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It’s amazing to watch our church get healthy! We have vibrant Spirit-filled worship, more people using their gifts in ministry and a higher attendance in our Sunday night prayer meetings. We are building bridges and relationships through our outreaches. Where we provide food, clothing and the gospel.

During one of these outreaches, we connect with a new family. The wife and children would come to service, but the husband wouldn’t even enter the sanctuary because he “doesn’t do church.” Every Sunday myself and others would greet him with a smile and handshake. He slowly started coming into the worship service. He soon gave his heart to Christ and was discipled by one of my deacons. He joined the worship team and was recently baptized with his wife.

The best part of turnaround churches is seeing turnaround lives.


Barry Brown

Evangel AG, Glenolden


Although the term “church revitalization” has not commonly been in use for more than a few decades, the concept of churches needing to reverse their course and do a turnaround is as old as the New Testament scriptures. Jesus conducted a church health assessment of the churches in Asia in Revelation chapters 2 and 3. In five of the seven churches addressed, Jesus issues warnings that indicate they must take corrective action or risk the consequence of discipline or closure. Stanley M. Horton observes:

Each letter begins with a revelation of Jesus and a commendation, usually followed by a warning and a challenge. However, Jesus commends the churches’ virtues even more than He warns them of their faults. He knows exactly what is going on in each church. He knows their successes, their failures, their victories, their problems, their difficulties. More than that, He knows exactly what each one needs.

Another important observation in the letters to the seven churches is to whom they are directed. Each letter starts out with the same addressee: “To the angel of the church in…” The Greek word “angel” (angelos) is defined as a messenger, and is commonly interpreted to mean the pastor or leader of that church. Horton comments, “Like a watchman walking among them, He subjects them to rigid inspection. His purpose, however, is to encourage, preserve, and challenge them.”

Research indicates that approximately 80 percent of churches in America are either plateaued or in decline. Thom Rainer of the Rainer Research Group states, “Eight out of ten of the approximately 400,000 churches in the United States are declining or have plateaued. Of the churches for which we have data, 84 percent are declining or experiencing a growth rate below the population growth rate for their communities. The latter is defined as a plateaued church.” Although the Rainer Research Group gives a cross-denominational perspective, the same general trends are reported within the Assemblies of God. According to Alton Garrison, Assemblies of God General Assistant Superintendent and Director of the Acts 2 Journey revitalization initiative, 25.6 percent of Assemblies of God churches have plateaued, and 43.1 percent are in decline. Garrison notes that the rate of declining churches is at its highest in almost twenty years.

Despite the sobering statistics, here are four reasons for hope and optimism!

  1. First, the church belongs to Jesus Christ. We are His, and He takes special interest in His bride’s success and future. Jesus makes it clear: “I will build my church…” (Matthew 16:16) Jesus is determined to see His church move forward and has given us the necessary gifts and empowerment to enter into an effective partnership with Him in His mission.
  2. Secondly, there is a plethora of resources available to assist pastors and leadership teams to change their course from plateau or decline to growth and greater effectiveness. The Acts 2 Journey has seen measurable success in our Network and throughout the nation. Thom Rainer’s book on “Breakout Churches” and Ed Stetzer’s book entitled “Comeback Churches” are two must-reads for the pastor who is determined and committed to coming off a plateau or reversing the spiral of decline.
  3. A third reason for optimism is increased effectiveness that can be derived using a coach or mentor. Both Gene Woods and Thom Rainer identify that having outside input can be a significant benefit in leading a turnaround church. In his intensive study of thirteen “breakout” churches, Rainer states “at least eleven of the thirteen breakout churches had leaders who indicated the impact of ‘Positive Outside Influences’ in the turnaround in their churches.” Trained, certified coaches are now prepared, and a financial pathway is available to utilize this resource through a plan of underwriting and cost sharing through the PennDel Ministry Network for credentialed ministers (contact Tom Rees for more information at
  4. A final reason to be optimistic is optimism itself. Research identifies that when optimism was embraced, a willingness to change, consider future realities and prospects rather than idealizing the past, and openness to new methodology was also experienced in congregations. As Paul said, “Hope does not disappoint [us]” (Romans 5:5).

At some point, every church or ministry will face the prospect of plateau or decline. If this happens to be your context, please know that you are not alone, and you do not have to navigate these challenges by yourself. God most certainly cares, and we most certainly care. As a Network we are available and continue to explore, develop, and offer assistance to helping your church or ministry experience a turnaround.


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


Turning around
is not always as
simple as it sounds!

A coach is a trusted companion to help navigate the complex matrix of life and ministry. Whether the turnaround is needed in your ministry, team, family or self, PennDel Coaching can provide the support and collaboration that is necessary for you to successfully navigate what can otherwise be an overwhelming journey. The results are clarity, hope, renewed passion and a plan to arrive at your God-ordained destination.

PennDel Coaching is building the Kingdom by strengthening the Kingdom Builders! Many credential holders have already taken advantage of the PennDel Coaching initiative which provides free professional coaching with certified AG coaches for three months (6 sessions), and then three months of subsidized coaching (1/2 price).

You can find out more and at


I always felt that by sending me to a church as the recovery pastor, God was showing that He had not forgotten them even though others had given up on them. Second of all, God will lead and guide you. He is on your side to bring the church back into wholeness and health. With that being said, it takes a special calling to become a turnaround pastor and here are some qualities which are vitally important to have or to develop quickly:


In every case the congregation was hurting and feeling lost, and they needed a shepherd to love them and to show them that God had not given up on them. They needed a pastor they could learn to trust.


Your family will need to support you, sacrifice their lives with you, pray with you (and FOR you) and not be easily offended by the words or actions of hurting people.


Communicate it all: your vision, your plans, and your actions. You cannot close yourself off from your church. You cannot think that you have to do this alone to prove yourself.


You will most likely have to organize the offices, the ministries of the church and the maintenance of the buildings and grounds. Decluttering and cleaning house shows that a church is honoring God.


If you are not good at finances, get the help you need and find a person qualified to do the bookkeeping. However, with whatever system you use, or with whoever does the accounting, be fully involved in all the decisions. You don’t need to have details, such as who gave what in the offering, but you need to know the monthly giving trends and exactly what the expenses are.


People love to have their pastor involved in their lives more than just on Sunday. This is pretty basic for every pastor but absolutely essential for a recovery pastor. Visiting someone in the hospital and praying with them is never out of fashion.

Your love for God and service to Him will not only help you guide the church, but it will guide your heart as well. He will use the spiritual gifts He’s given you and will equip you in areas where you need it the most!

Article adapted from “The Ministry Of Recovery”

 Guest Contributor:  Bill and Joy Kelly


When I first started in Children’s Ministry, I only focused on kids and the Sunday morning service. It’s what I was comfortable doing and what I loved doing the most! It became evident after a few months that this couldn’t be my only priority. I was receiving feedback that I had not been performing in some crucial areas. This was shocking at first because I was doing what I knew how to do! I realized I was missing the bigger picture and failing to invest in the other people who also had influence in the children’s lives. The catalyst for the turnaround of our ministry was when I began to pour into relationships with the staff, the parents, and my volunteers.

God brought two amazing men into my life who became mentors to me. They challenged, encouraged and pushed me to grow. As they shared experiences and wisdom with me, I understood how much I didn’t know. This sent me to my knees and I prayed that the Lord would give me a heart and passion for growth! My mindset began to change from thinking I knew it all to being open to learning from others and admitting I needed help.


Tyler White

Spring Valley Community Church, Royersford


When you hear the name Harley Davidson you most likely think of motorcycles. I know I do, since I rode Harley Davidson motorcycles for many years! But something you may not know about the company is that in 1981, it had a U.S. market share of only 15% and reported a loss of $15 million. Competition from Japanese manufacturers, such as Honda, was
creating problems for them and they were struggling.

Then Richard Teerlink was brought on board as the chief financial officer and eventually became CEO in 1989. He decided to refocus the company on some basic principles:

increasing quality

improving customer and dealer services

producing world-class motorcycles

By the time Teerlink stepped down in 1997, Harley Davidson had increased their U.S. market share to 50% and saw annual sales of $1.7 billion.

While serving in ministry is not exactly the same as running a business like Harley Davidson, it can certainly go through similar struggles of plateau or even decline. While there are a number of factors that can bring about struggle for a church, how leaders approach these times will have a great impact on the trajectory of the church moving forward. So, what are some things that leaders can do to help bring about the change they are wanting in their church or ministry?

First, it’s important to stop and take stock of exactly where you are right now. To do that, you need to gather data and look at measurable factors. Once you have that information, evaluate it honestly. What’s working well? Where is there room to improve? Be specific. It can be easy to make sweeping generalizations about what isn’t working and why, but it’s important to look at specific things that can be changed and then reevaluated to see if it worked.

Trying to turn a ministry around can feel like trying to turn a cruise ship on a dime — nearly impossible. To help avoid you or your staff becoming discouraged, take small steps and look for small wins along the way. However, that doesn’t mean that you take your eyes off of your bigger vision for the future. There needs to be a balance. When making a turn on a motorcycle, you don’t want to stay focused on the ground right beneath you. Instead, you want your gaze to look ahead to where you’re going, which will help the turn to be smooth and steady.

No matter what, you need to follow God’s leading and continue to persevere in the face of trials. Hebrews 12:1 tells us to strip off every weight that slows us down and run with endurance the race that God has set before us. After all, God is the one who directs our paths and He is the one who can truly bring about change.



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!


I spent all of my time focusing my attention on playing sports. As I grew older I found that I could throw things really far and fast. I was pretty accurate with a football. This lifestyle of athletics would consume my life. I would say that playing sports, specifically football, became an idol and my entire worldview framework was centered on this very thing. I often tell folks that I went to school to play sports. I became varsity quarterback and was operating at a pretty high level but my moral life was almost completely bankrupt.

During my senior year, I had a girlfriend that I did not treat well. I was very selfish and this proved true in many areas of my life. We ended up in a crisis pregnancy situation which we (very much under my heavy pressure and persuasion) decided to terminate. From here, I didn’t know which way to go and only knew the easiest thing to do was to run. I ended up leaving her and walking away.

I left for college and eventually landed back at a Division II school in Northeastern Pennsylvania. In my first game, I was hit awkwardly and thrown to the ground. I was diagnosed with a third degree shoulder separation. I thought my life was over, with no faith foundation, nothing to ground me, a traumatic situation, and now a prescription to opioid pain relievers. I fell in love with these pills. They allowed me to not have to deal with physical pain, but far more importantly, they helped me escape reality. And escape is just what I did.

My life got out of hand to the point that I began using heroin, and I found myself in various legal challenges. I was in and out of jail and had convinced myself each time I was released that things would be different. However, I continued the same old routine every time, and I would end up back in jail. My life was a mess, and I finally accepted the fact that this was my destiny.

The last time I was in the county jail my mother sought desperately to find somewhere that would help me. She couldn’t afford to send me to many viable options at that time, until she came across a place called Pennsylvania Adult and Teen Challenge (PAATC) in Western Pennsylvania. By the sheer grace of God, I was permitted to enter into this program at a later court date.

It was November 8, 2006 that I walked through the doors of Teen Challenge. I came in very much uninterested in the program.
I simply was willing to go because it was a better option than jail. However, the Lord had different plans. It was New Year’s Day,
after the ball had dropped, that I found myself in the small chapel in Western Pennsylvania crying out for the mercy and grace of God. My life had changed, and now I was on a path to know this God who redeemed me!

One of the many things I needed to do was apologize to the girl from high school. After completing the PAATC program, she agreed to meet. There was a lot of anxiety, but I was able to apologize for the way I treated her nine years earlier. What was amazing is that she shared with me that she too had given her life to the Lord as well. Our relationship was restored and less than a year later we were married. My beautiful wife, Toni, and I now have four wonderful children: Isaac, Ayriana, Isabella, and Kristopher, Jr. The story continues to amaze me!

Since then, God continued to take me on a journey eventually becoming the first graduate of PAATC to ever become the corporate President/CEO. The work of God is amazing, and I am very thankful for the people He has placed in my life and the many wonderful gifts He’s given me, but all of it is rooted in the gracious gift of His Son, Jesus Christ!



  • Would you buy discount tires for $25 a tire and put them on your car? Your tires are your shoes.
  • Would you constantly pour sugar into your gas tank? Your mouth is the opening to your gas tank.
  • Would you let your car run on dirty spark plugs, faulty fuel injectors, and dirty oil? Yet we allow high blood pressure and high blood sugar to destroy the inner workings of our body.
  • Would you run your car all day at 100 mph? Yet we run our bodies without the rest it needs to rejuvenate.


  • Big Toe Flexibility is critically important. Your shoes, as mentioned are crucial. Allow for an ample toe box, along with a shoe that is flexible in nature (not board stiff).
  • 10 deep breaths can lower blood pressure. It can also stabilize pulse, relieve tension headaches, reduce stress and relieve fatigue. 1 minute of anger takes about 1 hour to recalibrate the body back to normal. 5 min = 5 hours. Breathe your way out of anger or stress.
  • Breathe through your nose, in and out.
  • Joint range of motion is critical. Shoulders, hips and ankles. Everyone seems to focus on stretching. JROM (Joint Range of Motion) is far more important.
  • Sleep is critical. 8 to 9 hours a night. Your body will re-energize and repair between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. From midnight on, your body is detoxing. If you are waking up between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m., your adrenal glands are likely taxed.
  • When walking or jogging, do not increase your mileage over 10% a week. More isn’t always better.
  • Mild Dehydration will slow your metabolism as much as 3%. Drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day. Example: 200 pounds is 100 ounces of water a day and more if you are exercising. Lack of water is the number one reason for daytime fatigue. If your lips are dry, you are lacking 7% of your body’s water supply. 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. Rule Of Thumb: If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated.
  • Digestion is the hardest thing to do. That’s why we (break-fast).
  • Proteins = 8 hours to digest
  • Carbs = 4 hours to digest
  • Fruits = 20 minutes to digest.
  • If you consume a large amount of protein for dinner, it will be digesting while you are sleeping. You want your body to be able to shut down and rest during sleep. Consume your largest protein meal at lunchtime if possible.
  • Awesome snacks: Celery, Strawberries, Beef Jerky (small amount) and Almonds.
Coach Bryan Hoddle was coach for the USA Paralympics Track and Field Team. He has worked extensively with injured soldiers at Walter Reed and Lakeshore Foundation earning him the moniker, the Soldier’s Coach. Bryan now works with Dave Roever, helping wounded vets adjust back to life. You can follow Bryan at and check out his video interview at


HURRICANE HARVEY made landfall into Texas, deposited up to 65.5” of water and the devastation left behind will haunt those caught in its path for years to come. In an instant, every possession, pet, article of clothing, pictures, jewelry, beds, cars, and even the safety of one’s home and family members were entirely lost or in jeopardy…in a blink of an eye. For thousands of these destitute Americans, there seemed no hope or help. And so, this is where the Church arose!

On the morning of September 9, Pastor David Richards and I arrived at the doorstep of the McGowen Elementary School in Houston, Texas, with a 26’ long box truck loaded with pallets of cleaning supplies, food, and other necessary items that the members of Christian Life Assembly donated. We were preceded by a Convoy of Hope truck and another truck filled to capacity with water. A short while later, approximately 45 volunteers arrived, along with Pastor David Hogan from nearby Spring First Church and McGowen’s Principal, Jeffrey Whitaker. God gave the leaders and the workers supernatural wisdom and compassion that day, as we were all “of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” Philippians 2:2.

After setting up the distribution line in front of the school, cars pulled up and the line quickly stretched well beyond eyesight. As each car entered into the distribution area, volunteers spoke with each person, prayed with them, and provided them with cases of water, food, and supplies. Volunteers, motivated by the love of Christ, ministered to many who were filled with fear and stress. Many were exhausted and had tears streaming down their faces, but as they drove home, we could sense a new hope kindled in their hearts.

As we talked with the neighbors, the reality of their present situation set in. The smells that permeated the air were moldy and mixed with many other unpleasant aromas. Visually, the street was lined with enormous piles of garbage, sewage water tainted furniture, clothing, toys, plaster, wood fragments; essentially every item that would be found inside a person’s home, as far as one could see. All was now rubbish. 

As we moved across the neighborhoods, it became apparent that all of the things that brought about division prior to the flood were now all washed away. There was no more rich or poor; old or young; black, white, Hispanic, Asian, or Native American; the floodwater held no bias. Whether you owned a Ford or a Lexus, all were irrelevant under four feet of water. The streets continued to be lined with possessions of every type. The material things most people seem to value were littering the streets. Unfortunately, it took a storm to help people realize that what matters most are human lives, not things that will rot or crumble away. While there are so many stories to tell, there is one story in particular that demonstrates God’s love, mercy, and faithfulness.

Erica and Luis are Mexican. They have a beautiful little 5-year-old daughter whom they are raising together. Prior to the storm, many of their black neighbors ostracized them for being of Mexican decent. They were ignored and felt hated and persecuted. Then came the storm. As the floodwaters rose to life-threatening levels, people began attempting to flee.

Erica explains that as they were looking out their window, they saw a black mother holding her two 4-month old daughters above her head, while the water was directly beneath her mouth. She was yelling for help and nobody would come. Luis made a decision to go help them… some of the same people who had persecuted them. And then he went out into the water and saved, not only the mother and the twin babies, but 15 other people including the elderly and disabled.

After she told us this tremendous story, she explained that Luis is away in Austin, as this is the only place he could find work. The storm forced his employer to relocate him, since there has been no available work for them to do near their home, which is as devastated as any other homes in the neighborhood. Just then, the Holy Spirit prompted me to pray for them. I told Erica that the Lord would honor and reward Luis for loving his neighbors, his enemies. I prayed that God would bring Luis home and provide a job close to his family where he could be there and help to rebuild their home. We said our goodbyes and my team left to go help another home two doors down from Erica’s.

As we began speaking to the lady at this new home, perhaps a minute after we left Erica’s house, Erica came running up to us in such a state of excitement! “I just got a call from Luis! His boss just told him that he has a job for him near his home and that he is to begin immediately!” Even as I write this I am fighting back the tears that came into the eyes of everyone that was there that day!

Jesus’s love is breaking the yolk
of racism, poverty, and hatred.
He is doing the miraculous in Houston,
Texas…and He is far from done!

Guest Contributor: Lee Hyman



When a church in Houston said that they needed help with a hard hit neighborhood, churches around the country heard the cry and stepped up to serve.  Christian Life Assembly heard the plea, CLA then jumped into action raising funds to purchase water, food, and cleaning supplies.

That’s when CLA realized that the families in Houston needed supplies now and began to receive these supplies on Sunday mornings and throughout the week. CLA was able to send three trucks with over 39 pallets piled with clothing, food, water, cleaning supplies, baby formula and diapers.

Now CLA is sending teams to help with the repair work and continued distribution of supplies to thousands of homes still in need. We will continue to take teams and will continue as long as the call of God tugs on the hearts of our congregation and community.

Pastor David Richards
Executive Pastor


There was a time not so long ago when our churches had special times of prayer, waiting on God around the church altar. These times often took place on a Sunday night in response to the preaching of God’s Word or a moving of the Spirit during praise and worship. Older saints and caring adults would often pray over teenagers. Many children and teenagers came to Christ, were filled with the Spirit, and were called to ministry during these altar times. Altar times knit the church family together and allowed His body to use their ministry gifts to build up His church. Unfortunately, many churches have moved from these special times for various reasons.

Yet, there is a question that haunts me. Where will our children and teenagers get to experience the power and presence of God in 2018? Who will call them back to the altar? It doesn’t have to be a physical location or a piece of furniture in the church but rather a genuine experience with Christ that leads to a daily encounter with Jesus. Where will our children be filled with the Holy Spirit and learn that they are loved and supported by caring adults? It’s time to return to the altar and encounter Jesus!

This next year, let’s have a passion to see a generation of young and old experience God’s transformative power. There will be an emphasis on the altar at each PDYM event in 2018. Would you join us this year in praying and challenging this generation? Start by praying for and over our young people. Then, challenge them to reject spiritual passivity and confront areas of compromise that prevent them from experiencing revival. May we once again discover that the altar is where God defines our future as He chooses to forget our past.

This is a call to those who still believe this generation is worthy of an altar experience. Who will join us in prayer, together reclaiming the altars? It starts at the Altar.

8 Principles of Change from a Rocket Scientist

Most of us have a love-hate relationship with change. We love it when it clearly benefits us or when we think everyone else needs to change for our sake. But when change robs us of that secure attachment to the familiar or when it’s forced on us against our will, it’s an easy thing to resent. Here are a set of suggestions for walking people through change – anxieties and all.

  1. Always emphasize mission over preference.
    In healthy ministries, the mission answers the question as to why changes are needed, not the status quo or people’s personal preferences or the leader’s insecurities. Change should always be tied to mission.
  2. Pace changes wisely and realistically.
    Too much change can ruin good change. Changing the systems too often can keep them from ever taking root in the ministry culture and becoming effective.
  3. Assess the real reasons for resistance to change.
    More often than not, people resist change because the process for bringing about change is flawed.
  4. Create a sense of urgency.
    People will change either because they want to or because they have to. Urgency can be a powerful motivator.
  5. Build a team of influencers to champion the change.
    It’s difficult, if not impossible, for a leader to change an entire ministry culture alone.
  6. Build ownership by letting people participate in the planning.
    When we walk people through change, our goal isn’t for them to reluctantly submit out of respect for our authority but to be enthusiastically committed to the change.
  7. Remember that behaviors change faster than personalities.
    Changing a ministry’s culture is usually a long process, but behaviors are easier to change and are therefore usually the best starting points for bringing change.
  8. Never forget the power of trust.
    Trust is the foundation of our relationship with Christ and the essential ingredient in any healthy human relationship. It is also the one non-negotiable for leading a group of people through change.

Adapted from Lead So Others Can Follow by Dr. James T. Bradford. For more enlightening lessons on leadership, join Dr. Bradford, our guest speaker, for Minister’s Enrichment on October 2–4, 2017.

Life Is Hard

It was the Christmas of 1996, and Robin Kettering, mother of three and pastor’s wife, remembers her family packing up to head to the Florida Keys for a seaside holiday. She was excited to break in a new pair of sneakers on the trip, but began to notice an unusual numb sensation in her right foot. At first assuming the shoes were the cause, she overlooked the issue. However, more questions began to arise when the numbness in her foot continued to spread to her leg. She knew something was not right.

Within a year, Robin was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a disease that hones in on the brain and spinal cord. It creates a disconnect between the brain and the rest of the body, often causing fatigue, limited mobility, or loss of vision.

As a person of faith, how do you respond to the diagnosis of a chronic disease with no cure?

Aside from the fear and emotion that coincides with this kind of news, Robin reminisces, “I felt thankful in my heart because I knew God was going to take care of me. Life is hard, but God is good.” Her resolution to trust in God, even though depression and anger could have easily set in, is the theme that has reigned in her life, especially in the last twenty years.

Robin has always been determined, energetic, and passionate about ministry. As a young lady, she attended University of Valley Forge to follow God’s call to ministry. At Valley Forge, she met her husband, Jeff Kettering, and they moved into full-time pastoring after graduating from Bible school. Robin invested in the youth and children’s programs; however, her calling shifted as she became a mom to three energetic boys, Tim, Peter, and Michael. She also worked as a lifeguard, a school bus driver and taught swimming lessons.

In the last twenty years, her life has shifted externally but has remained steadfast at the foundation. She has learned to adapt to life in a wheelchair, and even embraces the conversations it initiates. When acquaintances pity her condition, she assures them, “God is taking care of me.”

She says that you should never underestimate the power of staying connected to people and to a support system. As a naturally independent person, she has learned dependency; depending on her husband and on her caregivers to help her with daily tasks has taught her the importance of humility and keeping a thankful, gentle spirit. She has learned to accept her limitations and does what she can with what she has been given.

As a recently ordained AG pastor, Robin uses her story to share with women’s groups and churches. She communicates with passion her prescription, her 4 M’s recipe for joy. The detours her life has taken, due to MS, have not always been easy, but she has still managed to keep a tight grip on joy.

To anyone who has a hard diagnosis, a loss, a devastating disappointment or a detour in life, Robin encourages you to remember that God still has a plan for you. And to remember that you did not do anything wrong to bring you to this place. She reiterates that if you trust in God, He will see you through. “Yes, life is hard, but yes, God is good.” 

Robin’s 4 M’s to Joy


She is constantly asking for help from God, “Lord help me!”

Don’t be afraid to ask for help when
you are in need. (Romans 10:13)


She keeps a melody and song in her mind and heart always.

Robin’s Go-To Songs for Encouragement:
Just Be Held by Casting Crowns & Come Holy Spirit


She meditates on scripture daily to
keep her spirit revived and encouraged.

Robin’s Go-To Scriptures:
Philippians 4 & Romans 8:28


She makes up her mind to say yes to God.

When you don’t know what to pray, pray the Lord’s Prayer to keep your mind centered on God’s will.

Follow The Leader

We’ve probably all played the game “Follow the Leader,” and while some may consider it just a simple game for children, it really does represent the whole point of leadership. After all, it’s hard to be a leader when no one is following you! So what does it look like to lead so that others can follow? In the last issue of Connexions, I shared about a picture of leadership, which encompassed five tried and true leadership practices.

One of those practices, “Model the Way,” describes how we lead through the four “C’s:” competency, chemistry, character, and calling. We need to know what we’re doing, be able to get along and work with other people, be a person of integrity, and be aware of and obedient to God’s calling on our lives. Psalm 78:72 speaks of David and says that “He cared for them with a true heart and led them with skillful hands.”

Leading with character is extremely important, and attitude plays a big role in that. Your attitude is one thing you can control that will have a big impact on your success as a leader. How do you respond when things go wrong or when you face difficulties? Do you have the same values at home as you do at church? Are you following Jesus personally? You can only lead others as well as you are being led. If you’re not continually pursuing a close relationship with Christ and being led by Him, then where are you leading those who are following you? While changing negative attitudes can be difficult, it can be done with prayer and perseverance.

Another thing to keep in mind when leading so that others can follow is this: if we want the people we lead to follow us and stay on the right path, we need to guide from the front instead of driving from the back. Cattle ranchers drive from the back – they yell and use a whip to get the cattle where they need to be. Shepherds, on the other hand guide from the front. The sheep know the shepherd’s voice and trust it enough to follow. When we have integrity and inspire trust in the people we lead, they will follow us. This is why in the LEAD U training that we do with leaders at GT, the biblical picture for “Model the Way” is the shepherd’s staff to remind us to lead from the front.

There is a story told about an army that was chasing after Alexander the Great. They were expecting to surprise him from behind and overtake him. What they weren’t expecting was being led completely outside the borders of the map they had and feeling completely lost. Sometimes that’s how it is with following Christ. He can lead us to places where we feel completely off the map with no clue where we are going. But if we continue to follow Him, we can be sure that we are going in the right direction along with those who follow us.

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.

Be Fearless

“Can I tell you about what I’ve been doing in my school?” McKenzie asked me one night after I spoke at her youth group. She was quiet and unassuming, but I could tell she had a passion for Jesus and a story to share. She told me how she’d invited her entire class to a weekly Bible Study, and that a few dozen students were attending regularly. I was a little surprised because McKenzie was a very shy and quiet student; she was not the personality type most people would expect to fearlessly launch a movement and make a difference for the Gospel.


A few months later I contacted McKenzie and asked if we could document her story with a video, and if she would be willing to appear on stage with me at an event to tell the story in her own words. She declined. McKenzie said, “To be honest, I’m very shy and I don’t consider myself to be a leader. I’m not comfortable in front of large crowds, and I don’t want to draw attention to myself. I just want to make a difference for Jesus amongst my friends and in my school.” I was disappointed with her response, but I wasn’t surprised; this was more in line with what most would expect from her personality type. McKenzie reveals an interesting juxtaposition for all of us who follow Jesus; we are not all called to be leaders, but we are all called to lead others to Christ.


In the church, we have too frequently conflated these separate concepts, and often to the detriment of the mission of God. The Apostle Paul wrote that some have the gift of leadership, but some have other gifts, such as serving or giving (see Romans 12:3-8). At the same time, all believers are called to lead others to Christ (Matthew 28:19-20), and we can even receive the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8). So we are not all leaders, but we are all to be leading our friends and acquaintances to Christ. McKenzie was a perfect working example of this seeming irreconcilable contradiction; she wasn’t a leader, yet she was leading many to the Cross through the Scriptures. She was making a difference for the Gospel, fulfilling the call placed upon all followers of Christ.


When we assume that only “leaders” can start a movement that will make a difference, or that only those in leadership can share the Gospel, we severely limit the scope and breadth of God’s mission. We also limit the further discipleship and effectiveness of all believers. Worst of all, we put the Holy Spirit in a box, as though the empowerment that is for all followers of Christ is only for a few. It’s time to reject this way of thinking. It’s time to embrace the truth that all believers are called to make a difference for the Gospel; that all can share their faith without fear; that each one can be used by God to shape history.


Join us for a brand new event designed to equip teenagers to make a difference for the Gospel. This is not an event for “leaders,” it’s an event for all believers! It’s Fearless: One Day to Make a Difference, a one-day conference happening in three locations: west, central, and east. Students will be inspired and empowered to serve their friends, talk about their faith, and make a difference without fear. For details and to register, go to



A Picture of Leadership

The sixth president of the United States, John Quincy Adams, had this to say about leaders: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” That’s a powerful definition! At GT Church we’ve struggled at times with how to raise up these kinds of leaders. We want to build a strong leadership culture, and we have worked towards that goal by developing a discussion model of training we call Lead U.

We invite current and potential leaders, both staff and volunteer, to go through this training so that we share a unified vision of what a leader does. When they’ve completed the training, our leaders should walk away understanding and applying five core practices/values of leadership which were taken and adapted from The Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner.

You’ve heard the phrase “a picture’s worth a thousand words,” and it’s true. Sometimes an image can speak volumes. We have chosen to tie each core practice to an image in order to create a picture of leadership:

Model the Way
David was chosen by God to lead the Israelites, and Psalm 78:72 says that, “He cared for them with a true heart and led them with skillful hands.” Lead with character and competency. Set the example. Model the steps and actions you want people to take. Things need to get done, but if you’re lacking character, then you’re missing the most vital piece of the puzzle.

Inspire a Shared Vision
Moses was a leader with a clear vision from the Lord, and he needed to get the Israelites on board. Leaders should be like a pair of glasses, helping others to have a clear vision of where they are going. Leaders should not only cast vision, but inspire those who are following them and move them toward action.

Challenge the Process
In Daniel 1:8 we see Daniel challenge the process when he requests permission not to eat unacceptable foods given to him by the king. Be willing to ask and be asked questions, even when it causes friction. Just like friction helps gears to turn and create forward motion, challenging the process can help to bring about positive change in your ministry.

Enable Others to Act
In Judges 4:14, Deborah enables Barak to act when she tells him, “Get ready! This is the day the Lord will give you victory over Sisera, for the Lord is marching ahead of you.” Make it practical and possible for someone else to do something. The ripple effect that could create will go far beyond what you could do alone.

Encourage the Heart
1 Samuel 6:7 tells us, “people judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Leaders need to recognize the work of individuals and create a spirit of community within their teams. Don’t forget to encourage your own heart as well – it’s hard to encourage others when your tank is empty!

I love having the opportunity to provide leadership coaching not only to leaders at GT, but to other churches as well. For more information, please visit We lead Better Together!


An Underutilized Asset

Have you ever wondered how the young people in your church can be developed into the Christ-like servant leaders of tomorrow’s church? Look no further than your Royal Rangers outpost. The major purpose of Royal Rangers is to develop boys and young men into Christ-like servant leaders. What better source for finding helpers for Christian Education classes, youth group leaders, worship team members, and more!

Junior Leadership training begins in the local outpost with Leadership Merits and the Leadership Foundation course available through the TracClub Leaders’ track. Boys also receive leadership training by attending district run camps within the Junior Leadership Development Academy (JLDA). These camps run three to four days each, beginning with the Ranger Training Camp (RTC) for Discovery Ranger boys who have completed the 4th grade. This camp teaches a boy about his role within his patrol in the outpost. The Junior Training Camp (JTC), for boys who completed the 6th grade, teach boys their role within their outposts. The JTC is followed by the Advanced Junior Training Camp (AJTC) that teaches boys about their role within their church and community. High school aged boys and their leaders can complete skill-based action camps designed to teach boys specific skills such as canoeing, computers, or basic auto mechanics.

Collectively, these camps teach basic and advanced leadership skills such as interacting with others, event planning, responsibility, and developing integrity using the Bible and its principals as the foundation. When these boys come back from these camps they are ready to be put to work. Try it!  Send your Ranger boys to a JLDA camp and then use them upon their return. They’ll be a great resource for helping in other ministries in your church. Go to for applications and more information.

We Are Always Better Together

Women step through the doors of our churches with a wide array of backgrounds and personal stories. Some often struggle with past experiences, unhealthy relationships, confusion, and heartbreak. Along with that baggage, women also bring with them unique abilities, spiritual gifts, and a call to serve. Ministry within the church is God’s design for providing healing, truth and freedom. Those best qualified to minister to and disciple women
are . . . women.

Women are designed for relationship. We are always better together! The church is the very best place to establish godly, healthy relationships, A Quick Guide to Ministering to Women was developed to aid in that effort. It offers practical, effective training for building and strengthening ministry to women. Several topics covered are:

What are the needs of women?

What is the role of the church in ministering to women?

Am I qualified to lead women?

Where do I start?

What do I do?

How do I do it?

A Quick Guide is designed to come alongside the leader, with easy-to-understand instructions and guidelines. Included are extra downloadable resources, templates, and guides. These practical tools were intentionally designed to help leaders establish a strategic plan and build a strong team.

Our prayer is that A Quick Guide to Ministering to Women will inspire you with new ideas. Use it to train leaders. Use it as a small group study. No matter how you implement this guide, we are confident the information will encourage and expand the connection and mobilization of the women of your church. When you gather women, teach them biblical truth and enable them to journey together in passionate pursuit of a stronger walk with Christ . . . great things are guaranteed to happen!

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