Travel Day – Ohio to Saskatchewan

Last night was a blast. I was at Overcomers’ Christian Church in the city of Mt. Vernon and after worship I taught on prophecy and then had Pastor Jamie Overholt join with me in prophesying over everyone who was there less several who had already received a word through my ministry the previous Sunday. I estimate we prophesied over 25 to 30 people… it was a 4.5 hour service. Great night.

Today I am packed and ready to go to Columbus and the international airport. I need to check in at 2:00p for a 4:30 flight to Toronto and then customs and another flight into Regina. However, instead of having some time to myself (my host is now away on holidays) I will spend the day with Pastor Jamie from Overcomers’ Christian Church. I will be meeting with him and his wife Ruth and then he will drive me into Columbus, we will have lunch together, and then the airport. I am mentoring him and this is another good opportunity to spend time with him and come to know him better. So much for reading a good book.

Please pray for safe travel – car and planes… and for my time with Pastor Jamie.

I want to thank everyone for their prayers. It has been my best trip to this area ever. I come to Ohio twice a year and this has been the most powerful time I have had here. God has been good. Thanks for being a part of this ministry.

Sunday In Ohio – Last Full Day

It has been a great day – early morning writing and working on some projects. The morning was bright and crisp and somewhat cool. Really nice. It was quiet and so I had some time to think between 6:00a and 7:30a. Then we hit the floor running…

Service in Butler – we arrived at 8:00a and did what was needed to move into God’s presence at 10:00a. The presence of God was tangible – it almost always is here at The River of Life, Butler, Ohio. Preaching was great – the people are really hungry for solid food and come with their hearts open and ready to receive. It was a powerful morning and God was honoured and glorified. The local church holds an annual picnic. As they are still clearing the new parcel of land that they have purchased next to their current parking lot – they held the picnic at a local home where there was several acres of land to hold everyone and a massive tent that had been erected Saturday for today’s time of fellowship. Great time.

Then a rush back to where I was staying to change for the evening service in the city of Mt. Vernon at Overcomers’ Christian Church. This is a church I was introduced to last Sunday and have worked with all week. I have met with the leaders, the pastor and his wife (several times), the new assistant pastor and then him and his wife (he will soon be taking over the reigns as senior leader of the church), the pastor’s family of 7 grown children who will be leading the transition of this local church as it moves into its future. They have asked me to be involved as an apostle and to help them make this major transition. Monday instead of the morning off before heading to the airport I will spend the morning with Jamie and Ruth who are on part-time staff and will be moving into senior leadership as the transition takes place. I am now one of Jamie’s mentors and have taken the opportunity several times this week to spend time with him and with his family to come to know him. I am excited for this opportunity to guide a local church through a major transition and into it’s future.

Please pray about all the work that The Lord has and is opening up for me to do here in Ohio. I want to do only God’s will – nothing more and nothing less. Thanks for being a vital part of this ministry.

Saturday Was a Blur

Saturday was a blur. It is early Sunday morning – real early – and it is quiet and peaceful where I am sitting drinking a good cup of hot coffee. I am ready to leave at 8:00a to begin another full (and long) day. Service in Butler, Ohio at The River of Life, church picnic, and then travel to Mt. Vernon for a service at Overcomers’ Christian Church. Your prayers are appreciated.

Yesterday I was up very early and had breakfast with the youth worker here in Butler. As a result of my conversation and the moving of the Holy Spirit he decided to accept the ministry being offered to him to come on half time as a staff member. He had been offered the position some time ago and was undecided and indecisive. God moved while we chatted at a coffee place on Main Street Butler and the young man moved forward quickly. By 11:00a he had handed in his notice where he worked as a mechanic and phoned the pastor to let him know he would be starting in the position at the church September 1st. It will be announced today at the morning service. God is good.

Then over to the city of Mansfield where we met with a young man living in the city of Columbus who will be starting a weekly Christian Cafe out of the second floor of the building where The River meets. This will be for those seeking to know more of The Lord and aimed at 18 to 28 year olds. He presented his ministry plan over a Starbucks’ coffee and we are good to go with much work to be accomplished before the start date in the fall.

Then a visit with some people from Celina (2.5 hour drive from Butler) who had come over to be with us this weekend and will be at the service Sunday. George and Linda are great people. This was followed by an appointment with the church secretary to work some things through and to minister prophetically with her. Then a drive to one of the elders over in Mt. Vernon and a BBQ and meeting. One back where I am staying a time with the pastor’s wife to sort some things through.

A normal day… I have no trouble sleeping.

12 Culture Trends You Can’t Afford to Ignore

Guest blogger – Carey Nieuwhof

Leaders who are willing to reconsider the methods to preserve the mission are usually the ones who succeed long term.

When you lead an organization—especially when you are responsible for leading an organization like the local church—there is a temptation to ignore trends or minimize the impact they will have on how you operate.

It’s so difficult to gain and keep momentum, that when you have some momentum it becomes tempting to ignore the changes around you because they might force you to rethink your method.

But the truth is that your method (your strategy, your approach, your plan) is not sacred; the mission is sacred.

Andy Molinski calls it global dexterity: The ability to adapt behaviors across cultures without losing who you are in the process.

Leaders who are willing to reconsider the methods to preserve the mission are usually the ones who succeed long term.

While there are dozens of trends that are impacting the church, the trends outlined below are what I would call ‘organizational sleepers.’

We all see them.

Our lives are impacted by them every day.

But many leaders are not talking about their impact.

One of the reasons we’re not talking about these issues might be that few of these trends have implications for the church that are clear cut or obvious.

Most of the thinking around these trends lead to wet cement conversations—thoughts that are open to reshaping, rethinking and reconsidering. Not every leader is comfortable with that kind of conversation.

So I offer them as things we need to be thinking about, talking about and praying through.

While there may be no clear answers, there should at least be conversation among leaders, boards and the thought leaders of any organization.

Here are the 12 trends in no particular order:

1. Online as the new default.

You used to have to go to church to hear a message or music, or get the cassette or cd. Now you just need a phone. Every attender can (and often will) listen to any communicator, band or concert they want. And almost everyone who shows up at your door has checked out your church online before they came. What are you doing to embrace the online world beyond a barely-supported and moderately outdated website, podcast or Facebook page?

2. Wifi and smartphones.

They are googling you while you’re speaking, and checking out other options while you’re listing yours. Do you assume your audience is intelligent, literate and has options?

3. Dialogue.

People want to talk, not just listen. While sitting around tables every Sunday may not be the answer, increasingly a church without conversation is a church without converts. What scalable, meaningful venues do you have for people to go to online and inhouse for real conversation?

4. Loyalty.

Brand loyalty is low. Four of the top five global companies didn’t exist 40 years ago. Being around for a long time can be seen as a liability with the next generation. (Rich Birch has a great info-graphic on this.) How are you showing the relevance of an ancient faith to the current generation?

5. Lack of guilt.

Guilt used to motivate people to change and even to come to faith. The next generation feels less guilt than almost any previous generation. Are you still using guilt to motivate people? (By the way, Jesus never used guilt to motivate outsiders.)

6. Declining trust in authority.

People will still trust authority when the authority has earned their confidence. But they start out with suspicion. More than ever, trust is earned slowly and lost instantly. How is the way you exercise authority worthy of people’s confidence?

7. Declining trust in institutions.

You have to show people how an organization can help them, because by default, they don’t think it/you can or will. How are you demonstrating trustworthiness?

8. Personalized, eclectic spirituality.

People want to find their own unique path, and most start out that way. They will embrace the path of Christ, but they don’t start out there. How do you embrace where they start, but encourage them not to finish there?

9. A desire for greater purpose.

Millennials will not stay long at work or causes that have little greater meaning or purpose. Is your mission and vision clear, compelling and inexhaustible?

10. Personal mission.

People aren’t waiting for someone to change the world, they’ll just do it. From charity runs to starting nonprofits from home, the next generation not only believes they can have a global impact, many are having it. If your church doesn’t have a burning sense of purpose and vision, you look lame compared to the average 22-year-old. How is your vision motivating people who have vision?

11. Trust in user reviews.

What you say about your organization matters less than what others say. People place far more trust in user reviews than advertising copy. What are others saying about your organization and how would people find that out?

12. The death of cash and checks.

When was the last time you wrote a check or paid $500 cash for something? No one does that anymore. But every Sunday, most church leaders expect most of their offering to come in via cash or check. Is most of your giving happening online? Why not?

Obviously, there are many more trends that are impacting the church or will be shortly. What do you see?

What are you doing about any of these mentioned above?

Carey Nieuwhof is the lead pastor of Connexus Community Church, a growing multicampus church north of Toronto and strategic partner of North Point Community Church. Before starting Connexus in 2007, Nieuwhof served 12 years in a mainline church, transitioning three small congregations into a single, rapidly growing congregation. He speaks to North American and global church leaders about change, leadership and parenting. He and his wife, Toni, live near Barrie, Ontario, and have two sons, Jordan and Sam. Learn more »

Summer Time and the Living Is Easy

It is summer and thoughts turn to slowing down, spending more time away from work and just relaxing, and enjoying the benefits of the weather as well as the hard work we have been involved in over the fall, winter, and spring. It is summer time, after all, and the living is suppose to be easier if not easy.

Summer time is also a good time to review life – life in general and your spiritual life. This might make the summer time a little less easy. But, it would make good use of the slower pace of summer and the great weather. And, if you make the effort and use some of the good summer weather to take a few slow, meditative walks or drink that extra latte slowly as you sit staring at a summer camp fire in the yard… you will benefit greatly in the long run and into the new season that will soon be upon us. You will benefit greatly if…

1> You are really honest with yourself
2> You look deep enough into your heart – your motives, your attitude, your goals and dreams – being honest and real with yourself
3> You listen for the voice of God as you review your life and look inside
4> You record what you find and what the Lord speaks
5> You boil all this down to some action steps that you need to take, some goals that have measurable results and a time frame
6> You make some decisions and then carry them out

Plato the Greek philosopher once said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” And the summer time is a good time to examine life – not just what is on the surface (budgets, friendships, activities, timetables) but what is on the inside way down deep. You know, the real you! Have a look, make some changes. You will be glad that you did.

Friday – It Was To Be a Quiet Day

The original plan for today was to attend a men’s meeting at the local church here in Butler, Ohio. Not to minister – just to listen and then later share my impressions with the pastor. Here’s the “now” schedule… reports and social media from 7:00 to 9:00; meeting with Pastor Jamie and his wife Ruth (Overcomers’ Christian Church, Mt. Vernon, Ohio) from 9:00a to 1:00p; talking with my mentor from 3:00 to 5:00p; working with Pastor Joe and his wife (Overcomers’ Church) in their home as I meet leaders and minister to them 5:00 to 11:00p This is how it goes. You come with a planned schedule and it always – I repeat, always – changes.

It will be a busy but good day. And, it will be better if you pray and ask God to guide and direct in detail all the activities – planned and unplanned – that I will be involved in. I want this day to count. There are three things you can do with your time – waste it, spend it, and invest it. I want today to be an “invest” day.

Please pray for Saturday as well – early breakfast with a youth pastor, a mid-morning Starbucks with my mentor and another minister who runs a very effective outreach through a coffee bar and cafe; and then, in the evening a meeting with the elders and their wives (social and business). Of course, this too is subject to change and additions.

The picture: Some of the pastors present at a monthly pastors meeting in the city of Columbus, Ohio I had the honour of participating in on Wednesday

God Is Raising Up Apostles

Everywhere I go I see young men that God is raising up as future apostles. He is calling them out, speaking to them often for the first time about their calling, and setting them on a life-long journey to becoming Master Builders and powerful men of God in the Kingdom and in the Church that Jesus is building. On the ministry trip I am currently on – the very first full day I was here I spotted one. His name is Jamie and today I am having lunch with him.

I now know from experience of many years ministering that on every trip there will be at least one person God will point out who is apostolic and who is being called to be an apostle. It is as regular as clockwork. However, it is always a great surprise (maybe because of whom He chooses) and a cause for rejoicing. It is never routine nor boring. I am always excited when I find that person I now know God has brought me to the place to encourage and call out.

It is obvious that God is changing the landscape in His Kingdom. He is raising up apostles so that there will be anointed and powerful leaders who will lead to way in the world-wide expansion of the Kingdom and the planting of the Gospel in every nation. They will not be well known or become famous. They will be simple servants of the living God who are answering the call of God on their lives to be Master Builders and lead the way in the expansion of the Kingdom. They are also called to “equip the saints” and so we will see many training schools being formed and birthed as part of the vision of these young people as they grow into their calling and begin to walk it out full-time.

I am excited that I can play a part in this move of the Holy Spirit. Even if it is a small part – spotting and calling out these young people. And, it is a great joy to be one of many who will mentor them and walk with them as they enter into their training time and then are released to take those first faltering steps into apostolic ministry. Each of these men will need many people praying for them and a number of others who will stand on either side of them to encourage, support, train, mentor, and walk with them.

Regretfully many are called but few choose to follow. I see, on average, one in three who take the prophetic call of God to be an apostle seriously when they first hear it. Some begin well but don’t continue because the road is not always easy and requires a great deal of time building relationally and learning the way they are to go from an older apostle. Many simply don’t put the effort into building relationally and growing in their understanding of their calling. But the few who do are going to be used powerfully by the Lord.

Picture: Jamie Overholt – a young man called to be an apostle whom I called out on Sunday morning in Ohio…and am meeting with several times this week. We will be ministering together this coming weekend.

Thursday – the Days Are Going Quickly

It is already Thursday here in Ohio and there are only a few days left in this apostolic trip into this great area of the United States. Yesterday was great – thank you for your prayers. They are much appreciated.

Today is a busy day as all of them have been. Today I will “counsel” six people prophetically. Then attend a lunch for a ladies group that will be meeting during the morning. This is followed by a supper and meeting of the deacons and their wives here at The River of Life Church. That means there will be a gap of a few hours in the afternoon. But, as I have learned over many years… the gap will be filled by the time it pops up on the clock. Of course, I will need a little time to prepare for the evening meeting as I am ministering God’s Word when we meet to eat and fellowship.

Friday could also use some prayer… it is a slower day as I am only scheduled in the evening. I was to attend the men’s meeting at The River Church in Butler simply to fellowship (someone else is teaching). However, I am now scheduled for a home meeting connected to Overcomers’ Christian Church in the city of Mt. Vernon where I ministered last Sunday morning and afternoon. I will also be ministering in this church on Sunday night (another addition to he schedule). So, these events could use your prayers as well.

The week is moving fast and Monday will soon be here and I will be heading home mid-afternoon after some time with a young man here in the area whom I have agreed to mentor.

Picture: Prayer to start the meal at the young leaders meeting on Wednesday night…

Pastor Jeremiah Steepek

Pastor Jeremiah Steepek (pictured to the left) transformed himself into a homeless person and went to the 10,000 member church that he was to be introduced as the head pastor at that morning. He walked around his soon to be church for 30 minutes while it was filling with people for service, only 3 people out of the 7-10,000 people said hello to him. He asked people for change to buy food – NO ONE in the church gave him change. He went into the sanctuary to sit down in the front of the church and was asked by the ushers if he would please sit n the back. He greeted people to be greeted back with stares and dirty looks, with people looking down on him and judging him.

As he sat in the back of the church, he listened to the church announcements and such. When all that was done, the elders went up and were excited to introduce the new pastor of the church to the congregation. “We would like to introduce to you Pastor Jeremiah Steepek.” The congregation looked around clapping with joy and anticipation. The homeless man sitting in the back stood up and started walking down the aisle. The clapping stopped with ALL eyes on him. He walked up the altar and took the microphone from the elders (who were in on this) and paused for a moment then he recited,

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

‘The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

After he recited this, he looked towards the congregation and told them all what he had experienced that morning. Many began to cry and many heads were bowed in shame. He then said, “Today I see a gathering of people, not a church of Jesus Christ. The world has enough people, but not enough disciples. When will YOU decide to become disciples?”

He then dismissed service until next week.

Being a Christian is more than something you claim. It’s something you live by and share with others.

On My Way to Columbus, Ohio

It is early Wednesday morning – the three day rain has stopped and there is no fog this morning. I am sitting quietly by myself having a strong cup of coffee. As the trip wears on I wear down a bit due to the pace (hours actively ministering) and the fact that I am with people the whole time – so no personal time or space. A bit wearying for an introvert. However, God is good and He does refresh.

Today I am heading into Columbus to meet a group of pastors. They meet regularly and this is a meeting to continue planning an event for pastors in the area. I am pleased to be “along for the ride” and to have to opportunity to meet some wonderful men of God and hear what The Lord is doing in them and through them in their churches. Then a lunch with my mentor and host before returning to the Butler area. Tonight I am at their young men’s discipleship group. I speak at this group every time I am here at The River Church in Butler, Ohio. Great group of young men and young couples. Always an honour to be there with them and see how they are growing and maturing in The Lord.

Already the rest of my time here is full … and every day a number of people or leaders are asking if there is time to meet with them. I think at this time it is full house, game over. No room in the inn. I have one young man (and his wife) I am still working at scheduling (Jamie and Ruth) and hopefully I can meet with them on Monday before heading to the airport. I am believing that God can make a way where there seems to be no way. After all, He did part the Red Sea.

Your prayers for today and the remaining five days of jam-packed ministry here in Ohio would be greatly appreciated. God is truly ministering and touching many lives.

Picture: My host and mentor – relaxing after a great supper at the home of some great people who moved a long way to be a part of this great church.