Archive for the ‘On Our Hearts’ Category

Transformational Influence Outside Our Four Walls

Modeling godly character, making good work, ministering grace and love, molding culture, a mouthpiece for truth and justice, and a messenger of the gospel*—six M’s highlighting the significance of each person’s unique contribution to society through vocational and volunteer work.  “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people” (Col 3:23).

Everyone is capable of doing excellent work and making a worthwhile contribution to society.  And, as the Gospel impacts every area of life and its implications are realized, transformation occurs in individual lives, our communities, and the world.  Good work brings health, safety, listening, maintenance, order, provision, and at times, reconciliation and restoration.

One of the most effective ways to contribute to and renew the culture we live in is through our daily contributions vocationally and voluntarily.  God’s people can make the effort to grow together in lives of grace, humility, contrition, love, justice, and hope, admitting our own brokenness and letting others see the gospel at work within us.  Awareness of God’s grace extended to us every day gives us hope and grace toward others. (more…)

Thursday, February 9th, 2017 | No Comments »

Strategically Making Disciples Into the Future

What is your part as a laborer in your corner of the harvest?  What might kingdom fruit look like in your sphere of influence?  We believe these questions are on the hearts of all of us in the district.

In light of this, how do we all think strategically to fulfill the EFCA vision of raising up a million disciple-makers—an undertaking worthy of our best effort together?  Dan Moose, Dave Linde, and I, in consulting with ministry leaders over the years, have found the following five-fold map helpful in giving direction to fruitful, innovative kingdom initiatives in the harvest field.

  1. Think missiologically.  As the culture continues to change rapidly, becoming increasingly dissimilar to our church subculture, we do well to think of our ministry context in the same way missionaries would.  What persons around us are beyond the reach of our current ministry expressions and efforts because of cultural or subcultural differences?  Let’s seek to study, understand, appreciate, and engage a different (sub)culture so that Christ’s glory as Lord of all people—not just of those who are comfortably similar to us—will be displayed. (more…)

Thursday, December 29th, 2016 | No Comments »

Mobilizing for Outreach

Mobilizing for outreach is as essential at home as it is abroad.  In the developing world, outreach might involve agriculture, clean water, education, medical, dental care, or provision of better nutrition to gain access into any community.  The vital element is to meet legitimate needs in a manner to accomplish betterment and development.   Genuine impact gains opportunities to build meaningful relationships and to share the life-transforming power of the gospel in deed and word.

I am so grateful for like-minded individuals from our congregation and others, who choose to gather periodically for prayer, training, and encouragement.  I recently asked this group to express what following Jesus means to them.

-The number one answer was “being available
-Similarly, “my time is not my own
-“Cross-cultural relationships
-“Putting Jesus first
-“He takes me places
-“I’m a learner


Tuesday, November 15th, 2016 | No Comments »

Will Satan Win Because of This?

Last month Dan Moose wrote a post on spiritual warfare.  In connection with that theme, consider afresh these excerpts from a familiar incident in the life of Jesus (Mark 9:17, 17, 28, 29 NIV):

A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not”….

After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”

The tension created by the disciples’ inability to drive out the demon is not resolved until the end of the incident in Jesus’ private instruction to them.  Their question and his answer conclude the incident.  Their words should hang in our hearing as we ponder what happened.  What do we learn from this incident? (more…)

Friday, October 7th, 2016 | 1 Comment »

Spiritual Warfare in Our Future Together

Spiritual warfare is a fact of life for followers of Jesus.  We may differ about how we specifically engage in that warfare, but we all agree that we are in a spiritual battle.  As we look ahead to the future of our district, we must keep this reality in mind and be equipped to engage the battle.  It may well grow worse as time goes on.  We can’t look at life and ministry only on the physical-material level.

We are living in this world but are not of this world.  Our citizenship is in heaven, and our Lord and King is Jesus, who defeated Satan the prince and power of this world at Calvary.  It is normal, then, for the prince of this world to be at odds with us as followers of Jesus, but we do not need to fear the spiritual warfare.  We are the children of God who are joint heirs with Jesus Christ, sealed and filled with the Holy Spirit.  God says we are ‘more than conquerors through Him who loves us’ (Rom. 8:37) and ‘greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world’ (1 Jn. 4:4).  We know that in Jesus Christ we are overcomers and we know the promises and power of our God.  So how do we not let spiritual warfare take away our joy and peace or defeat us? (more…)

Monday, September 12th, 2016 | No Comments »

Disciple-Making Apprenticeship

Too often we read about disciple-making and talk about disciple-making without following through and engaging in the actual process of disciple-making.

I’d like to offer you a resource in developing the skills of someone in your church through a hands-on apprenticeship.

Beginning in October 2016, I will be leading a couple groups of disciple-making apprentices through a training regimen that will equip them to envision and create access ministries, to identify potential “persons of peace” (Luke 10) through those ministries, and to facilitate Discovery Bible Study with believers and not-yet-believers alike, introducing them to Jesus Christ directly through the pages of Scripture.

The apprentice groups will meet every other week, with morning and evening options to accommodate different schedules.  During the group meetings, we will become proficient with the discovery process and engage in reporting prayer.  In between meetings, apprentices will practice regular rhythms of spiritual disciplines (prayer & fasting, time in the Word), and invest in outreach through access ministries utilizing betterment strategies, such as adult literacy, job training and life-skill development initiatives. (more…)

Friday, July 15th, 2016 | No Comments »

Faith Work Economics Movement: Local churches demonstrate their commitment to FWE

Not a trend, but a bigger movement: God stories of ‘early adopters’ of FWE (Faith Works Economics) see the value of this movement and are actively integrating FWE into the DNA of their congregations. This information doesn’t necessarily show, for example, how Bryan Lair incorporated these foundational principles from the beginning with his church plant but its presence is evident. Several churches in the District are beginning to implement FWE and they are leading the charge. The listing below contains some of the ideas and approaches of churches around the district to implementing FWE.

The district office would love to hear of additional ways local churches are implementing FWE in their congregations and community. Contact the North Central District () or Lynne Heidelbauer () with your story.


Friday, June 10th, 2016 | No Comments »

Moving the Church from Survival to Multiplication

As a handyman, I am always looking for good tools that will help me be more productive and better prepared to get the job done right and in a timely manner.   Some people would probably say I have too many tools, but a while ago, as my wife and I were completing a project, she said, “I now see why you have all the tools you do.  It makes the project go so much easier.”  Many times we as leaders and pastors are looking for the ‘silver bullet’ that will solve a specific problem.  The truth of the matter is that there is no such ‘bullet’ or ‘magical’ tool that is the cure-all.  But I found a tool that I believe will be helpful for every church: Becoming a Level Five Multiplying Church  by Todd Wilson and Dave Ferguson.

Becoming a movement of multiplying churches to reach the world for Jesus Christ is the main theme, but the ideas shared for the advancement of our churches are basic and useful for every church.  I would like to focus on just two of the ideas: Biblical disciple-making and Kingdom capacity for multiplication. (more…)

Monday, May 2nd, 2016 | 1 Comment »

The Search for a New Superintendent

posted by Tom Mouw and Dave Linde
in consultation with the executive committee of the district board

In light of the email communique recently sent out to the district about the DS transition, we thought it would be timely to share a few thoughts as the district moves into this new and important season.

We are very grateful for the hard work of the district Task Force.  Their report and recommendations are the fruit of many months of diligent work.  They have laid groundwork that will direct the district into the future.

We are also wholeheartedly supportive of the board’s decision to adopt the Task Force recommendation that a broad search be carried out for a new DS.  Seeking a new leader to help the district advance in new directions, based on further Task Force recommendations, while building on the strengths of our past, will be good for the district. (more…)

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016 | 3 Comments »

Walking With God

Dan 2015How do you relate to God?  We talk about a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  Is our personal walk with God and focus on God shown by our treasuring Him, communion with Him and living by faith in God?   I recently read With by Skye Jethany which challenged me regarding my relationship to God.  I wanted to say I walk with God, but was shown how I easily use my relationship with God to try to manipulate Him to do what I want.  Not pretty nor godly!

In the book, the author discusses four ways that we relate to God in our need and desire to be restored to our right relationship of being with God; life under God, life over God, life from God, and life for God.   Each one finds its roots in Biblical teaching, but as people we tend to push it to an extreme for our benefit.  Here is a short synopsis of each…

Life under God is based out Deuteronomy 28 where God calls us to obey and worship Him only and promises that He will bless us for our obedience.  We can focus on obedience to God instead of loving God with our worship and obedience flowing out of our love for Him.  In fact, it is easy to tell God He must bless us because of our obedience or worship.  Obedience becomes an idol.  The Pharisees in Matthew 23 are an example.

Life over God is relating to God by living out His principles and expecting God’s blessing.  It is focusing on the needed knowledge of divine principles and studying Scripture to discover those principles instead of studying the Bible to know God.  We see this in many seminars that promise if you do these three or five principles you will get your desired results.  Biblical principles become an idol.  Moses in Exodus 17 and Numbers 20 is an example….he followed the principle but did not listen to or love God. (more…)

Monday, February 15th, 2016 | 1 Comment »

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