After the Council of Elders meetings concluded in Big Sandy last week, Beverly and I traveled to west-central Texas to visit our ministry and brethren. We spent three nights with Stan and Judy Erickson who live in Early, Texas. Stan is pastor of the Coleman and Waco congregations. While there, we visited with Bobbie Hubbard, widow of previous Coleman pastor, Clyde Hubbard, who died on December 15. We deeply miss Clyde Hubbard, a valiant Christian who deeply loved God and the congregation that he pastored for several years. It was so good to spend time with Bobbie, who lives just a few blocks from the Ericksons.
I have known Stan Erickson from my Minnesota days, having met him at my first Sabbath service in Minneapolis in August of 1965. We both went to Ambassador College and have worked together in various ways in the Church, most notably together in the ministry from 1981-1988 in Mankato, Minnesota.
We appreciated spending the Sabbath with the faithful Coleman brethren—several of whom have long histories in the Church of God. On the way back to the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport, we met for an enjoyable meal with recently transferred pastor Stan Martin and his wife, Penny.
Beyond Today TV Recording
Yesterday, we recorded three new Beyond Today television programs. I personally believe that they achieved a new level of energy and persuasiveness. Our aim is to continue producing programs with an increased sense of urgency and warning—programs that are convicting and encourage action or response on the part of our viewers.
In Darris McNeely’s program about the Ten Commandments, he spoke very plainly about how the Commandments were given to Israel and, by extension, to all mankind. He referred to the work of the prophet Jeremiah who warned a rebellious and sinful nation about the consequences of sin and what would happen to them as a result. Our prayer is that people will hear our message and turn to God. All three programs were excellently delivered!
We invited local Beyond Today magazine readers to join the live audience. We were so pleased that 15 new people joined us for the live recordings. The recording session is indeed an interesting and engaging experience and we hope to involve our BT readers more in the proclamation work.
This time I sat and observed one of the programs from the control room and watched our technicians working with four cameras, sound and teleprompter. The teleprompter, by the way, does not provide exact wording for the speakers. It is more like an outline of notes for the presenters to generate extemporaneous speech.
The programs recorded were: “The Ten Commandments: The Heart of the Matter” by Darris McNeely, “Two Things You Don’t Know About Jesus” by Steve Myers, and “What Happens to Me When I Die?” by Gary Petty.
Please be sure to promote the Beyond Today TV program in your church areas. There is always a place where you can find an outlet for it. Here are the details. Beyond Today TV airs nationwide in the United States on WGN America:
- Sundays at 8:30 a.m. ET, 7:30 a.m. CT, 8:30 a.m. MT (except satellite and single-feed cable), 8:30 a.m. PT and 8:30 a.m. in Alaska and Hawaii.
- Saturdays at 5 a.m. ET, 4 a.m. CT, 5 a.m. MT (except satellite and single-feed cable), 5 a.m. PT and 5 a.m. in Alaska and Hawaii.
- And, Beyond Today continues to air in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa. It also airs on radio in Zambia.
To find the WGN America channel locations in your area please visit www.wgnamerica.com/channel-finder/ and enter your zip code. You will be shown the providers and channel number(s) on which you can watch WGN America in your area.
All programs can be viewed on-demand on dedicated Beyond Today television channels on Roku, Amazon Fire TV, iOS devices, Android devices, and Samsung smart TVs. You can also watch programs online at our website: www.ucg.org/beyond-today/television .
A few weeks back I spoke to you about extended focus meetings that we are conducting with our home office staff and the remainder of our employees about the Organizational Stewardship aspect of our Church’s operation. The goal of this is to provide communication channels, administration policies and practices that enhance unity and godly relationships among employees, elders and volunteers.
This past Tuesday, we held our third extended focus meeting with the home office staff. We concentrated on the later part of our mission statement which is the Church’s responsibility to “care for those disciples” whom God calls. Certainly this is both a privilege and great responsibility… knowing that it is our Father’s intent to “bring many children to glory” (Hebrews 2:10 Hebrews 2:10For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
American King James Version×).
The overall goal of the “Congregational Care” section of the Strategic Plan is to become “A spiritual body that grows in Christ-like service, love, righteousness, unity, grace and peace.” After some introductory comments from Mark Welch, our new Ministerial and Member Services operation manager, we jumped right into a 45-minute small group discussion. These meetings have been very energizing! Hearing the buzz in the room as our employees shared their thoughts and ideas with one another has been fantastic.
So today I want to share with all of you some of what we discussed, and maybe you can continue the conversation in your own church areas.
The first series of questions we tackled was: What are the qualities of an effective pastor? What dynamics need to be in place to encourage a healthy relationship between the elders and members of our congregations? Can you identify any barriers?
Several recurring themes came up when it came to identifying the qualities of an effective pastor:
- Having a strong personal relationship with God and being a man of integrity and high character.
- Showing humility.
- Being warm and approachable to everyone, and not a respecter of persons.
- Seeking to understand and being an effective listener.
- Creating a church environment where it’s safe to ask questions, have doubt and be able to overcome.
- Delegating to others and being good at time management.
When it comes the dynamics that need to be in place for healthy relationships and breaking down barriers it was recognized that we all (ministers and members alike) need to:
- Show mutual respect and love to one another.
- Work on establishing and building trust.
- Be authentic and show vulnerability.
- Recognize that everyone is “growing towards perfection.”
- Learn to get along despite differences.
- Show our love and appreciation for those in the ministry.
- Engage in open and honest conversations with one another.
In the next two sections we took a look at how congregations are being spiritually fed through sermons, sermonettes and special music, at what qualities warm and nurturing congregations have, how can we encourage outreach within our communities, and explored the components of our church service formats. Ideas shared included:
- Use the split sermon church format more during our services.
- Conduct discussion groups after services to talk about the sermon. This allows for the pastor to get feedback and go deeper into his sermon topic.
- Take into account different learning styles when preparing messages.
- Use visual props to emphasize points.
- Promote the use of interactive formats where people are encouraged to share thoughts and ideas.
- Promote our media guiding principles.
- Tell stories and use parables, much as Jesus did in His ministry.
- Continue speaker training such as Spokesman Club and homiletics.
- Provide a balanced spiritual diet.
- Tackle the “tough topics” that people are facing and provide direction.
- Go deep into a set of scriptures, rather than jumping all over.
- Listening to other engaging speakers and learning from their style can be helpful for those giving sermons and sermonettes.
- Be open to variety in special music styles.
- Create spaces within our congregations that promote relationship-building.
- Promote individual outreach and “being the change you want to see.”
- Focus on meeting the needs of the fatherless and widows.
- Avoid being apathetic.
- Empower others to take on new responsibilities.
- Overcome fears that hold us back and step outside our comfort zones.
- Emphasize the need to foster new relationships within our congregations.
Our final set of questions revolved around creating space for more involvement and identifying the barriers that exist. Thoughts included:
- Being open to new ideas.
- Rotating responsibilities.
- Promoting mentoring relationships.
- Being willing to adopt new traditions as we adapt to changing times.
Have a wonderful upcoming Sabbath and week!