Freedom Sabbath

Freedom Sabbath

Sep 25, 2017

We had a special service in Ashaway this weekend. We celebrated the freedom to worship that we enjoy in America. We celebrated the heritage of our church and the role of our members (like Samuel Ward) in the American Revolution. We sang the Battle Hymn of the Republic, written by Samuel Ward’s great-granddaughter. We had hot dogs and enjoyed summer fellowship. Most importantly, we read Romans 6 and reflected on our Freedom in Christ. We are no longer slaves to sin which leads to destruction! We are now subject to God, our great and loving master, through the work of Jesus....

Soul Care

Soul Care

Jun 23, 2017

by John J. Pethtel Director of Church Development & Pastoral Services     Fifty SDB pastors and spouses gathered together in Alfred Station, NY, to fellowship and study with one another from April 25 to 27, 2017. The theme for the week was “Soul Care.” They learned about ways to better take care of themselves and their congregations when they are troubled or wearied. Speakers included John Pethtel, Nate Crandall, Darwin Steele, Steve Osborn, Tim Smothers, Rod Noel, and Owen Lynch. Area pastors were invited to join us on Wednesday when Brian Croft, founder of Practical Shepherding, put on a workshop discussing the pastor’s soul, family, ministry, and journey. There will be a Pastors Conference in 2018 and 2019 at dates and locations yet to be determined. If your pastor attended this year, ask him about his experience and make plans to help him attend next year. If your pastor was unable to attend this year, start making plans to help him attend next year. It is good for his soul! The 3rd annual MULTIPLY Church Development Conference (October 19-21, 2017) is open to all who desire to see renewal and revitalization in their church or desire to see new SDB churches in North America. This conference will be combining our own SDB learning cohort with the MULTIPLY Conference, put on by Frontline Church Planting in Colorado Springs, to learn from missional church leaders and each other during this extended weekend. Registration deadline is September 24, 2017, and the conference fee is $100. This fee includes registration, meals for Friday and Saturday, and lodging on a first come, first served basis. Transportation arrangements will be provided to the Colorado Springs airport (COS). For more information, visit seventhdaybaptist.org/MULTIPLY. PULSE The Church Revitalization Task Force (Carl Greene, JR Shick, Patti Wethington, and Frank Mazza) has been working diligently over the past year to provide an assessment process to use to help a church diagnose the state of its health. This process is currently being implemented in four pilot churches — but we are looking to include your church soon. When we assess our personal health, one of the key indicators is our pulse rate. Is it too...

The Day We Visited the Dying Church

The Day We Visited the Dying Church

Mar 23, 2017

by John J. Pethtel Director of Church Development & Pastoral Services It was about six or seven years ago. Our family sometimes visits other churches. We went to a service at a church that was very different than our church. Both of our children were under the age of ten. Our children were used to being the center of attention — with someone spending time caring for them, listening to them, and teaching them the Bible in a way that they could understand. The church we visited had been around for over 100 years. You could tell that at one time the church was very vibrant with many young families. By the time we visited, though, there were very few people our age. The facility was dated. The music was very traditional. The message was boring for my kids…and for me. As we were walking out of the church together after the service, my son, Xavier, tugged on my sleeve to get my attention. Then he quietly said what everyone else in the family was thinking, “Dad, this church is never going to grow.” The sad thing is my son was right. The church was dying. Rather than make some intentional changes to reach the next generations of families in the community, they were preserving the past. I am assuming it’s another example of people placing a higher value on personal preferences and comfort than on reaching people for Jesus. What’s encouraging to me is that I see many churches unwilling to go there. The churches who make the transition successfully share some common traits. • They value having an outward focus. It’s an intentional part of their ministry strategy. • They value a clearly defined discipleship process. With that, they acknowledge keeping people busy is not the goal. • They value strong, healthy leadership. That includes the pastor, lay leadership team and staff leadership team. • They value a bold, clear vision for the future. At the same time, they have a clear action plan to see that vision accomplished. • They value simple systems and structures. Complexity always stalls progress. If you want to preserve the past, try to create systems and structures where...

Called Pastoral Ministry?

Called Pastoral Ministry?

Jan 23, 2017

Here are several questions you should ask yourself as you ponder a call to pastoral ministry: 1. Do I meet the qualifications laid out in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1? This is the place to start. If your character is not mature, stable, and (in a non-perfectionist way) exemplary, then you are not ready to be a pastor. This does not necessarily mean you are on the wrong path if you don’t yet have victory over certain sins. It means you won’t be ready until you meet the Scriptural standards. 2. Do the Christians who know me best consistently affirm my gifts for ministry? The most important call is the objective call of your church encouraging you to pursue pastoral ministry. 3. Do I like to teach all kinds of people in all kinds of settings? Most people thinking of pastoral ministry are excited to preach. I want to know if they are excited to preach at the Rescue Mission and excited to teach five-year-olds. 4. Do I find myself stirred by good preaching? If a man is called to preach the gospel he should be thrilled to hear it preached. The content should move him, and he should find himself thinking, “Oh, that I could proclaim this good news.” 5. Do I find myself stirred by bad preaching? The last point was obvious. This one is less so, but just as important. I think there ought to be a fire in a man’s bones when he hears the word of God handled badly.     6. Do I enjoy being around people? Some pastors are extroverts; I am not. I look forward to being with people more than some pastors I know, but not nearly as much as many men I admire. Whatever your personality, you won’t be a good pastor if you don’t like people and recoil from them as much as possible. 7. Do I make friends easily? This is a subjective test (like many of these questions), but a lack of meaningful friendships is not a good sign. It could be an indication that you are too harsh, too much a loner, or frankly, too awkward to be effective...

SOUL CARE FOR THE LEADER AND CONGREGATION

by John J. Pethtel   The 2017 SDB Pastors Conference is coming up in just a few months. Have you made sure that your pastor is going to be able to attend? This year we will be focusing on the theme of soul care for pastors and their families as well as the congregations that they serve. Pastors Conference is a time of networking, renewal, and learning with SDB pastors and their spouses from all over the USA & Canada. It is an opportunity to go deep with brothers and sisters who are serving churches or have retired from active pastoral ministry. There will be opportunities for food, learning, fellowship, and worship. We will be meeting from April 25-27, 2017 in Alfred Station, NY. April 24 and April 28 have been set aside for travel days. Those who are flying and want us to arrange transportation for them should fly in and out of the Rochester (NY) International Airport. The registration fee will be $100*. This will help us cover the food and programming. A registration form will be made available soon through www.seventhdaybaptist.org and social media. If you have any questions about Pastors Conference, please contact John Pethtel at jpethtel@seventhdaybaptist.org or 608-752-5055 ext. 1009. *The registration fee may qualify for Continuing Education Funds for pastors. Find out more about Continuing Education for Pastoral Leaders at www.seventhdaybaptist.org/continuingeducation. HISPANIC MINISTRIES COUNCIL CONTINUES ITS WORK The newly created Hispanic Ministries Council (HMC), led by Pastor Helmer Umaña, has been working to determine the best ways for the SDB General Conference to reach out to an increasing community of Spanish-speakers in North America. One of the greatest needs is to translate all of our current material (as well as future material) into Spanish. This is a project that will require extra funding for additional publication and translation expenses. Another area of opportunity that the HMC is working on is how to help others reach into the Hispanic culture effectively in their own communities. Please continue to pray that our ministry to Spanish-speakers will grow in proportion to the growth that we see in our country today. If you are interested in supporting or helping in these ministries...

Ten Commandments for Guest-Friendly Church Members

Ten Commandments for Guest-Friendly Church Members

Dec 22, 2016

By Thom Rainer     I travel a lot and spend a lot of time in different churches. I have had a church consulting firm that did “guest” visits as part of our services. Sadly, many times I do not feel welcome as a guest when I visit churches. The Bible is replete with admonitions of hospitality and servanthood. I just wish our church members understood that the servant-like spirit should also be manifest when we gather to worship. Guests are often uncomfortable, if not intimidated, when they visit a church. We are to be gracious and sacrificial servants to them. In response to this need for more guest-friendly church members, I have devised the ten greatest needs, at least from my perspective. I will reticently call them “commandments” and throw in a little King James English for effect. 1. Thou shalt pray for people in the services whom you don’t recognize. They are likely guests who feel uncomfortable and uncertain. 2. Thou shalt smile. You only have to do so for about an hour. Guests feel welcome when they see smiling people. You can resume your somber expressions when you get home. 3. Thou shalt not sit on the ends of the rows. Move to the middle so guests don’t have to walk over you. You’ll survive in your new precarious position. 4. Thou shalt not fill up the back rows first. Move to the front so guests don’t have to walk in front of everyone if they get there late. 5. Thou shalt have ushers to help seat the guests. Ushers should have clearly-marked badges or shirts so that the guests know who can help them. 6. Thou shalt offer assistance to guests. If someone looks like they don’t know where to go, then they probably don’t know where to go. Get out of your comfort zone and ask him if you can help. 7. Thou shalt not gather too long in your holy huddles. Sure, it’s okay to talk to fellow members; but don’t stay there so long that you are not speaking to guests. 8. Thou shalt offer your seats to guests. I know that this move is a great...