Saturday, July 26, 2008

End of Week at Fair Haven Camp

Thanks for your prayers as I spoke each night at Fair Haven Camp's teen week. Through-out the course of the week we saw at least 16 first-time decisions to trust in Jesus, double that number of students stepping out to renew their relationship and to walk with Jesus daily, and an overwhelming number of students saying that they would go home and seek to live more boldly for Christ by trying to be a witness in their "mission fields" of sports groups, bands, choruses, in their neighborhoods, with their peers. Some are planning to start Bible Studies on their campuses, and others want to go home and help their youth groups become more evangelism and disciple-making focused.

I also had a great time working with a great brother and a fantastic musician, Brian Neal ( . If you want to have an edgy concert or need a worship leader for an event, then I highly recommend Brian Neal.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Preaching and Retreat

I have returned to Maine (where my family is) to conduct my annual planning retreat. I will work through my KRA's, and I suspect that A#1 on my list will be fund-raising. Not only for me to continue in this wonderful role, but also to resource our planters. I am learning from other groups like the Kingdom Synergy Group from Ohio and Stadia how much they are doing for their planters, and we have so very far to go. Pray for my time of reflecting and praying and re-visiting my Key Result Area's for this next year.

During the evenings, I am preaching for teen week at Fair Haven. With 16 years of youth ministry under my belt, I have alot to draw from, so it isn't requiring a lot of prep work. But it does require the energy to preach with passion and conviction. I have chosen a "Battle" motif for the week. Last night was - "The Battle" looking at the cosmic battle between Jesus and Satan, and of course, we know who the Champion is (yes, I used the old Carman song and a pretty good video to go along with it). Tonight, "The Battle for the Mind". Wednesday. "The Battle for Image", Thursday I move toward mission with "The Battle for Every Generation", and Friday night I conclude with "Enlistment".

I am working with an outstanding artist - Brian Neil - who has worked with a bunch of other artists as a part of their band, noteable and worshipfully, Todd Agnew. So far, I would have to say that I highly commend to you for leading worship or for a concert. Pray for a good week for us both as we minister each night to about 150 people.

Aging Parents

I just spent a few days with my dad (and mom) at the Pioneer Steam and Gas Engine Society's big summer tractor show (a show that I pretty strongly suspect will be his last due to his failing health). Having been a life-long farmer, he sure enjoys going to see all the antique equipment and a lot of his friends, plus eat good ice-cream, see tractor-pulls and more. I am glad that I worked this into my schedule. From time to time I would loose track of them and I would need to ask someone if they had seen my "children". Of course many of the old-timers understood what I was saying and they would point to an antique lawn-tractor drawn buggy and say - "there they go there." Reminds me of the powerful Mark Schultz song that looks back across the lives of couple who are in their eighties. Its like they were eighteen all over again. It was beautiful to see as they finish these final moments of life together. By the way, Dad is progressing toward a relationship with Jesus. I don't know that he is quite there yet, but sure signs are evident. (We've had some good conversations about the subject, but being the son, I don't push too hard). I am looking forward to trying to do a few more things with him while we are able...10 minutes of shooting the 22 at a flip-up target I bought for him at Cabela's sure seems to do him some good from time to time.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Petras Blog Link

Mark just told me of their new blog, although, it seems Kendra has done most of the blogging so far. Check it and remember to pray for the Petras and Crossroads Community Church in Altoona, PA.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Day 2 Ends

What a great day we had, but we worked hard and dealt with 1 Corinthian 1:1-3 - remembering that we are called by the will of God. We look at the earlier posting I had from YouTube entitled - CardBoard Testimonies - many of us cried then went and reflected and prayed on why we do what we do - that lives be changed for the glory of God.

Then it was to work...raising funds, building core groups, developing launch-teams and leaders, clarifying our disciplemaking pathway. We wrapped up around 4, then it was time for burgers and personal interaction and just enjoying the lake. Eric Tober from State College and Stu White our new Pittsburgh Urban Director were able to be with us today. What an energizing time, but man we all have so much work to do! Praise God for His faithfulness and strength!

Summer '08 Church-Planting Retreat

Summer CP Retreat - Day One

I had some pics to share with you, but unfortunately, the camera I used last night took lousy shots of some great scenary and our guys having some fun and discussion. Sorry, maybe today I'll go back to using my simple camera phone. We enjoyed from about 5 until 11:00 of some great discussion (ask for my Best Practices powerpoint which is basically a compilation of findings from some great researchers like NAMB, Stephen Gray and some other practicioners. Mixed into the schedule was some time in the word remembering how Jesus got away to stay connected with the Father. We read an except from Vince Antonucci's ( book, I Became a Christian and All I Got Was This Lousy T-shirt. We enjoyed a lasagna dinner, a spectular Lake Erie Sunset and some fishing. Some new relationships were formed and others taken further.

We really appreciated having Scott Pugh and David Thorne from (their website is under reconstruction, but it is going to be so stinkin cool). Velocity is part of the Stadia Church-Planting Movement and Kingdom Synergy Partnership in Ohio. While we do many of the same things in our systems...assessments, coaching, training...these groups are light-years ahead of us in funding piece and in how they apply compenents from , so we are learning from them. Thanks to George Klippenes for opening the doors for us to move beyond our circles. This is something we simply must do if we really want to see EFCA Church-Planting become a movement.

Last night's group included:

Jeff Powell -
Jason Oesterling -
Nate Childers -
Alex Ielase -
Derek Wadsworth and Joe Becker -
Mark Petras - Crossroads - Altoona
Tom Richards - former EFCA pastor investigating planting
Scott Pugh & David Thorne -

While last night we studied trends and talked about their implications and applications, today we get very specific on things like website development, building your core group, assimilation, building your team, designing your disciple-making pathway, stewardship and funding. I don't want to make this an overload day, but we do want to delve into them enough to be of help. Later in the day, Eric Tober from (State College or Penn State for those who think there are other great universities like Ohio State). Also, our Pittsburgh Urban Director, Stu White arrives today as well. It is going to be a great day. Just pray that everyone finds encouragement through the course of the day.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Church-Planting Retreat Underway

I am just a few hours from our summer Church-Planting Retreat, today through thursday. About a dozen younger and prospective planters will be joing Jeff Powell and me and members of our Allegheny District Church-Planting Team. We will be looking at issues like: family life, personal spirituality and balance, best practices and studied reports from people like and Stephen Gray of We will be considering how to grow core groups, build launch teams, develop leaders, make disciples and raise up stewards. Keep us in prayer over the next few days as we relate and wrestle and rest and have some fun.

Crossroads of McKean Has a Great Day

As I shared a little last week, my former church (a church at which I am still an elder, though, seems of the past several months I have not done much elding...with the travel schedule and all) was having a playground dedication of their new playground, using it as an outreach event. It was a great day. Tons of people, 3 TV stations, and just an all around great day...worship, picnic, dedication, kids and parents playing. Praise God for the many hours of work and many gifts of resource given. With the completion of this project, Anthony Baer is now an Eagle Scout. Below are a few pictures of the playground. I was involved in too many conversations to grab some pictures while the Ark was loaded up with kids and parents, but at least you see what was built.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Fair Haven Camps Trip Successful

My time in Maine where my wife, Wendy-Jo, is the Program Director at was immensely enjoyable and seemingly successful. On June 15th, a group of 29 people from our church (Crossroads in McKean, PA) and from Christ EFC in Saegertown took off on a week-long mini-missions trip to help prepare the camp for its summer season. In addition to our group a group of 48 from Eastern PA joined us in our efforts of painting, building, refurbishing, trimming brush from the High-ropes course, cutting fire-wood and more. After the groups were gone, the summer staff arrived and I remained in Maine to read and study AND to do spiritual life training/leadership development with the counseling staff. Finally, it was time for the first wave of campers to arrive. It is just awesome to watch my wife at work in this arena. It is her dream-job, and while it is incredibly exhausting work running a camp with about 50 staff and 750 to 1000 kids, it is also incredibly rewarding. Pray for Wendy and the staff and the Camp this summer that God would do great things. I have returned home to PA to batch-it for a few weeks. I had some great meetings yesterday with Jim Bzdafka and Jim Hagen from Providence Church in Avon, OH, and then with Randy Spurlock from Orchard Church in Olmstead Falls, OH, then with Jason Oesterling of iKon Church in Medina. Over the next few days I will be preparing for our District Church-Planting Retreat which is next week. I also plan to help out at Crossroads Church this Saturday as the finishing touches go on the new playground in preparation for a large outreach event on Sunday.