Monday, August 31, 2009

Study Grant Available for Pastoral Leaders

Louisville Institute Offers Study Project Grant Opportunity for Pastoral Leaders

Through its Pastoral Study Project program, the Louisville Institute offers pastoral leaders the opportunity to engage in thoughtful study and inquiry on issues related to Christian life, religious institutions, and ministry.

The PSP program seeks to support the intellectual work of pastoral leaders who have the capacities for research, teaching, and writing that can reach broad audiences. The program welcomes proposals on a wide range of topics and interests related to the challenges facing Christian life and practice, religious institutions, and the practice of Christian ministry in North America today.

The program grants awards of up to $15,000 each. The study period may vary according to the needs and availability of the applicant. Possible options include an extended period fully away from work, designated days each week or month away from work, designated part-days off, or periodic blocks of time off. There are no residency requirements.

To see the complete RFP (request for proposal), click here.

Sermon's Over--How Did I Do?

From Ray Pritchard's blog. See the original by clicking here.

Five Sunday Night Questions Preachers Should Ask

As any preacher will tell you, some of the most agonizing moments of the week come after the sermon is over, after the service has concluded, after the sanctuary is empty, after the people have gone home, and after the Sunday afternoon nap.

Preachers are people too, and they naturally wonder, "How did I do today?" Besides being evaluated by the people who heard the sermon, they also wonder what the Lord thought about it. Rare is the preacher who can deliver a message and then walk away from it without another thought.

And in the nature of things, a lot of that introspection happens on Sunday night. So here are five questions to help you turn that musing into something productive. It's worth thinking about these things, and it's probably worth jotting down a few notes to yourself.

1. What happened during the sermon that surprised me? This wide open question reminds us that no sermon ever goes exactly as planned. Sometimes the first part of the service took longer than planned so you had to squeeze the sermon at the end. Or people may have been distracted by the weather. Maybe that hard section you struggled over all week suddenly flowed easily. Perhaps something you hadn't prepared came to mind as you preached. Or an illustration didn't connect. Or (and this often happens) something that clicked in one service seemed to fall flat in another. Perhaps God gave great liberty at the very end to press home the gospel. Or maybe you had trouble landing the plane on the first try. All sorts of things happen when we preach and we do well to take note of them.

2. What response (beyond the ordinary) did I receive? The phrase "beyond the ordinary" is meant to block out the usual "Nice sermon, Pastor" that you receive from some people every week. Did someone tell you "God spoke to my need through your message"? Did you receive a note or an email of encouragement this afternoon? Did someone thank you for lifting up the cross of Christ? Did someone trust Christ for salvation today? It's important that we take time to remember how the Lord used the sermon to change lives for eternity.

3. What did God speak to my own heart through my sermon? This question reminds us that we are both hearers and speakers of the Word of God. While we give out the Word, we must also be hearers of the Word. The pastor ought to be part of the congregation while he preaches. If we believe in the Holy Spirit, then we ought to expect to be challenged to praise, worship, obedience, forgiveness, kindness, boldness and prayer. Perhaps the Lord nudged you with something specific like "Call George." Only you know that means. But if your sermon leads you to that thought, then you'd better call George-and sooner rather than later.

4. What should I remember if I preach this sermon again? It's true that most sermons only get preached one time. But you never know so before you put the sermon to bed and move on, think about what notes you need to write that might help you next time. Perhaps your introduction needs sharpening. Maybe you need to shorten the second point. Did you hear a story between services that you used in a later service? Write down your thoughts using the "Comments" feature in most word processing software. A few sentences tonight may produce a more powerful sermon next time.

5. What should I be thinking about regarding next Sunday? Remember that even if you aren't in a series, your people hear your sermons as a connected whole. One sermon always leads to another. So ask yourself what you heard as you talked to your people today. We should expect the Holy Spirit to give us some early sense of what needs to be stressed next Sunday. Whatever comes to mind, jot it down. Don't trust you memory on something this important. Did someone ask you a leading question? Perhaps you prayed with several people today with the same problem. These early thoughts may lead you to some important insights regarding your sermon for next Sunday.

Since all preachers spend time evaluating, these five questions can help you do it in a more productive way. And it shouldn't take long. You should be able to answer all five questions in ten or fifteen minutes. And having done this self-analysis, remember that God is the final judge and you won't get his verdict until much farther down the road. Ask the questions, jot down your answers, thank God for the privilege of being a preacher, commit your work to the Lord of the Harvest, and then go to bed and have a good night's sleep.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ron Thompson Retires this Weekend

Ron Thompson, with his wife, Thelma, concludes his ministry at Aiken, South Carolina, today. Here is an article from the Aiken newspaper. To see the original, click here.

Retirement has begun for local pastor and his wife


Ron Thompson was called into the ministry at the age of 18, shortly before he finished high school.

Fifty-six years later, a career that has taken him to several pulpits, itinerant pastoring and an evangelical ministry is coming to a formal end.

After nine years as Grace Brethren Church's associate pastor, Thompson and his wife Thelma are retiring and will move near one of their daughters in Tennessee. Church members will honor them and family members with a celebration at Aiken Electric Cooperative today from 4 to 6 p.m.

"This is where God wanted us to be," said Thompson. "The people here are so warm, and we've never been part of a church like this. It gives 47 percent of its total budget, and Pastor (Steve) Taylor is almost a missionary himself."

Thompson has always had an interest in music, taking lessons and playing the organ in church as a teenager in Hopewell, Va. He has returned to music in the past 20 years, especially at Grace Brethren as keyboardist and pianist. He plays with the church's praise band and helps with the church choir and general accompaniment as needed.

Music is just one of Thompson's strong points, said Howard Brounce, a church member and close friend, who cited Thompson's work with the "primetimers," the seniors in the church. Thompson also would take his friends to North Carolina to volunteer with the Samaritan's Purse program of Billy and Franklin Graham, filling shoe boxes with gifts to send to needy people overseas.

"We've gone to nursing homes to do songs and scripture readings for those in the homes," said Brounce. "Pastor Ron is an all-around good guy and absolutely very spiritual."

Brounce also praised the contributions of Thelma Thompson "as a fine, fine lady who was in charge of the nursery and was always available to help in any area she was needed."

Thompson and his wife grew up together and were in a youth group with the Church of the Brethren, a more liberal denomination. He enrolled at Bridgewater College and pastored at rural churches on weekends.

After he and Thelma married in 1957, they were sent to a church in Buena Vista, Va., which had stones 16 inches thick that had been hauled out of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Thompson later enrolled at Grace Theological Seminary, which provided the sound, conservative training he had been seeking.

For several years, he traveled extensively in working with crusades. His wife had stayed home with their two young daughters. Thompson wanted to be with them and took a church pastorate in Roanoke, Va. A few years later he accepted a call to a Richmond, Va., church, then returned to Roanoke for 17 years. During that time, Thompson became the national board chairman for the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches.

That experience led him to a ministry in Mexico, teaching evangelism to pastors in a seminar-type format there as well as in Argentina and Guatemala. Thompson has met many others who have influenced him - a lay leader in Virginia who loaned him money for college, pastors in Virginia and Indiana and an evangelistic leader in Mexico named Juan Isais, who had worked with Billy Graham.

Don Soule, Grace Brethren's pastor of youth and families, will succeed Thompson as associate pastor. Jim Murray has been hired as pastor of youth and young adults.

Thompson is preaching this morning, and he will encourage people "to keep on keeping on and trusting the Lord."

"An important part of the ministry here is not to give up but to be amazed at some of the good things that God has blessed us with," he said.

The Thompsons are moving to Limestone, Tenn., where their daughter is a Christian school principal. Pastor Ron is heading for what he calls a partial retirement "where we will be open to whatever ministry door God wants us to go through for His honor and glory."

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Lititz Worship Arts Post Changes Hands

Scott Distler, pastor of the Grace Brethren church in Lititz, Pennsylvania, has announced on his blog a change in the church's music and worship ministry. Here is his post:

Over the last several years we have enjoyed the ministry of Matt McElravy (pictured) who has served as our Worship Arts Director here at Grace Church. Matt began his relationship with us as an intern under Bryan Nelson. He was then hired part-time to oversee music under Bryan’s leadership. When God called Bryan and Lisa Nelson to Topeka, Kansas, Matt stepped in as our Interim Worship Arts Director and within a few months was offered and accepted the permanent position. Matt had some very big shoes to fill in following Bryan, and as a young man right out of college, Matt did a tremendous job in leading us into a more meaningful worship ministry.

It is now time for a new chapter in Matt’s life. As a young, single man, Matt is ready to embark on some new challenges and, as a result, has submitted his letter of resignation. Matt’s final Sunday with us as our Worship Arts Director will be September 13th.

Matt’s passion to lead worship has been very evident and has been used greatly by the Lord here at Grace. His musical abilities and knowledge amazed us all. And over the last several years we have had the privilege of being greatly ministered to by the original songs that Matt wrote and shared with us here at Grace Church as part of our week to week worship. We are very grateful for the part Mat has played in the life of our church as well as the role Grace Church has played in Matt’s life. Below is part of Matt’s letter to Pastor Tim Auld, our Executive Pastor, notifying us of his resignation:

“I wish to thank you, Pastor Scott, and the rest of the family here at Grace for their understanding, support, guidance, and love during these past two and a half years, and particularly during the past few months as I have been wrestling with this decision. I have always been able to count on your support, and for that, I am grateful beyond words.”

As saddened as we are to see Matt leave, we are equally as excited to announce David Felty as our Interim Worship Arts Director beginning the first week of September. He and Matt will overlap for about 2 weeks to help in the transition. This Interim position is beginning as a 6-month position as we look to evaluate and set our strategy to fill this role permanently.

Most of you are aware of who David is as you have seen him sing several times in recent months here at Grace on Sunday morning. David has amazing vocal and acting talent. In my blog tomorrow I will share with you more about David’s accomplishments. David is also married to Jennifer, who is the head of the music department at Lititz Christian School and who has sung and acted many times on Sunday mornings at Grace as well.

Please be praying for both Matt and David as they transition into these new roles and as they began these new chapters in their live and ministry. Please also be praying for our ministry overall as we seek God’s guidance for the filling of this permanent position.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Simms Headed to Youth Position at Kish Valley

Matt Simms and his wife, Danielle, are headed to Kish Valley Grace Brethren Church, in Reedsville, Pa., this week. He will be serving as youth pastor/associate pastor with Pastor Doug Sabin.

A Grace College graduate, for the last year he has worked with Grace Brethren International Missions in the area of mobilization.

Monday, August 24, 2009

McCarthys Move to Englewood, Ohio

Former Grace Brethren pastor Dick McCarthy and his wife, Lee, have moved to the Grace Brethren Village in Englewood, Ohio. Until recently, they have lived in Columbus, Ohio.

Lee writes: Dick is in a wheelchair. Last year he had his aortic valve replaced and in June he had a stroke that affected mostly his right leg, now this year in June he had two stents put in his older heart grafts. PTL he's here in our cottage, and we like the nice atmosphere. There is a nursing home available here, too.

Write to Dick and Lee at 1010 Taywood Rd., Cottage 404, Englewood, OH 45322

Friday, August 21, 2009

AGBM President's Father-in-law With the Lord

From Joel Richards (pictured with his wife, Jane, enroute home from Equip09 last month in Columbus, OH), pastor at Modesto, California, and current president of AGBM:

Hello friends. On Wednesday night at around 10:00 pm Jane's dad went home to be with the Lord. We are obviously saddened but know his suffering is now over. His services will be next Wednesday.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Who's the Oldest Living Grace Brethren Pastor?

Now that Henry Rempel has died at age 105, several have asked who the oldest living Grace Brethren pastors are.

Can you help by suggesting the name and verified age of your nominee?

Send to Terry White at or reply in comments section of this post.


New Website Connects Blogging Pastors

From This is an excerpt. To read the entire article, click here.

New Website Connects Blogging Pastors to Utilize Experiences

By Joshua A. Goldberg

A new website is connecting blogging pastors and ministers to one another on a single platform in hopes of raising newer generations of believers and Christian leaders while also encouraging and inspiring even more experienced ones.

Launched last month by The Christian Post Company, The Shepherd Post allows Christian leaders to share experiences from their ministry fields – both positive and negative – to steer others from the pitfalls they’ve encountered and to ultimately encourage quick developments in ministry tactics and strategies.

The website’s motto: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” from Proverbs 27:17.

"Today we're living in a time where society is speeding up and forcing us to adapt to changes much more quickly than we're used to. This in turn is having a big effect on the Church," says Joseph La Fleur, CEO of The Christian Post Company. "The Shepherd Post is great in that it brings the greatest minds in the Church all to one place to share their thoughts on our changing world."

For visitors to the site, The Shepherd Post features a wide range of key topics – including Missions, Leadership, Finance, Technology, Family and Theology – on a simple, easy to navigate interface.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Terrific Israel Travel Opportunity for Pastors & Wives

Dr. Randall Smith, experienced Israel guide and Bible teacher and pastor of the Grace Brethren church in Sebring, Florida, extends the following invitation to pastors in the Fellowship.

Christian Travel Study Programs, Ltd. (USA) present:

A Pastoral Seminar: “Preaching and Teaching the Life of Jesus”

November 10-18, 2009

$1500.00 Flight, Hotels, Seminar and Meals (Breakfast, Dinner daily; inclusive from US*)

This powerful seminar has two goals: First, we want every teacher or preacher of the Bible to experience the land and setting of the Bible as an aid to teaching the Word. Second, we want every Pastor to gain insight into how the travel and study ministry will be helpful for them in developing discipleship and relationships in the local church.

Israeli tourist developers (including airlines and the hotel associations) are involved in subsidizing the cost of the trip (normally $3,000 per person) in the hope that you will see sincere value in bringing back church groups in the future. Dr. Smith of CTSP, Ltd. is donating both teaching services and media materials (normally $450 per person) because of his passion for pastoral leadership training.

Investing one week in the Holy Land, you will receive:

A full notebook of diagrams and insights on preaching and teaching the Gospels.
Notes for dozens of expository messages from the Gospels.
DVD overviews of the lessons from the land.
Seven intense days of instruction in the Word from Dr. Randall Smith.
Fellowship with other preachers and teachers from around the country.

All this cannot be done at a more reasonable rate! Act now and your wife can travel with you at the same price!

Hagerstown Maranatha Seeks Executive Pastor

Executive Pastor

Maranatha Brethren Church in Hagerstown, Maryland, is seeking a candidate for the position of Executive Pastor. The Executive Pastor will serve on the Pastoral Leadership Team of the church.

The focus of the ministry will be vision casting, oversight, and management. Although preaching will be shared, he must be able to perform all the duties of a traditional pastor with the heart of a servant-leader. He will be an equal member of the Pastoral Leadership Team which will set the spiritual tone for the church.

The Team will also coordinate the vision/direction casting for the church. He will also serve as the liaison to the Elder Board and other oversight committees. Among other operational duties he will serve as the "go to person" on a day-to-day basis.

Maranatha has recently averaged approximately 200 for Sunday morning with a blended service. Send resume or inquiries to: Pastor Search Committee, Maranatha Brethren Church 19835 Scott Hill Drive, Hagerstown MD, 21742; 301-733-1717 or


Monday, August 17, 2009

Louisville Institute Invites Applications for Pastoral Leaders Sabbatical Grant Program

The Louisville Institute, a program funded by the Lilly Endowment and based at Louisville Seminary, offers grants to support both pastoral sabbaticals and research by scholar/pastors and scholar/educators that help strengthen the religious life of North American Christians and their institutions while simultaneously advancing American religious and theological scholarship.

Through its 2009 Sabbatical Grant for Pastoral Leaders grant competition, the Louisville Institute will award up to forty grants for eight-week ($10,000 each) and twelve-week ($15,000 each) sabbaticals. During their sabbaticals, recipients will devote themselves to a season of prayer, study, renewal, and reflection on their vocations and ministries. Recipients must be released from all pastoral duties during the entire grant period.

Recipients are free to use the grant award at their discretion. Previous grantees have used their awards for the purchase of books, research material and equipment, conference and seminary expenses, salary replacement, travel, etc.

For more information, see the Philanthrophy News Digest or the complete RFP (request for proposals).

Monday, August 10, 2009

Florida Church Needs Pastor

Senior Pastor

Semi-retired, partial self-supporting or bi-vocational pastor needed for an established church in central Florida. Needs to be energetic, experienced and committed to several years of a rebuilding ministry.

Church is debt free with 10 acres of beautiful property and a well kept, equipped, and attractive facility. Congregation is mostly senior adults but has a number of well trained middle adults and a few young adults. This will be a challenge but the rewards far outweigh the challenge.

If you think you might be the man God is calling to this type of ministry contact Chuck.

Andy Saunders to Penn Valley

Note from Andy Saunders:

Well it's finally official now....we are leaving Palmyra GBC to serve at Penn Valley Church as the associate pastor of family ministries!