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I rarely (obviously) post things here, and it is always a copy of content from my primary blog at http://mrclm.com

I have also recently created http://WasecaVBS.org for the best Vacation Bible School in Waseca, MN – at First Congregational Church in Waseca, MN.

And my sermon video and audio is posted on our church web site at http://WasecaChurch.org.

If that isn’t enough content for you, I guess I can’t keep up with your needs.

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Today I presented before a vicinage council made of of pastors from regional NACCC churches, as well as moderators from those churches, Pastor John Carson from the NACCC national office, and Pastor Brad Wickersheim from Christian Assembly Church in Waseca. I presented my statement of faith and life story, and then took and responded to questions related to my presentation. After a period of deliberation, they voted unanimously to approve me for ordination. The question and answering period was both exciting as well as stressful, but all-in-all I really enjoyed it.

So that means tomorrow I will be ordained! at 3:00PM at First Congregational Church I will be officially ordained! Family and friend and most of my church will be in attendance. I’m exicited, but a bit worried that it is going to get hot tomorrow. They are predicting 85 degrees, and my sanctuary is NOT air conditioned. So pray for 70, low humidity, and overcast.

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(From FotF’s Pastor’s Weekly Briefing)

New Ellison Research asked 1,007 American adults to report on their attendance at worship services. Results of the study showed that the traditional definitions of “churched” — people who attend services monthly or more often — and “un-churched” — people who do not typically attend frequently enough to be considered “churched” — often doesn’t tell a complete story about how often people actually attend religious worship services. If adults in America are placed in more realistic categories based on their normal behavior, attendance stats at religious services would look like this:

* Attend more than once a week (11%)
* Attend once a week (22%)
* Attend two to three times a month (14%)
* Attend once a month (5%)
* Attend occasionally, not on a regular basis (9%)
* Attend only on religious holidays (10%)
* Do not attend at all (29%)

The study also showed that if an adult attended worship services regularly at some point before the age of 18, there is a 55 percent chance that person is currently attending once a month or more. If the person never attended prior to age 18, there is only a 21 percent chance that individual is currently attending worship services on a regular basis.

When someone grows up in a home where both a mother and father occasionally attend religious services, there is a 62 percent chance that individual is now regularly attending services as an adult. If only one parent attends services occasionally, there is a 50 percent chance that grown adult is now regularly attending worship. But when an individual grows up with neither parent regularly attending worship services, the chances that person is now regularly attending is only at 33 percent.

Ron Sellers, president of Ellison Research, noted, “There’s often an assumption that people either do attend worship services or they don’t. But what we find in this study is that up to one out of every five Americans is attending worship services at least occasionally during the year, even though they are not regularly involved. That has huge implications for local congregations who are trying to attract new people.” Sellers said, “We estimate that up to 43 million adults who do not regularly attend worship services will visit a church or place of worship at some point during the year.” [Ellison Research]


I have a Masters of Divinity with a concentration on Transformational Leadership. What that means is that I spent extra time in Seminary studying great leaders, studying leadership theory, studying all thing leadership. Vision is something that regularly comes up when discussing leadership. Leaders must possess vision, and leaders must cast vision. Andy Stanley deserves a lot of credit for influencing my thinking on vision.

One thing that I am learning as a Senior Pastor is that I do a lot of vision casting. A LOT. I am learning that I really enjoy this, and that planting seeds, getting the buy-in from key people, and building a consensus is more enjoyable than I had anticipated. It has been one of those nice surprises of full time ministry. I have had opportunities to do this previously, but never to this degree, and never with this sort of influence and responsibility, which is at times a bit scary. Scary because you don’t want to lead people down the wrong path, or waste time or resources that are precious in a small church. The margin of error is pretty slim, but thankfully I have a gracious group of people in my church for when I will undoubtedly screw up. And thankfully I have a God who can see His work completed in spite of me.


Dr. John Piper has written an article celebrating the birthday of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) and his young church Bethlehem Baptist. And yes, I can call his church young because mine was founded 3 years before his was!

Dr. Piper writes:

On June 22, Bethlehem Baptist Church turns 137, and the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society turns 50. This is a cause for thanksgiving and an occasion for Bethlehem as a church to renew with joy our vision for faithful ministry under the authority of God’s inerrant word.

One reason we should be thankful that God has preserved and grown the Evangelical Theological Society (to over 4,000 members) is that its defining doctrinal commitment is the inerrancy of Scripture: “The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of God written and is therefore inerrant in the autographs.”

And later in that same article he writes:

A fourth reason for thanksgiving is that for 137 years Bethlehem Baptist Church has been built on the foundation of Jesus Christ revealed infallibly through the inerrant Scriptures. Today the Elder Affirmation of Faith has four paragraphs on the Scriptures. The first two are:

1.1 We believe that the Bible, consisting of the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments, is the infallible Word of God, verbally inspired by God, and without error in the original manuscripts.

1.2 We believe that God’s intentions, revealed in the Bible, are the supreme and final authority in testing all claims about what is true and what is right. In matters not addressed by the Bible, what is true and right is assessed by criteria consistent with the teachings of Scripture.

Give thanks with me, as Bethlehem turns 137 years old on June 22, that God has preserved among us the conviction of Jesus: “Scripture cannot be broken” ( John 10:35 ).

And it is for a good reason!

Last week Thursday I was interviewed by the local newspaper – The Waseca County News. Today that article is available online, and I assume it is in the print version as well (note to self: Buy newspaper). I was interview by Drew Amo, and enjoyed his company. Mr. Amo did a nice job summarizing our conversation, and the only thing I would add to his article is that there was a lengthy period between my coming to faith in college (early 1994) and my enrolling in Seminary (January 2003). The article makes it sound like they happened back to back. Not a big deal, he’s working with copy space constraints that I as a blogger give little consideration to!

Drew caught me shortly after returning to church from a muddy morning of playing soccer with the kids at Vacation Bible School. I was still literally covered in mud and probably some sweat, and as a good journalist he plowed through the interview anyhow to get the story. Very nice guy, and I hope to meet him again and get to know him better in the years to come!

To view the article CLICK HERE!

Crossroads Church of Cottage Grove, MN (and soon to be moving to Woodbury, MN! – photos of the new building) is becoming a multi-site church this September. Bridgepointe Covenant Church of Eagan, MN has agreed to turn over operations to Crossroads and to become a satellite campus of Crossroads Church. To complicate life, Crossroads is set to open a new facility in Woodbury, MN in December of 2008 as well! So a lot going on for Pastor Phil Print and crew. Starting as soon as August there will be teaching at Bridgepoint Church provided by Crossroads Church. The bulk of the teaching responsibilities will fall on my friend James Brown (yes, the REAL James Brown), with Phil Print and Brad Kindall also teach from time to time. The official launch of Crossroads Church – Eagan will be the weekend of September 28th. The plan is to launch with 2 worship services, and the idea is to have AT LEAST 300 people for the launch. So if you or your friends in the South Metro of Minneapolis/St. Paul are looking for a rock solid Evangelical church where Christ is glorified and worship ROCKS then give Crossroads a try!

To keep up with the progress of the Eagan campus of Crossroads click here and check back regularly. To keep up with Crossroads as a whole you can view Pastor Phil’s Cyberupdate as well.

We had a great weekend (other than the fact it was mostly 40 degrees BELOW the freezing point most of the time)! My sermon went well, the people we met were very gracious and hospitable, and the town was livable.

I told the search committee that the thing I liked most about the situation is that there is potential. I really like that. They seem to be healthy, they are in a good place financially, they have a serviceable facility that is well kept.

And they liked us. I’m not surprised by that, but it is very nice to know. I think we would fit in pretty well, and I think they could learn from me and I could learn from them. The church has a good community/family atmosphere that I would love to build on.

A bit about the church – The church is 140 years old this year. This is actually the 2nd building because the first one burned down in the 50’s (making this building over 50 years old). The church is as old as the town. It is just a couple of blocks from the main North-South street, and a block from the main East-West street, and is across the street from a school, so it has very good access for anyone in town.

So we are excited, and just a slight big awed, and a bit scared as well. This would be a big step in our lives, meaning major changes. We’ve wanted these changes, been training for this time, been looking forward to this time, but now that it is here it still seems to catch us a bit off guard. I suppose that is probably a good thing. Thank you all who were praying for me, it is deeply appreciated. I don’t know that things could have gone much better all weekend other than perhaps a few more hours of sleep for us Saturday night. Praise God!

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I received some good news in my inbox today.

At the Wednesday night meeting of the Woodbury Planning Commission, our relocation project (the applications we’ve made to build and develop the land) got unanimously approved! Yea, God! Now, it all goes to next Wednesday night’s meeting of the Woodbury City Council for final approval.

Are we expecting more good news? Absolutely. The Woodbury City Planners are on board and the City Council pretty much approves whatever they recommend. Following next week’s meeting we will apply for a building permit and be off and running. We still hope to break ground in a month or so.

Continue to pray for the process. Pray for God’s favor next Wednesday and also for favor as we negotiate what’s called a ‘developer agreement’ (a fee we’ll have to pay to develop and build). This fee could cripple us or just wound us depending on how gracious the City Planners are. Pray for good negotiations (we’re a non-profit church not a developer who will be making lots of money on the property).

This is great news. Things have been stalled for far too long on this project due to some indecisiveness on the part of the Woodbury, MN city council. It has kept our church’s direction hanging in the balance. We didn’t want to abandon our goal of building this year, but we also didn’t want to waste time pursuing that goal if we were going to have to wait 2 years to build.

Our church is simply bursting at the seams, which is a good thing. But if you’ve studied church growth at all you know that a “full” church is not welcoming to visitors. While we have grown as a church, I believe it has been at a stunted rate because we do not have open seats at optimum hours.

So this is exciting and very good news!

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Dave Ferguson’s team at Community Christian Church in the Chicago area came up with the coffee cup insulators below as a way to reach out into their community and get their name out. This is a great idea!
While I realize the majority of people who come to your church for the first time are ones who are coming because of a personal invitation, this is still a cost effective way of putting your name out into the community. Who says no to free coffee? (well, technically I say no to free coffee, but that’s not the point) Especially if you are using high quality coffee ala Caribou, Dunn Bros., or Starbucks.

The reason this captured my thinking so much is that our church – CrossRoads Church of Cottage Grove, MN – is nearing the point where we will be starting the work for a new church building. This locations is far enough from the existing site that many people won’t have a name recognition of the church. I can imagine spending an afternoon outside of Wal-Mart or any of the other local businesses in the area handing out free high quality coffee with one of these insulators wrapped around it as a great way to spread the word. What do you think?

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Evangelical stalwart Dr. D. James Kennedy was very influential on me in the years leading up to my decision to go to seminary. This must be the year for the old guys to all be retiring I guess.

DR. D. JAMES KENNEDY RETIRES:
Founder and Senior Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church
Steps Down from Pulpit with Rich Legacy of Faith

Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (CRPC) in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., today announced the retirement of Dr. D. James Kennedy, senior pastor, assuring the congregation and international broadcast audience that the church and related ministries will continue moving forward in the direction set by this visionary leader after founding the church more than 48 years ago in 1959.

“We thank the Lord for His faithfulness to my father over nearly one-half century, through the impact this church has made in the lives of people in this congregation and community and the influence he has had on countless individuals around the world through radio and television,” said daughter Jennifer Kennedy Cassidy.

“From the beginning, this has been the Lord’s ministry, and we are confident He will raise up other godly men equally committed to proclaiming biblical truth and applying the transforming message of the Gospel in our lives, our families and our culture,” Mrs. Cassidy continued. “The long-range planning committee and denominational session have been developing next steps and working to ensure the church continues to grow and thrive.”

Dr. Kennedy, 76, preached his last sermon from the pulpit of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church on Christmas Eve 2006. He suffered a cardiac arrest four days later and has since been unable to return to the pulpit. A tribute worship service honoring the extensive ministry of Dr. Kennedy will be held in the main sanctuary of the church at 11:00 a.m. EDT on Sunday, Sept. 23.

Dr. Kennedy started the church and began his pastorate on June 21, 1959, and had from the outset a vision for global impact for Christ. An author of more than 65 books, moral leader and widely quoted champion for righteousness in American life, he is one of the founding board members of the Alliance Defense Fund. In 1995, he opened the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Christian Statesmanship to offer spiritual counsel to members of Congress and their staffs.

Dr. James C. Dobson, founder and chairman of Focus on the Family, called Dr. Kennedy one of the Church’s “truly significant figures.” In a statement to Dr. Kennedy, Dobson said, “For decades now, you have stood strong in defense of faith, family, and most importantly, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Believers around the world are indebted to you for your vision and leadership.”

For the full article see the News Release.

(HT: Justin Taylor)

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Below is a message from my dear friend Sammy Wanyonyi.  Sammy and I went to Bethel Seminary together the past 4+ years.  Sammy is the man who took over from me as the President of Bethel Seminary’s Student Senate.  I’ve told Sammy this before, but I would pay money to hear this man pray.  This is a man of God, impacting the world in ways most of us can just dream of.  If nothing else, add Sammy and his team to your prayer list!

Sammy Wanyonyi Int’l Ministries (SWIM), 10410 Normandale Blvd, Bloomington, MN, 55437; Tel: 612-220-7999; Website: www.swimmin.org.
 
Dear Ministry Friend,
 
In a week’s time, our ministry team heads to the countries of Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Malawi and Kenya for evangelistic outreach and leadership conferences.  The Gospel of Christ is our core motivation for these efforts to bring the message of hope to the world.   By God’s grace, we anticipate to minister directly to nearly 150,000 people through the Arise And Shine DR Congo, Festival of Hope in Bukavu, DRC, the ministry to prisoners in Rwanda, and through the Great Lakes Region Conference on Leadership and Governance in Kigali, Rwanda.  We will also be conducting a Pastor’s conference in Malawi and ministry to congregations in Kenya. 
 
At the Arise And Shine DRC Festival of Hope in Bukavu, SWIM is working with over 400 churches around the city and in the South Kivu Province to bring the message of hope, forgiveness, peace, and reconciliation through Christ. After eight years of devastating war, a new era is emerging as the churches encourage reconciliation and reconstruction. 
 
The Leadership and Governance Conference in Kigali is of particular significance, bringing together political, religious and business leaders from eight African nations in the region to interact with the message of Christ.  Whereas we will explore different models of leadership and business effectiveness pertinent to the region, the Conference’s central motif is that the Gospel is incomplete if it does not affect and influence how people live, relate, and govern.  It is not enough to confront personal sin.  As the Church of Jesus Christ, we must work together with and alongside governmental and business leaders to establish peace, explore ethical approaches to business, and advocate for equity and moral integrity in day to day activities. 
 
Following last year’s conference, Rwanda’s Minister for Local Government and Good Governance Hon. Protais Musoni while applauding the conference remarked on the necessity of such collaboration:  “There is nothing of greater value in our society today than forging unity between the Church and the State if we are to correct past mistakes, develop competent societies, and achieve sustainable development.”  We thank God that this year, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda is able to be present with us to officially open the conference.  Besides me, our SWIM team of speakers for this year include President of Cargill’s ArgHorizons a multi national corporation based in Minnesota Daniel Dye, Minneapolis/St. Paul Int’l Airport Director Steve Wareham, and Senior Pastor of Life Church, Maple Groves, MN and former advisor to the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, Rev. Ron Roberts.  Presenters from the region include Rwanda’s First Lady Janet Kagame and Burundi’s First Lady Denise Ngurunziza among others.  Visit my blog for detailed profiles of our team members and to follow our mission.  
 
         

Our ministry team traveling to the Africa Great Lakes Region for the Leadership And Governance Conference and Arise And Shine DR Congo, Festival of Hope.  From left front row:  Dan Dye, North American President of Cargill ArgHorizon and MBA professor at Bethel Univeristy, Sammy Wanyonyi, Evangelist and President of SWIM, Ebony Hatch, Master of Divinity Student at Bethel University, Mike Galbraith, Undergraduate Student, Business Major at Bethel University.  Back row from left: Steve Wareham, Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport Director, Rev. Ron Roberts, Senior Pastor of Life Church, Maple Groves, Robert Stadler, Senior Principal Scientist for Medtronic, and Randy Galbraith, Businessman from Marshall, MN.  Not included in picture is Grace Fragoso, Missionary from Brazil with Orphanos Foundation, Cordova, TN.    

The leadership conference in Kigali, Rwanda will minister to political, religious, and business leaders from eight countries in the Africa Great Lakes region.  Hon. Solange, a Rwandan member of parliament and deputy minister was among those who participated in last years’ conference.  “I am thankful that God has raised SWIM to minister to us.  As I work with women and other leaders in our community, my vision is to equip the next generation to foster change that enables peace and stability.”

1000 pastors in the Africa Great Lakes region will be equipped and encouraged through the pastors and evangelists conference in Bukavu, DRC and in Malawi.

Arise and Shine DR Congo Festival of Hope in Bukavu, DRC will directly minister to 100,000 people while many others will hear the message of hope through radio, television and local newspapers. 

During our time in Rwanda, our team will hold an evangelistic service and share the message of hope, forgiveness and reconciliation with 12000 prisoners at a prison facility near Kigali. 

More than 400 churches in Bukavu and the surrounding communities, DRC are working with SWIM and praying for healing and restoration following eight years of devastating war and conflict.  Will you join with us and with these churches to pray that thousands of people come to faith in Jesus Christ through the Festival of Hope?   

I invite you to partner with us during this season of ministry in the Africa Great Lakes Region.  We are already experiencing great breakthroughs as our team prepares.  However, we request you to commit to pray daily with us. You can follow the happenings through the SWIM Website and get current updates from my blog.   In the next few days preceding the Conference and Festival of Hope, I am posting profiles and leadership insights from our ministry team on my blog.  I encourage you to visit, read and leave us comments.   
 
Thank you for your continued partnership as we make Jesus Christ famous and reach out to the world together.  For your inspiration, listen to this message I shared with Westwood Community Church Congregation this Sunday: How Then Do We Live In the Anxious Middle?
 
Sammy Wanyonyi
SWIM President And Evangelist

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