ENTHUSIAST & Interview w/ author: What is an enthusiast?

Are you an enthusiast?

What makes you an enthusiast like John and Charles Wesley?

“Bearing up under challenges, staying rooted in God’s Word, having a close group of friends, ministering to the needs of the unfortunate and a vibrant prayer life” states Bob Whitesel, D. Min, Ph.D., author and professor of missional leadership at Wesley Seminary.

Dr. Whitesel explains these “methods” in Enthusiast! Finding a Faith that Fills, a book bursting with wisdom, advice and practical applications to discover the passion and enthusiasm for which we all yearn. A lifelong student of the leadership of John and Charles Wesley, he has been teaching and writing about evangelism and the organic church for many years.

His admiration for the Wesley’s passion, leadership and methods led him to collect his thoughts and experiences into a devotional that will revitalize, renew and create new enthusiasm in readers’ lives and communities through the examination of these brothers’ lives.

Enthusiast! Finding a Faith that Fills will teach Christians (especially those who trace their heritage back to the Wesleyan movement) how to enjoy and celebrate a world that is increasingly hostile towards enthusiastic Christians. Dr. Whitesel has found that many who call themselves Wesleyans or Methodists don’t know who the Wesley brothers were or about the methods they used.

“I want to introduce people to the daily lives of the Wesleys and the way their enthusiasm for God led to a movement that still helps people today find a faith that fills.”

John and Charles Wesley had to overcome doubt, ridicule and the hostility that was aimed at Christians. Even with many things against them, they helped usher a movement that ministered to all economic and social classes. They modeled their lives after the leadership of Jesus and the early disciples, leading the church in the way Christ led, which was critical for them and should be for all those who call themselves Wesleyans or follow their methods.

At the movement’s center was the understanding that true transformation through a conversion experience brought a better life. Dr. Whitesel believes the church can make the same impact for Christ today by participating in God’s plan to foster spiritual transformation in people and communities.

Learn more about Enthusiast! Finding a Faith that Fills at Enthusiast.life.

You can order your copy at wphstore.com.

ALCOHOL & Fast Growing Churches More Likely to Set Rules on Alcohol Use

by David Briggs , US Congregational Life Survey, 7/22/13.

The actress Katherine Heigl has publicly lamented, “If I start going back to church, I’d have to stop the smoking and drinking.”

There is reason for her and others to feel that way.

While many congregations have dropped prohibitions on activities such as homosexual behavior and sex before marriage, the rate of religious communities setting rules on alcohol and tobacco remained fairly steady, according to the U.S. Congregational Life Survey.

In the case of rapidly growing congregations, there is some evidence of increasing strictness regarding both activities. One study showed the percentage of fast-growing churches in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) having rules on smoking and drinking increased more than four-fold from 2002 to 2011.

In 2002, just 2 percent of fast growing Presbyterian congregations reported having special rules or prohibitions regarding members smoking or drinking alcohol. In 2011, nine percent of fast growing churches had special rules on smoking and 11 percent reported rules on drinking.

Smoking chart
The figures are in stark contrast to the dramatic decline in the percentage of fast-growing congregations with special rules regarding homosexual behavior or unmarried adults living together.

More than three-quarters of fast-growing Presbyterian congregations in 2002 reported having rules on homosexual behavior; just 17 percent reported having such rules in 2011. The percentage of fast-growing congregations with rules or prohibitions on cohabitation dropped from 55 percent in 2002 to 13 percent in 2011.

Ida Smith-Williams, a researcher with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the U.S. Congregational Life Survey, compared survey data from 114 fast growing Presbyterian churches in 2011 with responses from 93 fast growing Presbyterian congregations in 2002.

Overall data from the congregational profiles in the 2001 and 2008 U.S. congregational life surveys show far more rapid declines among churches in reporting special rules on cohabitation and homosexual behavior than in rules regarding smoking and drinking.

In the 2001 survey, a quarter of congregations reported having special rules or prohibitions regarding alcohol use and 15 percent reported rules on smoking. In the 2008 survey, 19 percent of congregations had rules on drinking and 13 percent had regulations on smoking.

Compare those modest drops to the changes in the areas of sexuality. Two-thirds of congregations in the 2001 survey reported having special rules on homosexual behavior and 55 percent had guidelines about unmarried adults living together. In the 2008 congregational profile, 38 percent of congregations reported special rules on homosexual behavior and 32 percent had rules on cohabitation.

Why were the rules on smoking and drinking more likely to remain a part of congregational life, or in the cases of some fast growing churches become even more prevalent, during a period of growing religious individualism?

In part, the retention of guidelines on alcohol and tobacco use may also reflect a shifting emphasis in religion and the larger culture in promoting public health even if it means greater regulation of individuals.

That fast-growing churches would be more associated with rules on drinking and smoking also may not be so surprising.

In analyzing the findings, Smith-Williams said the first thing that came to her mind was the strict church theory described by sociologists such as Laurence Iannaccone that notes having clear guidelines tends to screen out members who lack commitment and stimulate participation among those who remain.

Many congregations appear to be easing up on older prohibitions. But none of these special rules appear to be disappearing from American religious life. The rules congregations choose, and how they decide to promote them, are a key part of their identity.

Read more on how growing congregations are keeping up with changing times.

Read more at … http://www.uscongregations.org/beyond-the-ordinary/fast-growing-churches-more-likely-to-set-rules-on-alcohol-tobacco-use/

CHURCH PLANTING & Thoughts from Alfredo Barreno at #WesleyanChurch “Ignite” Pre-conference #Exponential

by Bob Whitesel D.Min. Ph.D., 4/25/16.

In partnership with the Exponential East conference, The Wesleyan Church holds an “Ignite” pre-conference sponsored by their Department of Church Multiplication and Discipleship.

alfredo-pi_focus.jpgAlfredo Barreno is a Hispanic American church planter. He discussed how he was thrust into church planting (selected by his pastor) and found “intentional discipleship” the most challenging. “I selected a group of 10, with core principles such as investigate the scriptures, pray together, sermon discussion, fellowship and reach out. Soon were were only five left. With those five I continued a small group with the goal that each would start their own group eventually. Several months later we opened five more small groups started by those five group leaders.”

MULTIPLICATION & Thoughts from #TheWesleyanChurch “Ignite” Pre-conference #Exponential

by Bob Whitesel D.Min. Ph.D., 4/25/16.

In partnership with the Exponential East conference, The Wesleyan Church holds an “Ignite” pre-conference sponsored by their Department of Church Multiplication and Discipleship.

Matt LeRoy (teaching pastor at Love Chapel Hill in Chapel Hill):

“Adding daily to their number daily (Acts 2:48) was not their vision. They wanted to stay small. The great persecution of Acts 8 scattered them” and made them a missionary people.

“The call (come follow me), the cost (lay down your life, take up your cross) and commission (go and make disciples).”

TRAFFICKING & The Evolution of Anti-Trafficking Campaigns in the Church

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: This article will wake you up and your congregation to not only the horrors of human trafficking but also the Church’s malaise about doing something. Happily this article gives inaughty you can use to motivate a church to make a difference. A seminal article by Wesleyan Church General Superintendent Dr. Jo Anne Lyon, I encourage all students and colleagues to begin their introduction to this terrible problem with the viable solutions in this article.

The Evolution of Anti-Trafficking Campaigns in the Church

by Dr. Jo Anne Lyon, 5/2/14.

After a trip to Svay Pak stirred my desire to fight human trafficking, I was surprised to find that I initially faced resistance from people in the church.

In 1996, my life was dramatically changed after reading a New York Times article titled “Children for Sale,” which exposed a massive sex-trafficking operation in Svay Pak, Cambodia. I felt God tugging on my heart to see the area for myself, and soon after the article’s publication a missionary friend invited me to tag along on his trip to the area. In July, I arrived in Svay Pak and came face-to-face with the trafficking industry.

Within hours of landing, I stumbled upon a horrific scene in the middle of the street as we made our way to the hotel: children, sitting in plastic chairs, lining the street and waiting to be sold. The road looked as if it would never end. My head was spinning. Where to start? Who to contact? What to do? How can this be?

We returned home excited to rally our fellow Christians to this cause. Later that year, I founded World Hope International (WHI), a Christian relief and development NGO, and the official development arm of The Wesleyan Church, as a way to help put an end to trafficking. I was convinced our donor and church audience would be receptive to my story and join me fervently in this effort.

Instead, I found resistance from people in the church — not only The Wesleyan Church, but within Christianity as a whole. It seemed as if everyone I turned to was forgetting a clear injunction from scripture:

“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:14-17 ESV)

Many church members chose ignorant bliss because they had a hard time hearing about the abuse. Others saw it only as a foreign issue and preferred to focus instead on local ministries. But I couldn’t erase from my mind what I’d seen in Svay Pak, and I was determined to inspire others to act. I knew that the foundation of human trafficking lay in issues widely decried throughout the Bible — exploitation, oppression, abuse, violence, and more. It was clear to me that no matter how much church people feared the subject, this was a problem the church was called to take a stand against.

Still, it took nearly three years for the fight to gain momentum within the church…

Read more at … http://www.faithstreet.com/onfaith/2014/05/02/evolution-of-anti-trafficking-campaigns-in-the-church/31942

MULTIPLICATION CASE STUDY & 12Stone to open five new campuses Sunday

by Keith Farner, Gwinnett Daily Post, Wednesday, January 7, 2015.

LAWRENCEVILLE — In the days leading up to Sunday, Kevin Myers has the same kind of feeling he had 27 years ago when the 12Stone ministry began.

The senior pastor at 12Stone church said Wednesday he feels “all kinds of excitement” and “great expectations” because the church is about to do something not done in its history, and only sparingly seen in churches across the country.

12Stone on Sunday will launch five new campuses across Gwinnett and Barrow counties that will more than double its destinations for worship. The church, which averages about 16,000 people each Sunday, will open the new campuses at schools where they expect to welcome about 300 people each.

The expansion brings 12Stone’s total worship offering to 27 opportunities across nine campuses…

The locations will be called Bethlehem at Yargo Elementary in Winder, Braselton at Duncan Creek Elementary in Hoschton, Buford at Lanier High, Grayson at Covenant Christian Academy in Loganville and Pharr Elementary in Snellville.

It’s existing campuses are in Lawrenceville, Hamilton Mill, Flowery Branch and Duluth.

It’s not the first time 12Stone has partnered with schools. Before it opened the Sugarloaf campus in Duluth, it held services for two years at Peachtree Ridge High.

Each campus will have a full-time campus pastor, full-time worship leader/youth pastor, part-time administrative assistant and part-time children’s ministry director. The church also plans to add three to five positions to its central support staff because of the expansion. Plans for the expansion began about 20 months ago, Myers said.

The new locations were chosen because Myers said that’s where the church has the most people and most influence. In a preliminary list, the church looked into other cities such as Gainesville, Jefferson and Athens, and Myers said the church could still reach those areas or eventually add a location there.

“So part of what this does is actually opens up the door to future opportunities as well,” he said…

All of the new locations will have services at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Sundays, and Buford and Braselton will also have 1 p.m. services.

“The convenience factor is significant, but so is the connection, which is the most important thing,” Myers said. “People are connected in communities. If we’re going to see people come to faith and find God’s better life, we’ve got to be closer to their community. Community and connection are really important to us and why we would even bother to bring the church into another community…”

Read more at … http://m.gwinnettdailypost.com/news/2015/jan/07/12stone-to-open-five-new-campuses-sunday/?templates=mobile

ART & An Example of How to Do Outreach & Discipleship With Emerging Artists

by Pastor Paul Tillman, Lead Pastor, Oakdale Wesleyan Church, 12/1/14

In partnership with Indiana Wesleyan University, Oakdale Wesleyan Church has sponsored an art contest. Student artists prepared works depicting Philip the Evangelist and the Ethiopian Official from Acts 8:26-40. Artwork entries hang at the Beard Arts Center at IWU from December 1, 2014 to January 9, 2015, and, in addition to the artist receiving a cash or scholarship prize from the memorial gifts of Don and Trudy Emory, the winning piece will be brought to to hang permanently at Oakdale Wesleyan Church as a reminder and symbol of our mission, given to us by Jesus, to make disciples from all peoples by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The contest guidelines were: “Students should create 2D work on canvas or board that is no smaller than 24″ x 36″ and no larger than 36″ x 46″. Work can be orientated in either portrait or landscape. The style of the work may be: classical/traditional, realistic, or impressionistic, based upon any part of all of the story of Philip and the Ethiopian from Acts 8:26-40. The winning entry will be a symbol for the call to multi-ethnic ministry, making disciples and missions.” We are now pleased to show the entries and announce the winner.

The Installation Ceremony of the winning pieces will be on Saturday, February 7, 2015 at Oakdale Wesleyan Church. The following day, Sunday, February 8, 2015 at 10 am, we will hold a Celebration Service. Greater details on the installation and celebration will be forthcoming. Both events are open to the public.

First Place – ICHTHUS by Nate Hillyer

ICHTHUS by Nate Hillyer

ICHTHUS by Nate Hillyer http://www.natehillyer.com/

In addition to his wonderful style, the artist brought in great symbolism to the piece: light and darkness, the presence of Christ and the Holy Spirit, reconciliation, and the making of disciples, all from the perspective of God Above. This piece captured all the contest elements, and will hang in the lobby of Oakdale Wesleyan Church. Nate Hillyer received $300 for his winning entry.

Honorable Mention – Immersion by Gayle Cobb

Immersion by Gayle Cobb

Immersion by Gayle Cobb http://www.gcillustration.com/

With its bold colors and zoomed in perspective, this piece forces the viewer to engage and figure it out. The artist chose only show the hands of Philip (a choice that really works for the piece), making is so those hands could be anyone’s hands, or even the hands of God. This piece will have a place of honor, and will be featured during baptisms. Gayle Cobb received $100 for her entry…

Read more at … http://oakdalechurch.org/art-content-winner/