, and asked for help. Marjie responded a day later offering HERSELF to coach me!  For the next year, she and another woman in ministry and I met together monthly; bearing one another’s burdens and praying for each other.

Marjie went above and beyond the call of duty for me. Marjie gave, prayed, counseled and coached. My life will never be the same because you took the time. Thank you, Marjie!

Christa Fowler

 

I was at a Women in Ministry Retreat in 2002; the year Pastor Steve became Superintendent. I was new to the district, and had no friends. At a jewelry-making class, a lady asked if she could sit with me. We chatted easily and began making our jewelry.

Someone announced, “Ladies, this is our new Superintendent and his wife.” The lady beside me stood up and smiled at everyone. I never expected that someone in her position would be nice to me. She was the superintendent’s wife, but was being a “regular” person like me. That was the beginning of a treasured friendship with dear Marjie!

Darleen Newman

 

The hats and scarves that Marjie made were one of the things I looked forward to most every year! PK/MK Retreat was my favorite PennDel event of the whole year! It was such a great feeling walking into dinner the first night and seeing all the hard work Marjie had done just for us PKs/MKs. It made us feel so special.

Each hat and scarf came with a scripture tied to them with a piece of yarn. I still have them as well as the hats and scarves I collected over the years. That simple gesture meant the world to me growing up and so does Marjie! Marjie sowed seeds into our lives with each stitch she knitted. Marjie is incredible!

Jolyn Jones

The Belle Vernon Dream

As a church rooted and planted in Fayette County, Faith Assembly has sensed a call to be a county-wide church that is aware of and addressing the major issues of our area. Through prayer and conversation with other Fayette County churches, four specific areas have been identified as strongholds over our community. Those specific strongholds are poverty, dysfunctional homes, spirit of religion and empty wells of addiction. In 2016, there was a strong desire to move beyond prayer for the stronghold of addiction and to begin “getting our hands dirty” in the matter.  As a church, we began to ask God for a piece of property that would become a home to a ministry and to a small group of men who would become discipled and changed by the Spirit of God.

When it comes to the drug epidemic in Fayette County, our desire is to see broken lives restored. The plan is to begin a discipleship home first and then establish a church in the same community. In the Recovery Phase, we would open a home to men who are willing to commit to a six-month program that would integrate discipleship classes, a work program and support group. The work program would include a cleaning service that is made available to area churches for financial support. In the Church Phase, the church would launch as an extension of Faith Assembly with a campus pastor serving on-site.

In a miraculous answer to prayer, Presbyter Tim Bunney and the Southwest Suburban Home Missions Committee offered us a recently donated property that includes a church, apartments and classrooms. We are grateful for this generous gift. Our next step is to begin the renovation on the property. We ask for your help in seeing the Dream become a Reality in Belle Vernon!

Philly Dream Center

 

As Urban Missionaries, we feel a strong call to one of the neediest parts of the city, North Philadelphia and Kensington. Here are some of the ministries that have been launched in our first year of ministry in these communities:

S.H.I.N.E (Spreading Hope In Neighborhoods Everywhere)  is reaching children with a sidewalk Sunday School. One of the locations is nicknamed “Needle Park” because of the notorious fame for a park where drug dealers and addicts congregate. In the midst of this, there are many unattended children playing at the park. On a weekly basis, we reach these children, as well as some guardians, with this outreach.

Mobile Food Pantry distributes free groceries to needy families and seniors. Philadelphia is the poorest “big city” in the nation. Nearly 25% of children go many mornings and nights without a proper meal. This is why we purchased a large truck to distribute much needed food throughout the most needy neighborhoods of Philadelphia.

Midnight Angels is a ministry that Shirrie leads with a team of women who reach women in high human trafficking areas including strip clubs. The team drops off gift baskets, prays for the women, and invites them to a Bible study.

We need your help… We have reached a point where we are in need of purchasing or leasing a facility where our church can move forward with the dream that God has given us… launching community worship services, offering a School of Urban Missions cohort, hosting Philadelphia short term mission trips and internships, and developing micro industries (Philly needs “Double J”- Jesus and Jobs).

UNTIL ALL KNOW

As pastors, we have to evaluate the direction we are going and encourage those who are going with us. We must instill biblical values, inspire dreams, and then measure the results. Pastor Jim and Wendy Paisley are youth pastors who are leading a turnaround youth ministry in missions. When they arrived at Faith AG in Hazleton, PA they were met by students that never gave a thought about missions or missions giving. Their giving to Speed The Light was marginal.    

It is universally considered that to “turn something around” is to reverse the previously poor performance of something and make it successful. But, how do you do this? Pastor Jim was faced with the obstacles of:

Changing a mindset

Changing culture

Having no goal

Pastor Jim revealed his secrets and overcame these obstacles by:

Consistently speaking toward the mission

Actively involving students in a fundraiser

Mentoring through personal giving

Now their youth ministry consistently raises over $10K each year for Speed The Light, with a record high giving of $21,751. Jim said, “What excites me most is that many students have graduated from high school and are still giving to either Speed The Light or our church’s missions fund. We have also seen a difference in our community because we are raising up a generation that has a desire to reach the lost both near and far. We believe that we are helping equip missionaries with the essential means to reach people with the Gospel all over the world! Our students’ heartbeat is to go and to send!”

 

Doug Sayers

Youth Ministries

717.795.5921

dyd@penndel.org

It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

The Turnaround

Devin and I came to Abundant Life Church in Birdsboro in the beginning of 2014. The church had been in existence for about twelve years, but was now struggling in a number of ways. Attendance was very low (around 40), the building was in desperate need of updating, and many of the once thriving ministries had lost their steam. Now four years later, because of God’s grace, consistent prayer, strong leadership, a faithful core of laborers, and wise financial restructuring, our small church has been revitalized. Four years ago, our church wasn’t very involved in the community, but now there are so many ways people can get involved and serve, and really make a local impact physically and spiritually.

Loving Loud in the
Community

When we arrived in Birdsboro, one of the first things God led us to pray for was unity with other churches, and He has answered that prayer while teaching us how to reach out and make valuable connections with other local churches! A major aspect of our community impact is our partnership with other churches in the area that share the same Gospel-driven mission; I don’t think there is any one outreach that our church does 100% exclusively. Our weekly children and youth ministries impact many unchurched families. A handful of those families have started attending our church, and many of them are still building a relationship with us through their children. We host an annual community VBS, and again, a handful of the volunteers are from other local churches.

Our church also serves a few times each year at our town’s “Community Table” which provides a free sit-down meal for anyone in need. We provide the dinner, serve the people, and have opportunities to sit and listen to their stories. We partner with our local fire department and hold an annual community egg hunt which has grown to become a very large well-attended community event. Each Christmas, we support the town’s Christmas celebration by providing the live music and giving out free concessions.

We partnered with three other churches and held a one day event in the park last summer called, “Love Loud.” Close to 1,000 people benefited from free haircuts, health screenings, groceries, lunch, family portraits, and much more! We hope to make this an annual event because the families in our community really need this kind of love and support! We have also helped to start a “Celebrate Recovery” ministry, again partnering with other local pastors and lay leaders to meet a major need of those with addictions.

Turnaround Lives

After being at Abundant Life for about a year, we launched a “Rebuild Project” to update our building. Devin set a goal of about $70,000 to raise for the renovations, however, we would need volunteers to do a lot of the labor. During this time, a young man started visiting the church. This young man was a plumber, and when he heard that we needed new toilets installed, he volunteered to help. It was during those late nights of bathroom renovations, working side by side with Devin, that this young man had the opportunity to really share his story. Because he felt needed and was given opportunity to connect with other Christians, he began to realize God’s purpose and calling on his life. He began to be involved in discipleship opportunities, and he and his wife invited God’s healing power into their lives and marriage. Both of them have since gone through our discipleship “growth track” and are actively serving in ministry. They both went on their first mission trip this past summer and are continuing to grow in their walk with Jesus!

Our Turnaround Steps

  • A weekly prayer meeting with a handful of faithful members
    • We consistently sought God for wisdom each week and asked in faith for big things. It didn’t matter that there were only about ten people coming out to pray each week. What mattered was that we were faithful, and we prayed with faith.
  • A small core of faithful laborers
    • We invested in a core of volunteers who had a heart to serve and who were supportive of the new leadership.
  • Patience to learn and strengthen the existing church culture
    • We did not make any major changes in the first six months, instead we focused on preaching God’s Word, seeking God for vision, and building relationships with the people.
  • Financial restructuring
    • Devin’s accounting background was an asset as he was able to make some major changes to spending so the church could steward their money in a much wiser way. Devin has been bi-vocational as an accountant and just recently went full-time at the church.
  • Casting fresh vision
    • Sharing a new vision and new goals with the church helped people know where we were headed and that they were needed for the journey! In our case, our building remodel project greatly contributed to the growth and involvement of attendees.
  • Wise counsel from others
    • We asked for advice and guidance from many wise leaders outside of our church. One of the best pieces of wisdom we received in regard to the revitalization process was, “It’s a marathon, NOT a sprint.”

Guest Contributor

Jess Blankenbiller

Abundant Life Church

Birdsboro, PA

TURNAROUND LEADERS – ADAM BARNES

We pastor in North Central Pennsylvania. The church was primarily a small, older congregation but we have utilized resources offered through PennDel such as the Acts 2 Journey and Coaching and have partnered with ministries like One18 Movement; these helped our church grow in both organizational structure, in connecting with our community, and so much more!

At our last Easter Egg hunt held at a nearby elementary school in Lairdsville (population 72), we had over 700 people attend. There I connected with a middle-aged man named Mike. A few months later, after connecting with a few people from our congregation, he attended one of our services. There he communicated that he was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, and after more than 30 years away from the Lord, he wanted to recommit his life to God. Later his wife, son, and other family members gave their hearts to the Lord and have joined the church. They continue to invite friends and relatives to church and share the difference that Christ has made in their lives.

 

Adam Barnes

Radiant Light AG, Muncy

pastoradamag@gmail.com

Recent Articles

  • No Reset Button

    Students know how to reset all kinds of devices, but resetting a student ministry is not so simple. Everyone knows that most adults “don’t like change,” but some students in…

  • Organize or Agonize

    January comes around every year, and every year it’s considered a time to reset personal priorities and take time to figure out what we’re going to do in the…

  • Reset Your Life: Emotionally

    As spiritual leaders, we regularly speak to others about issues in their lives. However, we often fail to examine some of these same issues as they relate to ourselves.…